[Album Review] Treasure EP.FIN: All To Action (1st Studio Album) – ATEEZ

ATEEZ returned in early October with their very first full-length album, Treasure EP.FIN: All To Action. This full-length album brings the Treasure series to a close, which also features 3 mini-albums. Unfortunately, I only got around to reviewing one of them so far (Treasure EP.2: Zero To One) but I am quite sure you might be seeing the other two mini-albums next year in the PARs (Past Album Review) segment. But until then, let’s have a deep listen with the full-length album, which I am extremely satisfied with. The album also contains one intro track, one interlude-like track and one outro, but I have chosen not to include them in this review.

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Treasure EP.Fin: All To Action Album Cover

2. Wonderland (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Wonderland. (8.5/10)

3. Dazzling LightDazzling Light starts with a dramatic guitar or piano piece didn’t add really add much to the song. The song then quickly progressed to a synth-based dance track that is more of ATEEZ’s territory. I really liked the EDM drop to this song as it made the entire song very vibrant and intense. I also like the vocal moments in the song, such as the pre-chorus. It gave a beautiful touch to an otherwise robust and very powerful tone. The bridge is a little bit of a mess of rough synths that I didn’t like standalone, but it paired well with the chorus instrumental drop. The rapping was also quite good though I wanted a little more intensity from this aspect. Overall, Dazzling Light was one fantastic song that I really enjoyed from this album. (8/10)

4. MIST (안개)MIST introduces us to the softer side of ATEEZ. I really liked this song as well, for this one aspect. That being said, the song still manages to incorporate a fair number of synths into the mix, hinting a possible dance for this song. Synth or not, the song does give way to amazing vocals heard from start to end. I was thoroughly impressed by each vocalist in this group from this song alone. I also like how the rappers still manage to keep their intense and rough tone, which I thought contrasted nicely with the smoother aspects of the song (i.e. vocals). The saying ‘stay true to your roots’ applies well to MIST. (9/10)

5. Precious (Overture) – I will not be including this in the final review. But wow, this is one suspenseful and intense piece of music. The rapping was on point and the harmonies in the background really pulled everything together. I find it interesting that it is titled as an overture (which upon searching up its meaning, is an opening for a musical piece) rather than an interlude (a musical piece that pulls sections together to make a cohesive piece).

6. WINWIN is a lot more energetic and upbeat than their previous tracks on the album. It is another intense hip-hop dance track that ATEEZ nails. I really liked the fast beat in the second half of the chorus, which really enticed the song for me. That is very closely followed by electronica we got just before launching in the final section of the song. I also liked the keyboard outro, which made the song intriguing. These are small details that I thought transformed the track into such a cool piece. The vocals are good but I think the rapping was the real winner, along with the repeated ‘Rocky’ reference in the chorus (because who doesn’t love a good Rocky reference)! (8/10)

7. If Without You – ATEEZ returns to their softer side through If Without You. It also loses a lot of the synths that we heard from the group through their other tracks. With this sound, it conforms to the typical male group sound. It is a nice temporary change and I quite like it. You get to hear a wholesome side of their vocals and I thought the rapping wasn’t too bad. There are a few things that I didn’t enjoy about the song, namely the ‘Wah’ and ‘Ah’ that they do in the background. It felt really awkward and stole my attention from the vocals and rapping sections. (7.5/10)

8. THANK U (친구) – When I look at the lyrics for this song, it seems like THANK U is a song dedicated to their fans (Tiny). With that, I don’t want to be overly critical as that would just ruin the atmosphere for a meaningful song. The good thing is that ATEEZ does a nice job so I don’t need to be critical in any way. I really liked the slight rock influence we got in the chorus and the chorus was quite catchy in my opinion. I liked that mini outro of harmonies they did, which felt random but worked nicely with the rest of the song. (8/10)

9. Sunrise – I have my pick for the hidden gem on this album. Sunrise is a song of encouragement. It just doesn’t do it in a stereotypical way, which is why I find it so appealing. Firstly, the song starts off in a very peaceful manner. Then they add that ‘No matter what…’ robotic singing filter which was a nice textural change. They then turn the song into a stomping beat, which kind of feels like they were making a statement out of it. It all somehow comes together nicely and ends up taking us on a textural rollercoaster along the way. I also liked how they all sing together at the end, which really takes the track home one last time. (10/10)

