[Album Review] First Collection (1st Studio Album) – SF9

This is a studio album review. It is lengthy.

SF9 made their return last Monday with Good Guy and their very first studio length album, First Collection. And a bigger congratulation to the members as this comeback has scored them their first (few) wins on the weekly music shows that we see each weekend. Good Guy scored first place on MCountdown and Music Bank this week, further proving that their popularity is growing between comebacks. Good job to the group and hope to see more wins the future, as they do deserve it. But before we go anywhere into the future, let’s have a close look at what their first album had to offer.

First Collection Album Cover

1. Good Guy (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Good Guy. (9/10)

2. Am I The Only One (나만 그래) Am I The Only One could easily have been a title track. There is a very classy profile to this track that I think many people might miss if they gloss through the album. I find this contrasts in a very distinct manner, as the song talks about being the only one in a former relationship to have their thoughts linger towards their former lover. The chorus was really smooth, and I thought the husky vocals Inseong brought to the song really ‘upgraded’ the song. The rappers also stood out in this song, which their parts providing a little interesting push and texture. There is a lot more that I wanted to say about this song. But due to the nature of the album review, this is not possible. However, I think the song can be described in one word: perfection. (9/10)

3. Shh – Another fantastic song on this album comes right after a perfect song. I like how seductive the song sounds. The limited brass that featured in the instrumental (during the pre-chorus and ending) was very smooth, while the guitar helped make the song groovy. I liked how they amped up the bass for the chorus, which made the instrumental sound so bouncy. I thought every member sounded really good in the song. The rappers did not have much of a presence in this song, relative to the second track. But their parts sounded really good, complimenting the vocalists and their slight seduction. (9/10)

4. Lullu Lalla (룰루랄라) – I wasn’t exactly sure what direction the song would take, given the song’s title. But once I heard the pop sound and the upbeat instrumentation, it all made sense. The instrumental or backdrop to the song was very vibrant, which I thought gave the song a strong appeal. There is a much brighter tone to the song, which does take everything we have heard in a different direction. I thought it was a nice palate cleanser, given its position after a number of intense tracks (the intensity in some was more subtle). There is a bit of autotune to the song, which I thought gave good textures to the otherwise traditional sound. The vocals and rapping were good. (8/10)

5. One Love One Love is another upbeat dance pop track. But unfortunately, it sounds pretty typical for its pop sound. And hence I find the song not as impressive when compared to the song around it. What the song does good is that it pushes forward with an instrumental that just keeps on going. I thought this was a good aspect of the song, as the flow does not get cut for majority of the song. The only break in the instrumental comes just before the final chorus and it does so in a neat manner. The momentum returns in full capacity for the final chorus and gives the song a decent ending, ending with how it started. (7/10)

6. Like The Hands Held Tight (널 꽉 잡은 손만큼) – Chosen as a secondary promotional track (i.e. promoted during their comeback week), Like The Hands Held Tight is a mid-tempo R&B track that sounds pretty decent. It shows off their classy side, as mentioned earlier in the review, and this makes this a good lead-in to their actual comeback title track. The track also reminded me of their O Sole Mio era, based on the way Taeyang sings ‘Take My My Hand’. To be honest, I wanted a little more to the song. I wanted it to be more engaging. The instrumental was bland and needed to be spice up in some capacity. The song would have benefited from this and developed a more engaging appeal. (7/10)

7. Fire (타) – For a song named Fire, I expected a little more when it came to the verses. I expected it to come roaring at me, as other tracks titled Fire have done in the past. But I thought the start (and second verse) was pretty tame in comparison. The chorus does make up for the flawed start by amping up the instrumentation, tempo and energy. The hooks were very catchy and addictive. I did place a huge question mark over the rapping, because I thought it needed more intensity. But more listens have removed this question mark. The vocal work was also quite good as well. (7.5/10)

8. Stop It Now (더 잔인하게) – Despite the song being on the shorter side, I thought Stop It Now was a very good song. There is a slowness to this song that I thought was aesthetically pleasing. I personally don’t think the song was ‘slowed’ to be seductive, though I am confident that these guys can pull off a concept of that type. Instead, the slowness drives the song. I liked how the beat is accented in this song, make it even more powerful. The vocals are dragged out, but in a way that works with the rest of the song and doesn’t feel unnecessary. The rapping is a tool used to add intensity to the song, making it even more engaging. (8.5/10)

9. Dance With Us (춤을 출 거야) – Given the title, I thought it was going to be vibrant and fun sounding. I wouldn’t say I was 100% right, but I was thinking in the same direction. What I didn’t expect was the song’s first verse to be very similar to Pentagon’s Humph!. It gave off the same vibe. The rest of the song doesn’t really sound the same, however. I did expect a little more ‘dance-centric’ or lively sound in the instrumental as the tempo may come off sluggish to some. However, I thought that the song was interesting as it is and had a SF9 profile to it. The ending was very unique, as the members kick up the tempo and give us that lively sound, I had desired. It was just short-lived. (8/10)

10. Beautiful Light – Based on my YouTube search, Beautiful Light was revealed at their concert last year. I seem to can’t find an English translation for the song. But given its position as the final track on the album, along with its performance at their previous concert, Beautiful Light is probably a track dedicated to their fans. The upbeat and happy instrumental is very upbeat and different from their usual style. There is a nice melodic ring to the song. The vocal work and rapping were also very good. Thus, ending the song on a happy tone. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

First Collection Teaser Image

[Album Review] Treasure Epilogue: Action To Answer (4th Mini Album) – ATEEZ

ATEEZ returned at the start of last week with Answer and a surprising continuation of their Treasure series. As mentioned in the song review I published last week (link below within the album review), Treasure is made up of 4 mini-albums (including this one), 1 Korean studio album and 1 Japanese studio album. Throughout this series as well, we have seen ATEEZ’s popularity grow exponentially and this latest album is bound to continue their growth into the future. The album contains an outro track as well but it will not be included in the final album rating.

Treasure Epilogue: Action To Answer Album Cover

1. Answer (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Answer. (10/10

2. Horizon (지평선) – All of ATEEZ’s tracks that I have grown to really enjoy (or enjoyed from the first listen) have been of an intense nature. Horizon fits in perfectly into this description, going with a strong dance instrumental that is bound to get you excited. There is this voice in the instrumental that is very yodeling-like. I thought it was a good addition to the song during the chorus, as it added an extra layer of character to the song. However, I felt that its addition at the start of the verses to be conflicting. It masks the vocals that kick off the song and makes it a tad messy. Horizon features awesome vocals and rapping as well, which makes another great addition to their discography. (8.5/10)

3. Star 117Star 117 is more of a ballad and it brings us down from the thrill of their title and preceding track. I thought it was rather soothing, with its flowy melody and touching band instrumentation. There is a little more of the instrumentation, with a rolling drum beat and electric guitars at the end to give the song that peak. Vocally, I think this is an excellent song. It shows off their vocals in a pleasant manner without going into the ‘high note’ territory. The rappers also sing in this song and I honestly can’t tell as they all sound so good. (9/10)

4. Precious Precious may be familiar to some fans as ATEEZ previously included a shortened version of the song on their studio length album, Treasure EP.FIN: All To Action. On this album, however, Precious is a full-fledged song going for almost 3 and a half minutes, featuring the same raps as the Overture track did and includes some new vocal work that we have heard yet. My previous comments regarding the instrumental and rapping (‘suspenseful and intense’, ‘on-point’ respectively) still stand. The vocals and additional rapping added to the song this time helps fill up the blank space and adds a more grounded feel to the song. (8/10)

5. Outro: Long Journey – Kicking off the entire Treasure series was the Intro: Long Journey, which started off Treasure EP 1: All To Zero. That track spoke about finding treasure and dreams. The outro is about how they found the treasure and their dreams over the course of the series. But at the same time, there is more to the story based on the line ‘Can you hear those voices?’. The ending is tweaked a little to include what fans are speculating to be a teaser to new song/release for the future.

