As with Nothing's Good Enough, Bang Jun-seok brings a distinctly British modern rock influenced sound into his work, noticeable instantly in the opening track, "지울수 없는 너", which has a touch of Oasis in its rocking chorus while Bang himself sings a more plaintive song on the verses, which are significantly more restrained than the chorus, providing a nice bit of dynamism for an excellent opening track. Yi Sung-yol takes up the second track with "그대 영혼에" writing and performing the whole thing on his own, so it's no surprise that it sounds pretty much like the kind of rock music he'd produce in his subsequent solo career, except with a touch of 90's U2-esque falsetto on the bridge.
Similarly, Bang Jun-seok also has "나의 다음 숨결보다 더 아름다운 너를 원하고 있어", a pop-rock track that sounds a lot like some of the more pop-like tracks that he's produce for soundtracks under the moniker Blue in Green, especially in the arrangement of the rhythm section, while his melodic composition for this song would be echoed later on "Sunflower" on the soundtrack to the movie ...ing.
And, of course, adding a new studio recorded version of "세상 저편에 선 너" on Cry... Our Wanna Be Nation invites a comparison. The new arrangement pushes more distorted guitars in place of synths and picks up the tempo just a little, which ends up pushing the track deeper into rock territory, dropping the U2-style guitars and falsetto, but while Yi pushes his vocals grittier at times than the original version and occasionally more distorted, it's also his vocal that really lock down the song and keeps it entirely recognizable--it's more of a modification than an actual rethinking of the original composition.
Also, with both Bang and Yi at least semi-fluent in English, they actually have several songs on Cry featuring or entirely written in English, with Yi's "그대 영혼에", his "천국보다 낯선" and Bang's "Moments" all having entirely comprehensible English lyrics.
One of my favorite moments on the album is the song "La La La La Day", which has a jazzier arrangement with its brushed drums and cymbals and piano. Combined with Yi's distorted vocals and touches of singing guitarwork, it actually sounds like a sonic predecessor to one of my favorite 2000's Korean bands, MOT on the intro and through the verses, with a little more Yi-like bombast, obviously. Then Yi takes the song into a rocking overdrive for a bit. Despite ending with a bit of an anticlimax and the mix probably putting Yi's vocals too up front, I really like the alternate song structure and how Yi works outside of the sound that I've been accustomed to hear from his solo work.
All that said, I think it's kind of clear that U&Me Blue was pushing towards inevitable solo careers for each member as each song feels like it more distinctly belongs to either Yi or Bang with Yi being a little more present on the track count. Several of the tracks don't even feature both members of U&Me Blue with just one of the two backed by session musicians. As such it's probably not much of a surprise that the duo split up after this album. But even so, the aesthetic of U&Me Blue is still itself noticeable--yes it sounds like a fusion of the two members distinctive sounds, but some of the tension from that fusion is what makes it aurally captivating at times.
So Cry... Our Wanna Be Nation, being as similar to Nothing's Good Enough, perhaps pushing the rock a little more as well as Bang and Yi's distinct sounds more, will obviously and absolutely appeal to fans of both the duo's first album as well as fans of either members' solo works. But it also won't convince those yet uncompelled by any of those either. But since I do like Bang, Yi and Nothing's Good Enough, I think Cry... Our Wanna Be Nation is a fine album and one that deserves its legacy in modern Korean rock history alongside the band that produced it. 8/10
- 지울수 없는 너
- 그대 영혼에
- 나의 다음 숨결보다 더 아름다운 너를 원하고 있어
- 천국보다 낯선
- 그날 1 (original version)
- 세상 저편에 선 너
- La La La La Day
- 언제나 내 곁에
- 그날 2 (pseudo live version)
- 지울수 없는 너 (beta version)