It has been a long wait for f(x)’s fourth studio album 4 Walls. The now four-member group dropped the quirky Red Light before embarking on a one-year interval which saw former member Sulli’s official departure from the band in August. 4 Walls marks the girls’ new beginning as a foursome and a competent attestation that they remain one of S.M. Entertainment’s most experimental units.
f(x) is often said to be neglected by their agency when it comes to promotional activities – they still have no official fan club name in spite of rumours that they are in the midst of selecting one – and they face tough competition from newer groups such as Red Velvet, but in all honesty, the quality of their discography demonstrated that no expense is spared when it comes to the production of their albums.
4 Walls, in many ways, retained the risk-taking personality of its predecessors. The title track drew comparison to label-mate SHINee’s deep house hit ‘View’ (possibly because the songs share the same composer LDN Noise and the two groups have similar aesthetic musically), but the livelier ‘View’ makes a sexier cousin to f(x)’s moody counterpart. ‘Glitter’, which seems like a sonic mess on first listen, slowly winds its way infectiously into your mind and the energetic beats continues with ‘Déjà vu’. Things take a slightly slower pace in synth-funk ‘X’ before picking up again in dance track ‘Rude Love’. Like ‘X’, ‘Rude Love’ creates a solid blend between Krystal’s subtle vocals and Luna’s stronger timbre.
‘Diamond’ sounds closer to the quartet’s earlier releases while showing off Amber’s growth as a rapper. ‘Traveler’ sees the entrance of Block B’s Zico, and the contrast between his urgent rapping and the whimsical backdrop easily makes it one of the more memorable tracks on the album. Even though ‘Papi’ and ‘Cash Me Out’ are forgettable, 4 Walls wraps up with ‘When I’m Alone’ – a favourite number composed by Carly Rae Jepsen that traps listeners with the members’ delicate delivery before brings everything to an intimate climax.
Recommended tracks: ‘4 Walls’, ‘X’, ‘Traveler’ and ‘When I’m Alone’