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

Treasure Epilogue: Action To Answer Teaser Image

[Album Review] Solo Day (5th Mini Album) – B1A4

The first Past Album Review (PARs) of 2020 goes to B1A4. I thought I revisit them as it has been a while since we have heard from them (they are another group to have hit the age of military enlistment and are currently inactive due to this). The album chosen is Solo Day, which was released in 2014 (July 14th, 2014 to be exact). It featured the title track of the same name and 5 other songs (two of which are standout tracks, in my opinion). To see what they are, scroll down below.

Solo Day Album Cover

1. Solo Day (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Solo Day. (9/10)

2. You Make Me A Fool ( 내가 뭐가돼) – What really stood out to me in 2014 and what still stands out to me today with You Make A Fool (hereafter Fool) is the casual vibes. The lighthearted nature of the guitar strumming and refreshing tone that their vocals and rapping bring to the song really make it a nice sound. It is easy on the ears and I liked how they managed to get everything mould over the simple instrumentation that the song has. Fool is one of the many examples of Jinyoung’s songs that has blown me away. (10/10)

3. Are You Happy (With Him)? (잘돼가) – I liked the R&B and hip-hop infused side of this song. I think, at the time of release, B1A4 was known for more of their pop sound and energetic pieces. This is a mature side of B1A4 that sounded really good. Baro was extremely well highlighted in this song. His rapping really worked extremely well with the song, which featured a ‘golden’ instrumental feel. The other members do a good job as well, complimenting the song as well. There was good melodies and textures when it came to the singing. But Baro still managed to shine over the top. (8/10)

4. A Glass Of Water (물한잔) – This is one of the non-title tracks that I really enjoyed back when it was released. A Glass Of Water also made it onto a potential 5 Favourites post. But I cut the segment before even publishing that particular post. If I remember correctly, the song was meant to be A Glass of Soju. But as their fans were underage, it was changed to Water. It is another Summertime song that feels refreshing every time you listen to it. It is lighthearted and very B1A4-like (when it was released). The vocal and rapping was ideal and the instrumental really made it attractive to the ears. The hooks were also addictive, as well. (9/10)

5. Drive – I think out of the songs on the album, this one is most skippable. Drive does have a vibe that would suit a nice breezy drive. I liked the slightly bouncy nature of the instrumental. But it just didn’t feel different to song released by any other male group in the industry. It also didn’t peak and felt flat towards the end. The vocals did sound wholesome, while the rapping did help push the song along. But other than that, there isn’t much else to the song worth mentioning. (7/10)

6. You (ft, Sunmi)You ends the album with a surprising feature from Sunmi, who at the time only became recently active again through the release of 24 Hours, which pushed her back into the spotlight. It brings back B1A4’s mature sound and the group pairs well with Sunmi’s husky vocals. But when I listen to the song, I thought the two parties had a barrier that really prevented them from coming together neatly. There were good harmonies in the song, which I enjoyed. But I just thought they felt distinctly apart. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

Solo Day Teaser Image

[Album Review] The ReVe Festival: Finale (3rd Studio Album) – Red Velvet

Red Velvet made their comeback with Psycho and their third studio album at the end of 2019. Unfortunately, it was not part of the 2019 album review lineup due to its late release and hence it becomes the first album review to be released in 2020 (which obviously is occurring today). This studio album features 4 new tracks (including the title track, Psycho) and all the tracks that was part of the ReVe Festival series (to be linked within the review). These will not contribute to the final rating, however. In other related news, Red Velvet is no longer promoting Psycho due to the injuries that Wendy sustained during the 2019 SBS Music Festival rehearsal.

The ReVe Festival: Finale Album Cover

1. Psycho (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Psycho. (9/10)

2. In & Out – Red Velvet delves into R&B pop for this track. To me, the track felt like if a song from the group’s Red side was remade for their Velvet side, with the song feeling and sounding like it was polished and refined. There is a smoothness to the track, which I thought was very cool. I really like the heavy beat that features in the instrumental, followed by the trap sounds that really give the song some character. I thought the group’s execution of their vocal and rapping were top notch and worthy of a listen. As for the lyrics, the song portrays an on and off again relationship that they are experiencing. (8/10)

3. Remember Forever Remember Forever is a pop ballad that is bound to get you swaying along to the music. I really like that flowy side of the song, which really makes the song appealing to me. There is a grand nature to the song, which really made it feel extra special. I also enjoy how they incorporated some rapping. Usually, I wouldn’t be a fan of this tactic. But it worked really well this time around. Finally, I really enjoyed the harmonies that all the members contributed to at the end by singing together, bringing the series to a close in an inclusive and warm manner. (9/10)

To read the album review for The ReVe Festival: Day 1 (Sunny Side Up, Milkshake, Bing Bing, Parade & LP), click here. For the full review for Zimzalabim, click here.

To read the full album review for The ReVe Festival: Day 2 (Carpool, Love Is The Way, Jumpin’, Ladies Night & Eyes Locked, Hands Locked), click here. For the full review for Umpah Umpah, click here.

16. La Rouge – A special track included at the very end of the third studio album is La Rouge. La Rouge is actually the name of their recent concert and the track itself was also performed at the concert. I thought the instrumental was very ear-catching, going with that 1930s sound in modern way. The upbeat chorus also made the song appealing. Vocally, the members sound very sensual and different from their past tracks/styles (referring to both their Red and Velvet side that we have heard so far). It is a pity that this is a bonus track, as I would love to see more live performances of this track. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

The ReVe Festival: Finale Teaser Image

[Album Review] Moment (2nd Mini Album) – Kim Jae Hwan

Kim Jae Hwan is nominated for Best New Male Soloist in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Begin Again is also eligible for Best Song of 2019. To support Kim Jae Hwan, click here to vote before the 31st of December, which is in 2 days time.

Kim Jae Hwan is the focus for the final album review for the year and decade. I will update when album reviews will return in the new year on a later date. In the meantime, we will be diving a little deep into the soloist’s second mini-album, Moment (which features two title tracks, The Time I Need and Nuna). Kim Jae Hwan also joins the list of former Wanna One members to return a second time this year. I believe that leaves Ong Seong Woo as the only member to have one comeback this year, but he has been confirmed to be coming back in January 2020.