10. WITH U (걸어가고 있어)WITH U is the final song on the album. It is also quite unexpected. I have described a few tracks as being soft due to lessening reliance on the synths that ATEEZ has heavily used. But this one is their softest in terms of style on the album. I think with the laws of albums, you probably have guessed my description so far has alluded to a ballad. Yeah, it is pretty typical, but I find their execution to be on point. Vocals and rapping felt very fitting for the stylistic change. I personally wouldn’t mind having heard a few more of this genre from the group (provided they know how to spruce each one up to make it sound slightly different). (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

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Treasure Ep.FIN: All To Action Teaser Image

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[Album Review] Two Of Us (1st Studio Album) – LABOUM

It is time for another album review! And for this album review, we are going back in time to before October! Laboum made their comeback on the 19th of September with Firework and their first studio album, Two Of Us. This is their first full-length album after being active as a group for five years. Two Of Us also features solo songs from each member, which makes the album sound so exciting to fans, like me. So let’s get this album on the road!

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Two Of Us Album Cover

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

3. You’re The Light (잡아줄게)Firework, along with their previous two title tracks, has a slight monotone appeal to them. You’re The Light is the first track in a long while from Laboum that has a bit of colour to it. Unfortunately, the track does come across as a standard b-sidetrack on a female group’s album and is slightly bland. Thankfully, once saving the element of You’re The Light is that it gives us an opportunity to listen to the vocals, which was definitely highlighted strongly during the chorus. The instrumental is nice dance-pop style that gives off a pleasant vibe. But once again, plainness is a persistent issue. (7.5/10)

4. SatelliteSatellite is ballad that can be sung for a lover. But it can easily be passed off as a song for their fans. It is rather simple overall, but I can guarantee you, you won’t be disappointed. It showcases explosive vocals from Soyeon, ZN and Yujeong. While Solbin and Haein do appear to be the weaker vocalists of the groups, they do bring their own touch to their own parts. The song has a nice melody that really caught my attention. The English lyrics were presented in a way that made it very catchy and this was another likeable aspect of the song. (9/10)

5. Stay There (이별 앞에서) – Kicking off the solo tracks on the album is Yujeong. She is one of the main vocalists of the group (if you don’t know who she is yet). At first, I thought she was singing a ballad. The song was presented that way. But the song picks it up and reverts a nice pop track. I really like her vocals in this song. I have known her to be a good vocalist but I too did not expect this quality from her. It did feel like her vocals were a tad too loud for the instrumentation and I thought if they were somehow more together, this would have made for a great song. (8/10)

6. Two Of Us – Next up on the solo track series is Soyeon. Despite being the main vocalist, her solo track doesn’t conform to what I have noted in past reviews when it comes to main vocalists and ballads. Two Of Us is quite synth-heavy and feels more like a dance track. The instrumental is very typical of EDM and it doesn’t offer much in that regards. What I thought was very impressive was the vocals, which is expected from her. I liked how piercing the ‘Two Of Us‘ during the chorus was and this made the track very memorable for me. (9/10)

7. Actually, This Is A Secret (사실 이 얘기는 비밀인데) – ZN’s solo track, Actually, This Is A Secret, is an R&B number. This stylistic choice doesn’t necessarily surprise me as she gives off an impression that R&B might be her thing. I have to admit the instrumental to this song is extremely boring and it really drags down the song for me. I did like her vocals. They were balanced. I appreciate that she didn’t go powerhouse, like the two previous members. It gave a slight relief and adds a pleasant tone to the mix. (7.5/10)

8. HUSHHUSH is Haein’s song. Haein doesn’t come across as a strong vocalist when she sings in the group’s tracks. But her voice is distinctively unique and she sometimes is able to add her own colour. Her solo song was actually quite good. Her vocals were showcased in a nice light for this seductive R&B dance number. I really like the ‘Baby Hush Hush’ line that she sings at the start of the song, reminding me of the many pop divas we had in the early 00s. I was a little perplexed when it came to the pepper cracker during the chorus and thought the chorus itself could have been a little more melodic and smoother. (7.5/10)

9. Diary (일기) – The final member of the group that we have yet to discuss is Solbin. Interestingly, Diary was a ballad number and I had not expected that. I honestly expected a dance number from her, since she also doesn’t come off as a great vocalist compared to some of her fellow members. I find this a nice song but that is the best thing I can say about it. Her vocals are so-so. She does handle her higher notes well. Like ZN’s song, I found the piano instrumental in this track to be rather typical and bland. I wanted there to be a little more to the track. (i.e. more instrumentation to really enhance the song, like other ballads). (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

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Two Of Us Teaser Image

[Album Review] The Book Of Us: Entropy (3rd Studio Album) – DAY6

Another Sunday and another album review. It feels weird posting an album review on the weekend after a long break from doing so. But I need to get back onto the routine if I were to catch up on all the albums that I had missed on previously. But as mentioned last time, I will be covering recent albums as well. Today’s artist is DAY6 who returned with Sweet Chaos the other week. Sweet Chaos is the title track off their 3rd studio album (The Book Of Us: Entropy), which is what I will be reviewing today.

