[Year-End Special] #4: f(x) – 4 Walls

“소리 없이 다가와 / 내게만 펼쳐낸 신기루”

I did something grievously sinful on this blog this year and it was that I did not cover this album when it came out. It has become a tradition to cover f(x) albums when they come out but the last two came out during the summer, when I have more time, and this one dropped during the middle of fall quarter, when I was drowning in academia. The best I can do for now, I suppose, is to include it on this list and maybe a full review can follow next year.

If “4 Walls” is an indication of the state of f(x), having been rid of Sulli must have been a bittersweet yet emancipating experience. Losing a member of a group that has been together for many years can’t be an easy experience and this sadness stains the synths of “4 Walls”.

SM has been trying on for size this house music sound this year and it has worked well with SHINee’s “View” and so passing it to f(x), who was originally conceived as SHINee’s female counterpart, was a natural decision. However, whereas SHINee’s attempt at house generated a bright, upbeat dance lead single, f(x)’s stab at it was markedly more dark, cold, and muted, perhaps to match the anguish of losing a member. The pre-choruses are filled with this sense of urgency and this melancholy feeling that spills onto a chorus that is unexpectedly subdued.

The MV is puzzling and I would be lying through my teeth if I told you what the meaning of the broken teacup is and why everyone is trying so hard to prevent the teacup from breaking. However, it is one of those MVs that generate buzz because of how interesting and ambiguous it is. In other words, hipster-bait.

f(x) may have lost a member this year but it seems that they channeled their anguish into a trendy song that was still capable of taking home some trophies.

Honorable Mentions: Rude Love | A | More house influences and more vocal flourishes from the remaining four members. A solid B-side that works well against the palette used for “4 Walls” and that also has a kick to it. 

Papi | B+ | The banger of the album that is for those looking for something not chill. 

Final Rating: A | f(x) may be f(x) – 1 now but if I learned anything from calculus, it would be that, approaching infinity, only the highest powers matter and the power of house music is exponential so. 

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