Moment Album Cover

1. The Time I Need (시간이 필요해) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for The Time I Need. (7/10)

2. After Party – While after parties tend to be full of celebration, Kim Jae Hwan’s After Party is a slow tempo track that delves into the R&B genre. I think the song is very straight forward and appealing to listen to as Kim Jae Hwan’s vocals feel very spaced out. It isn’t like other songs everything feels tight and loaded. I also enjoy the piano in the background and the simple percussion. He starts off the song in a rapping-like manner, but it progresses to showcase his vocals. I also like the inclusive nature of the chorus, which had him and the backing vocals singing together. I really like how his lyrics is remaining faithful to his partner, despite going to the after party and staying out all night. So wholesome. (9/10)

3. Nuna (Title Track) – As mentioned a few weeks ago, I do not review tracks without a music video. Nuna unfortunately fell into this category, despite it being one of Kim Jae Hwan’s title tracks for the album. The track is a lot more playful and vibrant, reflecting well with the song’s lyrics about being the younger person in the relationship. I like this vibe, which I also believe stay true to his age and personality. I thought the hooks were very catchy and aided the song in its playful tone. And based on the comments in which I am reading off YouTube, it seems like Nuna has many fangirls excited. (8/10)

4. Who Am I Who Am I goes into the soft rock genre, which I really enjoyed. The track features his vocals in a very pleasing manner, and this really made the song stand out for me. Other that that, there really isn’t much else to the song. But it is honestly great as simple as it is, and any additional features would be unnecessary and potentially destructive. I wished I had a little more to say to the song, but I don’t. (8/10)

5. Paradise (파라다이스) (ft. Park Woojin from AB6IX) – This is super exciting track as it brings together another two former Wanna One members, which shows that they do keep in close contact with one another. Paradise seems to have a slight tropical influence to it, opting for a more typical EDM sound in this day and age. But it doesn’t get intense and remains quite light, which I quite like. The light nature is also an accurate descriptor for the melody and hooks, which I think makes the song quite pleasant. Park Woojin features a rapper in the second verse and he brings a sleek feel to the song. (8.5/10)

6. ZZZZZZ seems to expresses the feelings that is present when you are spending the final moments of the day with your partner, even if they are not physically there. It is another wholesome song, which no doubtly goes extremely well with the soloist’s personality. It does have a typical feel to it, as the instrumental isn’t technically fresh or unique. However, the ZZZ that Kim Jaehwan repeats during the chorus is very catchy and I can confirm that a few listens to the song will have this hook engraved into your memory bank. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

Moment Teaser Image

[Album Review] Clé: Levanter (5th Mini Album) – Stray Kids

Stray Kids is nominated for Best Male Group and Best Male Choreography in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Miroh, Side Effects, Double Knot and Astronaut are also eligible for Best Song of 2019. To support Stray Kids, click here to vote if you haven’t before voting closes next Tuesday!

The second last album review of the year focuses on Stray Kids latest mini-album, Clé: Levanter. This third part has brought their Clé series to a close, following the release of Clé: Miroh (featuring the title track Miroh) and Clé: Yellow Wood (featuring the title track Side Effects). To help raise anticipation for the new release, Stray Kids released Double Knot in October and Astronaut in November, before dropping Levanter in December (all links below). This is also the first album release without Woojin, who left unexpected in November, which delayed the comeback to December. Let’s have a deeper listen to the album and its new tracks that we haven’t heard at all yet.

Clé: Levanter Album Cover

1. STOP – A commanding title to a very bold start to the mini-album. I am already sold. And it is even better as the song delivers intensity, energy and suspense through its fast tempo beat. To me, it feels dirty but in a good way. I also liked how they amp all those elements up by including that brief pause in the instrumentation just prior to the drop. Something that I did notice was that I associated the sound and vibe straight away to Stray Kids, which is definitely a good sign, as this means Stray Kids have a sound (at least, to me). The rapping and vocal work were equally superb. I am just not keen on the abrupt ending, though I had a feeling it was coming.  (9.5/10)

2. Double Knot (Pre-Release Track)Click here to read the full review for Double Knot. (9/10)

3. Levanter (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Levanter. (9/10)

4. Booster – The group throws punches with Booster and they land these punches perfectly each time. It brings back the more powerful synths and definitely packed a lot of energy within its instrumental composition. I do think it could have been bolder, as it did feel a little tame. I found the vocals to be more melodic, with the melody in the chorus reminding me of ‘00s tracks. The rapping is a little more robust and gives it that roughness that I have come to expect with Stray Kids. (8/10)

6. Astronaut (Pre-Release Track)Click here to read the full review for Astronaut. (9/10)

7. Sunshine Sunshine is a ballad with a typical Stray Kids touch. And quite a soothing one at certain moments. Ballads tend to draw out more of a delicate side of a group. And this was definitely apparent when it came to the vocal sections of the song. The rapping and autotune is that twist I mentioned, and it prevented that delicate side to fully flourish. I wished that maybe they kept the autotune to a minimum so that Sunshine can be a little more impactful. I did like the pulsing beat and appreciate their execution for this song, overall. (7.5/10)

8. You Can STAY – For those who don’t know, the group’s fandom name is STAYs. And given the emphasis of the word STAY in the title, You Can Stay is essentially a track for their fans, thanking them for making their members better. It is a nice track. I find it particularly refreshing, but that might be me experiencing sweltering temperatures in the past week. I did like the brightness that came from the track, thanks to the vibrant and bouncy instrumental. I particularly like the ‘uh-like’ synth in the instrumental, helping make the song memorable. (8/10)

9. Mixtape #5 – In the past, I never reviewed their Mixtape tracks. However, that changed earlier in the year when I sat down to review them as part of the Yellow Wood album review. So, I made the executive decision to also review them on their original albums from now on. It essentially is a song abut the colder weather and some of the lyrics is about their outfit. There is a fun touch to the band instrumentation, and it felt jazzy in some cases. I also found the track to be quite lively, which is something different in the season of emotions. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

Clé: Levanter Teaser Image

[Album Review] 360 (2nd Mini Album) – Park Ji Hoon

Park Ji Hoon’s performance for L.O.V.E is nominated for Best Solo Choregraphy in this year’s KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support Park Ji Hoon and your other favourite artists by clicking here to vote.

Between now and the end of the year, there will be three more album reviews (inclusive of this one). The first of the final three 2019 albums to be reviewed this year is Park Ji Hoon’s 360. His title track also shares the same name as the album. This is strong album from the solo artist, further highlighting his potential in the industry. Former co-member of Wanna One, Kim Jae Hwan, also participated in the album by co-writing the lyrics of the final track, Strange. To see what I thought of it, keep on reading!

