Music Review: NCT Dream try to pin down a vibe in latest EP, ‘DREAM( )SCAPE’

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When is a good dream not a great dream? When you don’t remember it in the morning.

When is a good album not a great album? When it’s bold, but not bold enough and commercial, but not commercial enough.

NCT Dream’s fifth EP, “DREAM( )SCAPE,” (pronounced “dream escape”) explores the beats of a cool, imaginary urban landscape. But it comes in and out of focus through a combination of tempo changes, innovative sounds (smoothie slurp anyone?) and catchy yet somehow forgettable hooks.

It’s a mysterious quandary for the ages: one second you get into it with both feet, but the minute song’s over, it’s gone into musical ether.

Overall, the dynamic six-track record “DREAM( )SCAPE” offers a variety of styles. “UNKNOWN,” is a middling, smooth electronic pop tune. It wisely moves on to the kinetic “BOX,” a catchy, swagger-heavy beast with an unusual scratchy industrial sound.

“Carat Cake” is a fun pun on the run from a specific genre — it’s angling for a bit of a trap cred wrapped in a fast-paced electro sound with the silly yet endearing chorus “Wow, wow wow wow/That’s a Carat Cake.” Try dislodging that from the subconscious.

Opener “icantfeelanything” is the epic-sounding song of the EP with its deep bass interludes. But then “Smoothie” comes along with its chirpy tempo-changing lanes and fun production; while “Breathing” is a fast-paced yet relaxing ballad.

With plenty of certified bops under their belt, the South Korean septet make the best of the material, vocally. But only fans will stick around for this pleasant-enough offering.

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AP music reviews: https://apnews.com/hub/music-reviews

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