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The Book Of Us: Entropy Album Cover

1. Deep In Love – I really liked the rock and grungy vibes that came from Deep In Love, which is the route that I enjoyed most from DAY6. The instrumental break during the bridge was awesome! But over the last few comebacks, the band has taken on different routes that I have also thoroughly enjoyed. I really liked the filter they put their vocals in this song, which felt like they were shouting in a subtle way (i.e. not going screamo). Usually, I wouldn’t like the autotune filtered vocals but I really thought it added a really interesting texture to the rocking song. The song packs a punch and opens the album on a memorable note. (9/10)

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

3. EMERGENCY – I thought that EMERGENCY is a fun little song and a slight change from the more powerful and emotional songs that they have put out. I really like the golden retro sound that comes from this, which bumps the fun out quite well. While I know they aren’t dancers, I can see them perform with some sort of small routine, which would enhance that fun vibe even further. Vocal work was fine and the song was quite catchy thanks to lyrics repetition. (8/10)

4. Rescue Me – After that fun number, the group launches back into the rock vibe with Rescue Me. A few things stood out for me. The first is the instrumental, since the song literally throws the rock vibes at you from the very start. The second must be the chorus, which had a nice ring melodically. The vocal work was nice. Sungjin’s raspy vocals during the chorus was my pick for the best in the song. However, I wasn’t blown away by the entire vocal package. I feel like the rock instrumentation, especially when it came to the verses, drowned out the vocals a tad bit. This might have been my personal preference, however. But still a decent track. (7.5/10)

5. 365247 – I like the song. It is a little unique to me, thanks to the various vocals we heard throughout the song. The normal pitch, the higher pitch and Dowoon’s deep voice (Yes!!! Dowoon is in this song!!!!) really made it feel like a rollercoaster. The instrumental was so so. But I did notice was a lot simpler than their past tracks and this made the vocals shine even brighter. The title of the song was a little odd. I understand the title (i.e. what the string of numbers mean) but I didn’t see the connection between it and ‘jumping into the fire’, which was more emphasised than 365 days, 24 hours and 7 days of the week. (8/10)

6. About Now (지금쯤) – The first thing that jumps right at me with About Now is its calmness. The sound is a lot lighter in comparison to the preceding songs, which I thought was nice. I liked the beat and the acoustic nature of the instrumental, which is a change from what we have heard so far as well. I did like the vocals for the most part. But I felt here the autotune was distracting. I know I have mentioned otherwise for at least two recent tracks. It did give off a nice texture. But I think it took away a wholesome feeling from the song. (7/10)

7. Ouch (아야야)Ouch is another fun song in the mix on this album. It is also another interesting track. It seems to go almost towards a reggae direction, which would have been unique for DAY6 (I think). Some of the vocal work (i.e. the post-chorus hook sung by Young.K) seemed to take the song in that direction, despite the rest of the track being a little more typical. Come to the think of it, Young K’s post-chorus was pretty random. But hey, it caught my attention (and most likely yours as well), drawing your attention back to the song to really understand what had just happened. It is a smart tactic. (8/10)

8. Not Fine (나빠)Not Fine is good song. I do admit that this one was a little plain and hence, I have very little to say about it. There was some grand vibe to it. But it just didn’t blow me away. The vocal work was good and the melody was nice. I just wished there was a little something more to this song. It also seems like we are in the heartbreak zone as this has seemed to be the theme for the last few songs. (7/10)

9. Stop Talking (막말) – We fuse some colour that I guess was lacking in the previous song. Stop Talking instantly feels more appealing and as the song progressed along, the likeable aspect continued to develop. The progression to the punk rock vibe for the chorus was really cool and this was thanks to the suspense building ‘pause’ that the instrumental took prior to actually launching into the chorus. Every other element was good, minus the rap that featured in the middle of the song. Sorry Young K, but it was a miss from me. (7.5/10)

10. Not Mine – Opening the track seems to be some violins. Slightly different from the usual band instruments we hear. Though, I am not sure if this is the electronic keyboard working its magic. It does make Not Mine intriguing. The band instruments come in a little later. Together, it develops into a promising track. The vocal work was quite fitting, and the chorus was catchy. The ad-libs at the end were top-notch, especially with the instrumental segment that it was paired with. (9/10)