360 Album Cover

1. I AM (Introductory Track) – Usually, I do not review the introductory track as it tends to be just an instrumental piece of some kind. However, if it contains vocals, I will include it in the review. Based on these criteria, you can tell by now that I AM contains Park Ji Hoon’s vocals. The track kicks off with a soft piano start, before transforming into a full-fledged EDM dance track. I really like his vocals in this song, especially paired with the background vocals and also the way he emphasised the English during the ‘chorus’ of the intro track. I also thought this was a nice and bright lead into the title track, 360. (8.5/10)

2. 360 (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for 360. (9/10)

3. WhistleWhistle takes a brighter approach, reminding the listener of Summer. It is super energetic and the instrumental even contains some subtle island sounds, hence why is suits the hotter months of the year. Park Ji Hoon does a really good job with his vocal work. His rapping, on the other hand, felt a tad too heavy and serious for the upbeat sound. I really liked the chorus of the song, with the ‘Whistle, Whistle now, Oh Oh Oh…’ keyed into my memory bank. I also like the fancy piano bridge we got. But it did feel a little ill-fitting for such a vibrant and energetic sound. But apart from that, it is a good track. (8/10)

4. Hurricane – When I saw a track titled Hurricane, I expected something a little more erratic than a smooth sailing track that Hurricane ended up being like. It isn’t a bad track, but I wish that Park Ji Hoon’s production team would be a little more ambitious with his sound. And besides, I feel like Park Ji Hoon would suit an edgy song. The song included some flute work, which did sound nice. His vocals did feel a little tight and I think it would have been a little nicer to hear some space in his vocals during some parts, especially paired with an easygoing and light-ish sound. I did like the chorus and the odd ad-lib that Park Ji Hoon throws in the background. (8/10)

5. Casiopea (닻별) – It seems like my prayers that I mentioned in the previous song’s review are answered. Casiopea is distinctively different to his previous tracks, throwing a whole heap of that requested edge. It has sharp impact to its sound through its snare drum-like instrumentation. I also really liked how they kept on pushing the song by adding to the instrumental. It helped it develop the song and really gave it a dynamic touch. His voice helped inject a bunch of textures throughout the song, which I thought was really cool. His rapping is also quite unique, very unlike his other tracks. (9/10)

6. Still Love U – The last two tracks on the album are the softer tracks on the whole album. Still Love U still has the upbeat sound to it and I can imagine a nice choreography routine paired to it. I thought the beat was cool and consistent, but the instrumental felt somewhat bland. His focus on vocals really showed in this song. As a rapper, there is a bit of a husky and raspy tone in this song, which really helped the appeal of the track. Given the lyrics, it is a sweet song which I am sure would appeal to fans as well. Overall, not bad. (7.5/10)

7. Strange (이상해) – The final song on the album is Strange. It is an R&B track with sweet lyrics, ending the album on a very positive note. Interestingly, the song doesn’t really get into the ‘strange’ territory. There is the odd quirk with a sudden deep autotune twist at the mid-point of the song and few other smaller sections throughout the song. Park Ji Hoon’s shows off several different vocal technique in this track that showcases his capabilities. But whether he nails it, I am not too sure. I really like the chanting part of the song, which was my favourite bit. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

360 Teaser Image

[Album Review] New Moon (6th Mini Album) – AOA

So many artists are nominated this year in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards, including BLACKPINK, Dream Catcher, Red Velvet, Oh My Girl, CLC etc. Click here to support your favourite artists before the 31st of December.

I am finally getting around to finishing the album reviews that I intended to do from October and November (every album review up from the next one to the end of the year are December releases). The final album from November and the focus of today’s album review is AOA’s New Moon, which was released on the 27th of November. This is the group’s first comeback since reforming a five member. Changing the number of members is always a challenge, particularly if the group has been well known for a previous set of members (i.e. AOA’s OT7). But I found that AOA’s return (through this album) was definitely proves that they haven’t been impacted negatively by the change in lineup and is still a force to be reckoned with.

New Moon Album Cover

1. Come See Me (날 보러 와요) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Come See Me. (7/10)

2. SorryClick here to read the full review for Sorry. (9/10)

3. Magic Spell (주문을 외워봐) – AOA shows an even stronger profile through Magic Spell. It is a typical pop track. But it features a bold and powerful rolling drum beat. There are some rock influences embedded in the instrumental, which really emphasis that strong side I am talking about. Alongside the whistling in the instrumental, I think the track ends up being very dynamic. I thought the vocal work was one of the best yet and the Jimin’s rapping packs a punch as expected from the rapper herself. One other thing I love about this track is the energy that comes off it, which also helps the track to become memorable. (9/10)

4. Ninety Nine – We start off with a sketchy autotune section courtesy of Jimin, with the lyrics just recognizable. The track then changes its tone with a more seductive and attitude heavy verse, on top of some bass guitars. The pre-chorus features some twinkling profiles, while guitars and falsettos are the main component of the chorus and the rest of the song. I thought the melody was quite strong and this helped the song become quite iconic on this album. The lyrics also go towards the suggestive/sensual side of the spectrum, which was definitely interesting. The song ends with another sketchy autotune segment, which I still have not warmed up to, despite it being at the start and end of the song. (8.5/10)

5. My Way – We end the album with My Way, which has a bold retro sound to it. The retro sound can be attributed to the brass present and the very deep thumping in the background helped with giving the song some stability. Though, I think the retro sound was loss towards the end thanks to the electric guitar. It was a catchy song, with strong hooks and a very appealing instrumental. I really like how the song pushed along with its momentum. Jimin’s rap sequence was also an interesting change up to the song, giving it edge and power in a unique sense. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

New Moon Teaser Image

[Album Review] The Dream Chapter: MAGIC (2nd Mini Album) – TXT

TXT is nominated for Best New Male Group and Best Music Video (for Crown). To support TXT, click here to vote for them and your other favourite groups before December 31st!!!

Now this is one very delayed album review. TXT returned back in October with Run Away (also titled as Nine & Three Quarters), which was featured on their second mini-album, The Dream Chapter: MAGIC. The main reason to why I held back their album review was due to the release of a few music videos during the ‘Album Review Blitz’ I did at the end of November/start of December. But I have since realized that I won’t be able to write separate reviews for them, so I will look at the music videos some other time. And that brings us back to their album review, which I will finally publish today.

The Dream Chapter: Magic Album Cover

1. New Rules – The first song on the album starts us off with a fun and vibrant sound, which I quite like. The instrumental has this retro funk that really gives it that fun tone during the chorus, otherwise it would have been a very standard dance number. But the song manages to keep the retro funk subtle, allowing the song to get serious. I also like the rock touch that the song has, which helped supply intensity to the song. The group’s vocals were good but the rapping was probably the bigger highlight, especially when it went low and almost whisper-like, giving the song a very intriguing start and end. (8/10)

2. 9 & Three Quarters () (Run Away) (Title Track) Click here to read the full review for 9 & Three Quarters/Run Away. (8.5/10)

3. Roller CoasterRoller Coaster is memorable, but it might only be so for a bad reason. All is good with the track up until the chorus. Everyone is saying it felt choppy. But to me, that piece was continuously looped. I am troubled by it, as it catches me off guard each time I listen to it and it does sound off-putting. Though, I assume that this was done for a reason. I just can’t see any reason that validates it. Some people have theorised that this was done to stimulate a roller coaster, but I don’t get this feeling at all. The vocal work in this song is pretty good, with it being consistent throughout the track. But that is the only thing good I can say about the track. (5/10)  

