It's been about a year-and-a-half since MBLAQ released an album. The boy band had the biggest success of their career last January with "This Is War" and its accompanying EP, 100% Ver., before quickly bowing out of the musical spotlight to focus on acting and variety show work. It could be seen as a bad move for the boys to pull the plug on the K-pop just when they were getting more popular, but some opportunities are too good to pass up, and in the group's defense, their various K-dramas and variety shows all did pretty well in the ratings.
Now they're back with their fifth mini-album, Sexy Beat, and a hot new single, "Smoky Girl". "Smoky Girl" sees MBLAQ returning to the dance-pop sound of previous hits, "Stay" and "Mona Lisa", but with a grown 'n' sexy upgrade. Lyrically, the boys are trying to pick up some damaged goods at the bar after midnight, while the dark, electro-driven production echoes the blunt thumping of a nightclub when you're standing out the front for a cigarette break. Like all of MBLAQ's music, "Smoky Girl" isn't the most forward-thinking pop song around, but it's still miles away from being as safe and derivative as Shinhwa's latest guilty pleasure, "This Love" (which we actually love -- don't get it twisted!).
All in all, a very solid comeback from a very good boy band. Let's just hope it doesn't take them another year-and-a-half to make their next one.