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NU’EST W has returned with their final mini-album release before Minhyun (who is currently promoting in Wanna One) returns to reform back into NU’EST. Since the unit’s inception, they have released 2 (W, Here and Who, You) mini albums, making WAKE, N their third mini-album to date. The album features two full group tracks and 4 solos from each member. Like HOTSHOT’s album review, I am excited to see what Minhyun brings back to the NU’EST. But before we can even get to there, let’s have a closer look at the album.
1..L.I.E – Starting off the subunit’s final release is L.I.E, which is a mature R&B dance track. It is on the slower side of the spectrum, but it isn’t too slow to really feel boring. There are some percussions and soft piano in the background to really make it a little more interesting and gives a nice soft tone to the song. I think one of the main charms for this song is that it doesn’t really pick up. It is one of the songs where consistency works well. The rapping was good, but I wanted more of it. As for the vocals, there was a gradual build up as we proceeded to the end of the song but I liked the fragile feel from them, which I felt was fitting for the slow nature of the song. (8/10)
2. Help Me (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review of Help Me. (9/10)
3. WI-FI (Aron Solo) –WI-FI is a good song. It is extremely easy on the ears and doesn’t rely on too much to really make itself appealing. Instead, WI-FI goes for a more repetitive instrumental, featuring a staggered effect and some soft piano. While I describe it as repetitive, I actually don’t find the repetition overused or too much. Maybe that is due to the subtle nature of the instrumental. I liked his vocals, especially the more energetic ‘WI-FI’ at the end of the choruses, giving some nice contrast. Aron also taps into some rapping during the bridge, which I thought was cool. (8/10)
4. I Hate You (JR Solo) – Out of all the solos on this album. I think I have to say JR’s is my favourite. For the verses, the instrumental is quite soft, which accompanies his softer rapping technique. He also goes into vocals for the really intriguing ‘I Hate You. I Need You’ start/pre-chorus. The song remains soft up until the choruses, which blasts us with a little bit of rock and angst. I really like the ‘Nal Nal’ start of each of his lines during the chorus, which provides a very strong and appealing hook. This comes unexpectedly, and it is this unexpected nature that makes this song stand out for me. The contrast between the different sections was amazing. I also liked the ending, with the dance mashup with the rock elements (before going soft once again). (10/10)
5. You & I (나, 너에게) (Ren Solo) – Ren’s solo is a rock ballad and it brings me back the feels from Kim Sung Gyu’s solo work (which I am a very big fan of). I thought the build-up to the chorus was really nice, as it gradually introduces the rock sound to the song. Ren’s vocals were extremely fitting and the melody in the chorus was quite dream-like. A part of me feels like this is already great but I wanted more of a peak to the song. As mentioned, there is a build-up but it kind of plateaus at the end, which leaves me a tad disappointed. But overall, it is still a good song. (7/10)
6. FEELS (Baekho Solo) – I think Baekho’s solo plays towards his strength. He has a strong set of vocals which feel more fitting for upbeat styles rather than ballads (but I think that might be the bias from all the NU’EST singles I have listened to). FEELS is an R&B upbeat mixture of electronic, which sounds very good. His vocals are nice in this song, where it is even utilised as part of the instrumentation. The most surprising element is his rap, which seemed to catch all fans off guard. The mixture of the vocals, raps and instrumental creates a brighter tone and allows the song to end on a more upbeat note, rather than something slow, serious or ballad-y, which would have been the case if any of the others were selected. (8.5/10)
Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10