4. Poppin’ Star – We are treated with a soft-ish bubblegum pop-like through Poppin’ Star. It is still a dance track, but it’s extremely light and doesn’t pack any heavy synths in its instrumental. The group members sound more like their age in this track, innocent and very youthful. It isn’t anything special, but it was likeable and enjoyable. (7/10)

5. Can’t We Just Leave The Monster Alive? – Henceforth referred to as Alive, the track brings back the tropical house and island influences, a trend that has disappeared. Its presence is slightly refreshing, as it has been some time since I have heard this style (oh, what a break can do to you). I like the how the pre-chorus becomes light, before they throw the tropical/island sounds at us. While their vocal work and rapping was okay, I wanted more from this department. It gives the song a linear profile and pretty much made Alive feel one-dimensional. (6/10)

6. Magic Island Magic Island gives off an enlightening tone whilst dabbling in the R&B genre. It is the soft track, showcasing the groups vocals. I did like the huskier tone they incorporated into their voices, giving the smooth song some texture. The whistling in the background was a nice small detail. Overall, I find Magic Island to be quite different, given the fact that the group has been doing mainly dance songs up until now.  I would like to hear the group explore this sound, provided they don’t put typical sound destinations on their itinerary. (8/10)

7. 20cm – The group gets even huskier in 20cm, compared to their other tracks. They also answer my wish for further exploration of this side of the group. My first impression of the song was that it felt like a BTS track. Even some of their voices sounded similar to the senior group. While the song was soft and the instrumental being almost ballad-like, I really liked how they used to the vocals to build up the song. It allows for a stronger focus on the vocals and made the song so much more captivating. What the song needed was a rap sequence, which I think would have really suited this song. (8.5/10)

8. Angel or DevilAngel Or Devil returns the group’s sound to its more upbeat dance roots. The song seems to showcase subtle island influences in the background, but it overall felt like a typical dance track. I liked the fun and carefree vibe that came from the song. I also felt both the singing and rapping was on point in this track, bringing a slight hip-hop influence. It was also very catchy, bringing the album to a close on a very addictive note. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.4/10

The Dream Chapter: Magic Teaser Image

[Album Review] Obsession (7th Studio Album) – EXO

EXO is nominated for Best Male Group, Best Music Video, Best Male Choreography. Baekhyun and Chen are nominated for Best New Male Solo, with the latter also nominated for Best Vocals. Finally, EXO-SC is nominated for Best Subunit. Click here to support EXO and its members in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. 

Despite being downgraded to 6 members due to military enlistment and Lay’s continuous Chinese promotions, EXO has remained strong through their latest promotions. The group returned with Obsession, the title to both their 7th studio album and title track. This is the group’s first comeback since their return at the end of last year with Love Shot (which is also eligible for Best Song of 2019 in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – see above paragraph). The group, however, has been active through individual and unit promotions. So let’s see what their comeback after a year offers.

Obsession Album Cover

1. Obsession (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Obsession. (8/10)

2. TroubleTrouble features a slight reggae beat and mixes it with some trap elements, resulting in an epic vibe. This also got me intrigued, as it merges two styles that we often hear in KPOP into one and the combination does come off as unique. I liked their approach with the chorus, sounding anthem like. But the song did feel weighted. While this isn’t an issue for some songs, the weight in Trouble made it feel slightly sluggish and takes away the energy that the song could have potentially channeled. (8/10)

3. Jekyll (지킬) – I really liked how sleek the start to Jekyll sounded. It really sets the mood and tone of the track. The suspense it built was awesome and the members sounded really good. I just didn’t see the chorus coming. It continued that sleek sound, but the vocals opted for shouting and a rougher texture. This kind of makes sense, as the verses would represent the calmer Jekyll, while the chorus changes to a scarier tone, representing Dr. Hyde. Overall, another unique sound. (8/10)

4. Groove (춤)Groove is not what I had expected. It opts for a jazzy R&B number when we arrive at the chorus, whilst keeping it more R&B centred during the verses. There was also a sensual vibe to the song, which I thought the group nailed very well. Their vocal work was really good, with Chen’s vocals being a definite highlight. Chanyeol and Sehun’s rapping helped give the song some rhythm, I also loved the flute and how it transformed the song without going for an extreme change. (9/10)

5. Ya Ya YaYa Ya Ya had a good feel to it. It is a lot brighter in terms to sound and tone, when compared to the preceding tracks on the album so far. And I liked this energy, as a result. The vocals in the background were nice, giving the song’s already upbeat 90s influenced instrumentation. Their vocals were nice (once again) and the rapping had a good push to it. But I don’t think it is the most exciting track on the album. And that has stayed with me since my first listen to the album on the day after it was released. (7/10)

6. Baby You Are – I think the vocal work shined the brightest in Baby You Are. The harmonies were top-notch, and the chorus was very smooth. The vocal work was also very complimentary to the instrumental, which was funky and groovy. It just felt weighted. This time, I use this word in a more positive context, as this allowed the song to match with the more mature and serious sounds we have heard on the album thus far. I did think the song was rather fragile, but the rapping really gave this song some stability and that fragility that I felt was no longer present. (9.5/10)

7. Non Stop – For a second, the piano at the started sounded like Non Stop was going to be a ballad. But within a split second, the song transforms into a funky beat. I also love the retro vibe that the song throws in, thanks to the brass and percussion. The ‘Hey. A Little Bit of Love. My Love Non Stop’ line is amazingly catchy. I think the song could have went a little further, giving us a stronger chorus. But the hook that we got did enough and it is another great song. (8.5/10)

8. Day After Day (오늘도)Day After Day is another song that showcases the group’s vocals, singing over a simple instrumentation that opts for acoustic guitar to be the main centerpiece. The song has a nice melody. Given what EXO has showed us in the past, the song obviously sounds very nice and pleasant. However, it just doesn’t sound as amazing as before. It just feels like something we have heard before and hence I don’t find it special this time around. (6/10)

9. Butterfly Effect (나비효과) – We end with another amazing track, featuring great vocals and appealing harmonies that hook you onto the song within the first listen. The instrumental for Butterfly Effect places the song into pop territory and everything sounds so smooth in this track. I also quite like the melody and the beat it had. And given its position at the end of the track list, I put this down as a hidden gem. I feel like any other description I give will not give it justice, so I recommend you listen to this track. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

Obsession Teaser Image

[Album Review] Re-Boot (1st Studio Album) – Golden Child

Golden Child’s Spring Again and Hong Joo Chan’s A Song For Me are nominated for Best Song in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. To support Golden Child, click here to vote and select Golden Child’s 2019 as Best Song (final question in the survey).

Golden Child returned last month with their very first studio album. Titled as Re-Boot, the album also marks the beginning of a new era for the group, with the supposed ‘reboot’ of the group. Known for their more brighter concepts, the group made their return with a edgy and darker style through the title track Wannabe (link below). Let’s see how the rest of the album and group fares with the reboot.