11. Like A Flowing Wind (마치 흘러가는 바람처럼) – The final track on the album is Like A Flowing Wind. And given the album that they just put us through, a track like this one ends the album on a very pleasant note. The instrumental never ticks over to overwhelming or overbearing, which is why pleasant was used as a descriptive term. The same could be said about the vocals, but they do take it up a notch when it came to the chorus (bless Sungjin’s raspy vocals as they work so well with the style). (9/10)

Overall Album Rating = 8.1/10

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The Book Of Us: Entropy Teaser Image

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[Album Review] 6IXENSE (1st Studio Album) – AB6IX

As this is an album review post for a studio album, it is lengthy. 

It is time for another album review. For the month of November, I will be diverting back and forth between albums from October to albums from November so that I can knock out some from the ‘Coming Soon…’ list and also cover some new ones. Today’s focus will be on AB6IX’s first studio album. Usually, group’s don’t launch right into a studio album, especially if it is their first comeback. But somehow AB6IX saw the opportunity and successfully launched the album, 6IXENSE, which features Blind For Love.

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6IXENSE Album Cover

1. Be There (기대) – I thought the verses were a good start to the album. There was a nice melodic and vocal touch really made the song appealing. The pre-chorus was also quite nice. I just thought the EDM based chorus ended up being a little too heavy for the surrounding sections. It doesn’t make the song terrible in anyway. I just thought it was a little too ill-fitting. Similarly, the deep voice that ends the first chorus song ruined the ambience that the song was set up with. But apart from that, I did like the vocals and even though the rapping was featured heavily during those EDM moments, I thought they were great as well. (7/10)

2. Blind For Love (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Blind For Love. (8/10)

3. Dandelion (민들레꽃)Dandelion was a really nice song. It takes a break from the EDM and dance nature that the group focused on for their title track and initial opener. Dandelion focuses more on the vocals, allowing a melodic touch to be brought upon the pop song. The rapping, as much as I really like Woojin and Youngmin, didn’t seem necessary in this song. But I guess since it was an OT5 song, they had to be incorporated somehow. (7.5/10)

4. Sunset – I thought Sunset was a very interesting track. The song manages to pack a punch, which is something that I have noticed to be lacking a lot in my more recent song reviews. I think the song does it really well thanks to that vocal slowdown just prior to the chorus. Woojin takes responsibility for this section and his vocals are really good (Hint – they should be used more in the future). This slowdown really made the chorus feel so much more powerful when it launched right into it. I thought the EDM touch was needed in this song, which made the song a little more powerful than if they took on board a typical dance instrumentation. (8/10)

5. _And Me – I am not particularly sure how one would pronounce the song’s title. Is it ‘underscore’ And Me? Or just And Me? Moving along, AB6IX takes an R&B approach with this track which sounds nice. I really liked the rapping in this song, which contrasts nicely with the slow pace of the song. Vocal work is pretty good as well, particularly the ad-libs you would find towards the end of the song. I just wish they added something more throughout the song to make it more memorable and not as forgettable. (7/10)

6. Pretty (이쁨이 지나치면 죄야 죄) – The album takes a turn with a colourful song. Pretty plays more towards the typical bright boy group concept, something that I felt was more MXM’s style (see Ya Ya Ya). The track has a good set of vocals and rapping, with both showing nice technique (there are a few speaking moments in this song which I thought gave it a unique touch). The piano or keyboard in the background was fun and made the song appealing. It does feel like the song conforms to the more typical boy group sound. But it is still enjoyable. (8/10)

7. ShadowShadow is probably my pick for a ‘hidden gem’ on this album. There are a few things about the song that made it stand out for me. I did like the lightness of the song and the harmonies during the chorus. Both elements we have yet to hear on the album. I liked the acoustic guitar in the instrumental. Both the vocal and rapping components were amazing and worked well with this lighter sound. It is another melodic piece that deserves attention. This time around, it stayed melodic throughout and hence why I really enjoyed it. (9/10)

8. Deep Inside – This song is another ‘hidden gem’. Usually, I don’t pick two songs on the album to be the ‘hidden gem’. But you do have to get a fair way through the album before listening to the song. Deep Inside feels very calming and that is thanks to its instrumentation. The song takes a form similar to a ballad but it has modern elements to give it a very grand feel. The vocal work is fantastic. The rapping here was extremely fitting for the soothing and flowy nature of the song as well. Come to the think of it, I think every member shined in this song. (9/10)