Re-Boot Album Cover

2. Wannabe (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Wannabe. (7.5/10)

3. Lately (느껴져) Lately opens with a little retro throwback, before settling into the 80s with its driven background. It features synths that felt like it was pulled from an Infinite track; strings that give the chorus a grand launch and extra momentum; and electric guitars that really made a strong impression on me from the start. One thing that really stood out with me is that the song doesn’t go overboard with the synths and any EDM-element, like other dance tracks. Going hand-in-hand with the instrumentation are the vocal work and rapping sequences performed by all the members. I am not familiar with each individual member of Golden Child and their potential, but this shows great promise. (9/10)

4. Compass (나침반) – What stood out for me in Compass during my first listen was the effortless flow that the chorus had. It makes the song feel so pleasant and smooth. The vocal work and rapping was really good, once again. It showcases more of the group’s potential, extending what they presented to me in both the title track and Lately. I would have enjoyed the song a level more if the song had some sort of oomph to it. Whether that would have been in the instrumental or within the vocal work, I think the song would rivaled their more memorable works (i.e. Lady). (8.5/10)

5. No Matter What (by Jangjun, TAG and Joo Chan) – What the last two tracks is made within an instant from the very first second. No Matter What features a synth heavy instrumentation, which no doubt forces this track into dance territory. The trap influences in the instrumentation give way to a vibrant and powerful dance track. The song is also very rap intensive, with the verses focusing on the rapping work by Jangjun and TAG. Both sounds good here. Their delivery was very clean and helped boost the energy of the song to a new level. Joochan features during the chorus and I felt his vocal work was very clean cut as well, providing a little relief from the intensity brought upon by the rappers. (8/10)

6. A Song For Me (문제아) (by Joo Chan)Click here to read the full review for A Song For Me. (9/10)

7. Spring Again (그러다 봄)Click here to read the full review for Spring Again. (7.5/10)

8. She’s My Girl – Kicking off She’s My Girl is a very bold set of drums, before launching us into a concentrated funk mix that is very infectious and memorable. The energy that comes from this track alone trumps the rest of the songs on the album. On top of the upbeat and powerful energy/sound that the song delivers, the vocalists show off a powerful set of vocals. This was necessary and at the same time, they managed to enhance the boldness of the track. My favourite part of the entire track was clever the rap was incorporated into the song. I really liked that short pause in the background when the one of the rappers throw us the legendary line ‘I’m Gonna Make You Mine’. (9/10)

9. Our Heaven (둘만의 천국) (by Daeyeol, Seungmin, Donghyun) – Following the loaded She’s My Girl, we are gifted 3 and half minutes of relief through Our Heaven, which is performed by three of the members of the group. It is a decent track that is vocally centered. And I feel like the three did a good job with the material that they were given. I did like the pre-chorus, with it being the most memorable part of the song for me.   The song does feel like a typical pop track, however, which might just be the one thing working against the track for me. I just think if they incorporated more a rock sound towards the end, it would have been a little more captivating to the very end. (7.5/10)

10. Fantasia (by Y) – The second solo track on the album is by Y (who I gather is another main vocalist). He has a nice set of vocals, as demonstrated through the song. I liked how his song is not a ballad (we already have one solo ballad on the album). Instead, it takes on a form of a pop centered track. I would have liked the song to have more development. It felt too consistent instrumentally from start to end, so it would develop into a repetitive track quite easily through repeat listens. But it is still a decent track, overall. (7/10)

11. Don’t Run AwayDon’t Run Away is another pop track that sounds pretty good. I liked the pleasant nature of the song and how it doesn’t become overly saturated with any element. It is well balanced and has good momentum to it. It just doesn’t ping me as the best track on the album as there is bit of a typical vibe to it. I liked how the rapping was posed in this song, providing a little extra sprinkling to the song (in a good way). I also liked that high-pitch bouncy synth in the background. It is something quite typical but it works well in this song and is worth mentioning. (8/10)

12. Go Together (놓지 않기로 해) (by Jaehyun, Jibeom and Bomin) – The final song on the album features the final three members who have yet to have their ‘own’ track. I thought this was a great end to the album, as it a calming and pleasant song (in a soft manner). Go Together is a ballad that showcases the vocals of the three members in a very positive light. It isn’t a slow ballad, as the song does pick up along the way (appropriate for a ballad). The song itself reminds me of those tracks that the final set of trainees sing on stage prior to the announcement of their ‘final group’. I like those songs as well, so it is no wonder that I liked this one. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

Re-Boot Teaser Image

[Album Review] HELLO Chapter 2. Hello, Strange Place (2nd Mini Album) – CIX

CIX is one of the groups nominated for the Best New Male Group award in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Click here to support CIX and your other favourite artists!

Unfortunately, I will be ending the album review blitz today and the next album review will be published as per the original timetable (Friday). I think there are one or two more album reviews from the past few weeks that I have yet to touched and I will get to them before the year ends. Today, we will be having a listen to CIX’s first comeback, HELLO Chapter 2. Hello, Strange Place and their title track, Numb (link below). I previously reviewed their first mini-album, which featured their debut track, Movie Star.

Hello Chapter 2: Hello, Stranger Place Album Cover

1. Black Out Kicking off the album is Black Out, which is a powerful starter. I liked the seriousness that came with this track, the epic intensity that the song channels and the tune gives off the ‘don’t mess with me’ impression. I also like the focus on the rappers, with majority of the song going back and forth between BX and Hyunsuk. The song did lack strong vocal moments, which I think would have been more enticing. I felt Bae Jinyoung’s pre-chorus segment the most awkward in the song and that is why I thought so. (8/10)

2. Numb (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Numb. (7/10)

3. RewindRewind starts off with really smooth harmonies before launching into a loaded rap sequence. For the chorus, they went with melodic vocals and light bouncy synth-based instrumentation which gave off some hip-hop influences. My favourite part is when Hyunsuk said ‘Let’s Rewind’ before the song throws in a rewinding effect and we launch back into smooth vocals and a bumping rap sequence (similar to how the song started, but with a few changes to keep the song interesting). I thought the chorus was also quite catchy. All of this made the song standout for me. (9/10)

4. Bystander – I found Bystander to be a very smooth number. The vocal work and the subtly groovy instrumentation went very well with one another. It was extremely pleasant overall, and this gave the song an appealing feel. I liked how low this song went, which kind of reminds me of their Movie Star track in that sense. Despite its ‘smooth’ impression, the song is loaded with textures in a very subtle manner. From the rapping to the crunchy instrumentation, followed by the pauses in the music towards the end of the song. Finally, I liked how they all sang together at the end. (8.5/10)

5. Maybe I – The final song on the album is a R&B number that feels extremely chilled in comparison to the rest of the album. I give the group an opportunity to show off their vocal and rapping skills in a more wholesome manner. I feel like BX’s rapping is the cleanest in this song, alongside the vocals, which isn’t hidden or masked by much autotune in this song. The song is about a breakup, but I could help think about the lack of emotion in their voices. I feel like it needed more of that to be more impactful. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

[Album Review] As You Wish (7th Mini Album) – WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

WJSN (Cosmic Girls) is nominated for Best Female Group and Best Female Choreography in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. To support WJSN and your other favourite artists, click here to do so today!

The next album on the ‘album review blitz’ list is WJSN’s latest mini-album release. Both the title track and mini-album share the same name, As You Wish. These were released in the middle of November and the group has been actively promoting the release since then. This release follows the groups chart-topping hit, Boogie Up, which was released back in June. Let’s see whether the group can continue their momentum following their previous comeback.

As You Wish Album Cover

1. As You Wish (이루리) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for As You Wish. (8.5/10)

2. Luckitty-Cat (행운을 빌어) – One thing that I really like about Luckitty-Cat is how it just keeps going on. There is hardly a break in the song’s momentum. But this is no problem as the song is rather catchy and addictive. The lyrics and vocals tap into the group’s innocent and cutesy domain. I really like the melodies of the song as well, which was quite flowy and pleasant over the busy instrumentation I got. I also really liked the vibrancy of their vocals and the rap sequence in the song. Overall, a really good song from the group that could rival their title track, in my opinion. (9/10)

3. Lights Up (야광별) Lights Up is a ballad and it features a piano and (later on) orchestral instrumental. It is almost like a fairytale-like backdrop for the song, which I quite like. Apart from the instrumentation, their vocals are the other primary element present in the song. While some members sound good, I thought that their voices were a tad too loud for the instrumentation, overall. And in some cases, some members sounded off. Though I am not too sure why they sounded off. Furthermore, I wished they scrapped the rapping this song track. It didn’t feel necessary and wasn’t well incorporated in my point of view. (6/10)

4. WW (우와) – We return to the more upbeat and energetic sound that WJSN feels most well known for. Minus the start of the song, where they went with a retro synth start that was distorted and felt ‘broken’, the song is pretty much a funball rolled into a 3 minutes and 45 seconds. I really like the vocals in this track, as they play with pitches, which is rather cool. The rapping is also lively int this track and is different from their past tracks (Good Job Exy!). I like the vibrancy of this track well, which helps make it addictive. (9/10)

5. BADABOOM (바다붐) – I like how serious and mature sounding the song sounds. It is fierce in its own way, which I am sure is a side of WJSN that could potentially be brought into play if they group ever wants to undergo a direction change. I thought the song was catchy, thanks to the hooks. I also like how instrumental contained thumping instrumentation, which I think pairs well with the title BADBABOOM. The ending to the song was really awesome, giving the song a unique extension. I also like “Li La Li La’ part before the choruses. It was a nice quirk that really caught my attention. (8.5/10)

6. Full MoonFull Moon returns to that mystical and fantastical sound that the group is widely known for. The song features a catchy chorus and seems to incorporate a bit of R&B to the song. I like the vocal work and the rapping in this track as well. However, I can’t help thinking that this song is extremely weighed down and feel very dry. I want something with a little more oomph or bang to it, which I am certain would help retransform the song into something more interesting. (6.5/10)

7. Don’t Touch – This final song is fierce and powerful, which are words that I really enjoy using to describe songs. Exy’s rapping really brings the song to new a whole new level, which really makes it enjoyable. I feel like the producers didn’t do a really good job of mixing the instrumental with the vocals. One element is always overpowering the other in this song. You don’t get much opportunity to really appreciate an element because of it. But I like how they channeled their energy and I feel this is a very bold ending for the album, especially given WJSN’s image and pasty concepts. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

As You Wish Teaser Image

[Album Review] reality in BLACK (2nd Studio Album) – Mamamoo

Mamamoo is nominated for in 3 different categories (Best Female Group, Best Vocals, Best Female Choreography), while Hwasa is nominated for Best New Female Soloist and Best Solo Choreography for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Click here to support Mamamoo, Hwasa and your other favourite artists!!!

Mamamoo made their comeback two weeks ago with their second studio album, reality in BLACK (where BLACK is an acronym for Bless Life and Carry Knowledge). Their concept this time around showed us what the members of Mamamoo would be like if they were not part of Mamamoo in multiple universes. It is a very interesting concept that you should also check out in the music video below. HIP is the title track from this album, which also features their Queendom final track, Destiny (links all below). In addition to these 2 tracks, there are 9 other songs on the album. So let’s check them out!

reality in BLACK Album Cover

1. Destiny (우린 결국 다시 만날 운 명 이었지)Click here to read the full review for Destiny. (10/10)

2. Universe Universe is a straightforward pop track that has a nice pleasant melody and fun beat to it. It might not sound like there is anything special within the track if you just gloss over this track. But a more in depth listen to the song will yield awesome vocals, catchy vocals and an easy-going rap segment courtesy of Moonbyul. Two things caught my attention. This is very smooth, compared to songs released/promoted currently. Also, I really like how they personalise their songs. In Universe, they subtly incorporated their names into the lyrics, which I somehow managed to pick up within the first listen (Note: my Korean isn’t good). (8/10)

3. Ten Nights (열 밤) – The first ballad on the album is Ten Nights. And per any Mamamoo track (let alone ballad), the song features breathtaking vocals that captivate you. I honestly felt like it was well-suited for drama OST. The instrumental is standard for a ballad, so most of the appeal is made through their vocal work. Both Moonbyul and Solar’s high note really shocked me. I think Moonbyul’s high note was her first on stage ever, while Solar’s caught me off guard for a moment. Both Wheein and Hwasa were enthralling as well. The harmonies during the bridge between Solar/Hwasa and Wheein/Moonbyul was another highlight worth mentioning. (10/10)

4. HIP (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of HIP. (9/10)

5. 4x4ever 4x4ever is a very strong song. It makes sense as the song is all about self-empowerment, which is definitely one of Mamamoo’s domains. I really like the textures that the song features. From the heavy nature and crunchy rock elements found in the instrumentation, the breathy and raspy vocals and a rap sequence that aligns itself with the hip-hop genre, everything was powerful on its own and really worked together well to amplify this. It is a great track to listen to, but I wish there were one or two catchier hooks in this song. (9/10)

6. BetterBetter is decent 90s vibe track. I don’t hate it, but it isn’t my ‘go-to’ track on this album. I just prefer it when Mamamoo does something with a little more definition or oomph (if you understand what I mean). While the vocal work was awesome (Solar’s high notes and the member’s adlibs, as some examples in this song), I thought the melody was a little forgettable. I wished they did something more with the verses, which should have been better aligned with the powerful nature of their vocals during the chorus. (7/10)

7. Hello Mama – The second ballad of the album is Hello Mama. It is a ballad, with a jazzy influence, which I thought was nice. The member keeps their vocals from going into ‘powerful’ mode, which I think it is very fitting for the style. It feels like something that would have come from the 30s or be a theme song for someone with a well-known elegant image. It was beautiful to an extent. I just wished they dropped the rapping because it felt out of place in this track. But apart from that, it was good. (7.5/10)

8. ZzZz (심심해) – The title of the song essentially refers to being ‘bored’. And I thought the lyrics of the song encompassed this theme very well. It features a quirky instrumental, made of instruments that you wouldn’t find in a standard song. And while it is quirky, I found it very interesting that the energy levels of this song was kept down to a minimum (which in hindsight does go well with the title and lyrics). It is almost like the quirky moments of the instrumentation was made due to the sheer boredom, while the producers were lying down on the floor or half their body was hanging off their bed. The melodies were nice and pleasant. (8/10)

9. rEALITY – The next track on the album is the reggae influenced rEALITY. But the reggae influence is not strong, and nor do I find anything too special about the instrumentation. Instead, it is the vocals that do most of the appealing in this track. I really like how they brought different textures within their voices to the song, giving each section a unique and different feel, relatively to what we had already heard in the song. I really like Hwasa’s ‘I’m Fine, I’m Hurt’ line that follows the chorus. It felt very loaded, despite the instrumental being stripped back to nothing and Hwasa singing that line very softly each time. (8/10)

10. High Tension (춤을 취)High Tension is a groovy and jazzy R&B number. The song contains good vocals and rapping. Harmonies are probably High Tension’s strongest point. The instrumental also pushed along nicely. But other than that, there wasn’t anything worth pointing out, honestly. It is a standard track and probably my personal pick for the track to skip over on the album. (6/10)

11. I’m Your Fan I’m Your Fan has a very addictive and alluring beat, despite it being like any other pop track we have listened to. I liked how the chorus continued with instrumental of the verse with very little fuss or added elements, keeping the song relatively consistent. There was a mini breakdown in the middle of the song, which I did like, which gave the song a break from becoming too consistent and overly tiring over multiple listens. The song’s main hook has to be the ‘I’m Your Fan, Your Fan, Your Fan’, which followed the chorus and provided a cute element to the song through its autotune. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

reality in BLACK Teaser Image

[Album Review] Blue Flame (6th Mini Album) – ASTRO

ASTRO is nominated for Best Male Group and Best Male Choreography. Click here to support ASTRO and your other favourite artists.

The next album to be reviewed as part of the ‘album review blitz’ is ASTRO’s Blue Flame. The album also features the title track of the same name (and the link to the review can be found tomorrow). I found the title to be intriguing and thought I give the album a listen. And I know how cheesy this sounds, but I am glad I gave it a listen as there are a few extra good tracks on here. Overall, I found the album to be promising release for the group and you can find out why below.

Blue Flame Album Cover

1. Blue Flame Click here to read the full review for Blue Flame. (8.5/10)

2. Go & StopGo & Stop is a memorable song thanks to a few elements. The hooks in this song are quite strong and catchy, such as ‘Go & Stop’ in the chorus (sung by MJ) and ‘Bye Bye Bye, You’re My Lie Lie Liar’ towards the end of the song. The instrumental was also enjoyable, with the synthetic flute-like sounds and the rhythmic drive that the guitar and percussion brought throughout the rest of the song. There is a subtle Latin flair in the instrumentation. And whilst it is an overwhelming and overused genre in KPOP, I found the subtle nature to be somewhat refreshing than the usual use of Latin influences. Their vocal work and rapping were also awesome, aiding in the song becoming quite enjoyable. (8/10)

3. All About You (다야) – Another catchy and upbeat pop number. The ‘Daya ya ya ya’ (the Korean title of the track) is addictive and added a fun element. The pop instrumental had a bright and energetic feel, continued this fun vibe, which automatically felt like a throwback to some of their earlier releases. This one just feels a lot more mature sounding for the group. Unfortunately, there is a typical side of the track that does seem to weave its way to the forefront on the song. Despite it being catchy, there wasn’t anything special with the instrumentation. The vocal work and rapping were easily forgotten (despite the catchy chorus).  (7/10)

4. When The Wind Blows (찬바람 불 때면) – When I look at the title of this song, it really yells out ‘ballad’. But instead of a ballad, we get more of a dance track. I like When The Wind Blows, as it toned down in a fashionable manner during the verses. But it picks up instantly during and after the rap sequences, giving the song an influx of energy to really make it standout. Sure, there might not be a special element when it comes to the instrumentation. But I found that the vocals and rapping gave the song some edge, helping it stand out some more. (9/10)

5. You’re My WorldYou’re My World is another great track. One thing that I really found interesting in this track is how the vocals pulsed during the pre-chorus and chorus. I thought this was a very nice and unique effect to give the song. I also really liked the rapping sequence in this track. Jin Jin emphasis certain words by shouting them out in the background. Rocky had very smooth delivery and flowy lines. Other than the pulsing effect, all the vocalists helped give the song a nice melodic touch which helped make the song a pleasant number to end of the album with. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

Blue Flame Teaser Image

[Album Review] Love Poem (7th Mini Album) – IU

IU is nominated for Best Female Soloist, Best Vocals and Best Music Video in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. To vote for IU and your other favourites, click the link here!

Rising to the very top of the charts upon its release last week is IU’s Love Poem. This is her 7th mini-album. The album also shares the same name as her pre-release single, which is featured as the closing track of the mini-album. The album is also IU’s first since 2017 and also features Blueming and the You & I continuation, Above The Time (links below). With chart-topping songs and album, let’s see what IU has to offer this time.

Love Poem Album Cover

1. Unlucky – The first song on the album is Unlucky. What I really like about this track is that, as an opener, it puts you in a good mood for the rest of the album (regardless of how emotional the album could possibly get). The song features an upbeat and retro-centred instrumental that really compliments the softness of her vocals. The harmonies and melody are quite memorable and exude a pleasant feel, which helps the song become very appealing and enjoyable. (9/10)

2. The Visitor (그 사람)The Visitor is a slow jazz song that oozed a lot of personality. It was also quite slow, considering the tracks that surrounded it. But just because it is a slower song, it doesn’t affect IU’s vocal work, which is equally as captivating as the other tracks on the album. The use of the guitar as part of the instrumentation was very interesting and unique, giving the song a slightly creepy side. Her vocals also contributed to this feeling as well. In addition to that, I found the song really hold me in my place, as I feel the need to finish the song whenever I am listening to it (which is obviously a good thing). (9/10)

3. Blueming (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Blueming. (10/10)

4. Above The Time (시간의 바깥) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Above The Time. (10/10)

5. Lullaby (자장가)Lullaby is a beautiful and soothing track to listen to, fitting with its Lullaby title. The only two elements to this song are IU’s beautiful vocals and a piano that pairs extremely well with one another. And while these comments are practically enough to give you a small insight, I just wanted to stay on this song for another second (to keep this review somewhat balanced). I love its simplicity and her breathy vocals. (9/10)

6. Love Poem (Pre-Release Track) – If there are three words to describe this song, it would be ‘breathtaking and powerful’. So powerful that it is a song that you don’t even need to know what the meaning of the lyrics are as you can hear the emotions as IU captivates you. And there is no doubt that the song makes you reflect upon your emotions once it wraps up. The line ‘Here I Am’ is extremely memorable. Her vocals in this track are what gives the song the ‘breathtaking’ descriptor. I also like how the song doesn’t remain as a straightforward classical ballad, building up as it progresses and incorporating a rock component. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.5/10

Love Poem Teaser Image

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