9. D.R.E.A.MD.R.E.A.M is performed by both rappers of the group (Youngmin and Woojin). Another fantastic song to add to the album. It seems like the good tracks are concentrated at the end of the album. Youngmin doesn’t seem to get a chance to shine in the title tracks, so it is definitely nice to hear him more clearly with well-deserved lines. Woojin sounds equally as good. My favourite bit has to be when the two raps together just before the final chorus. I also liked the autotuned chorus. Not really my favourite combination, but I didn’t mind it this time around. I also wonder who did the vocal adlibs at the end, as they sounded quite nice. (9/10)

10. Nothing Without You – This track is performed by the vocal line of the group (Daehwi, Donghyun and Woong). Nothing Without You is the actual mandatory ballad on the album. No doubt it, it shows off the vocal work that the rest of the album has yet to show off in full glory yet. From the first second, Daehwi’s vocals really jumped out at me. I did like how they added to the instrumental as the song went on. I didn’t really enjoy the parts prior to the second chorus where they seem to attempt at quick singing to give off a slight rapping impression. I just felt it made the song rather messy. But apart from that, a nice ender to the album. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

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6IXENSE Teaser Image

[Album Review] Closer (2nd Mini Album) – Oh My Girl

It is time for another PAR (Past Album Review). Today, we will be focusing on a group that is getting a lot of fanfare in the industry at the moment due to their amazing cover of Lovelyz’s Destiny on the show Queendom. Yes, that is right! I am talking about Oh My Girl. And we will be going way back a bit to October 2015 to have a look back on the album which I think contains one of the best KPOP songs ever. Scroll down below to continue reading my review. Besides that, check out Queendom and support your favourite girl groups including Mamamoo, AOA, Lovelyz, Oh My Girl, (G)I-DLE and Park Bom!

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Closer Album Cover

1. Closer (Title Track) – I previously gave this song a 9/10. But I want to add one more point to that. Mainly because Closer must be one of my favourite KPOP tracks. It is also the group’s most underrated and aesthetically pleasing tracks ever. Given their popularity now, Closer would have been a major hit if it were released today. Click here to read the full review for Closer. (10/10)

2. Say No MoreSay No More is a very smooth R&B track. The mentioned smoothness allows the song to follow strongly behind Closer. I find the track to be very catchy, especially since they accented the ‘Say No More’ using the instrumental, which they repeat throughout the song. I also think the vocal work in this track is amazing. There is a lot of technique in the song, which really shows off their potential as a group. The song is consistent, which I think was a safe move in this case. I can’t imagine a song like this being erratic in terms of it sound and it resulting as nice as what we have now. (9/10)

3. Playground – You can tell that the group was just starting out. Despite their very mature sounding Closer, the members manage to liken a love story to the playground in this track, which is a very childish and youthful thing to do. But then again, it was their image back then. I think the song is quite good as well. Maybe not as great as the two tracks before it, though. I think the vocal work was nice, especially with the harmonies and the members singing together. I really like Mimi’s rap sequences just before each chorus, as it cuts the more light-hearted pop nature from being too consistent. (8/10)

4. Sugar Baby – I am so glad that they grew out this cutesy phase. Listening to the first few lines of the song, ‘You’re My Snuggly Little Teddy Bear’ is a very cringy line. And the chorus basically follows this as well. The song has this old retro feel to it, which I think was a highlight. I also liked that small build-up we get from the pre-chorus section. Apart from that, I find the song very standard and it doesn’t really appeal to my personal tastes. If you like the cutesy direction of KPOP, I think this song would be a standout for you. (7/10)

5. Round About – I think they started out strong on this album. And I wished the album continued this strong start to the end. Round About just doesn’t recuperate from Sugar Baby and it seems to just dissipate. It is an upbeat pop track that suits their youthful image at the time, so I can’t blame them. Also, they used to the cutesy concept a fair bit back in the day, so they just had to have that influence on their album somehow (especially since this was their second album). I just found the instrumental and vocal work to be forgettable and I felt like there should have been one more song after Round About to really close the album. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

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Closer Album Teaser Image

[Album Review] An Ode (3rd Studio Album) – SEVENTEEN

SEVENTEEN returned on Monday during the week with Fear. Channelling their more mature, dark and fierce sides, Fear follows the like of HIT (which is included in this album) and Getting Closer (released at the end of last year). The group is about to embark on their first world tour and the only fitting way to do that is by releasing their third studio album, which is why we are here today. SEVENTEEN’s albums have been a hit for me, so let’s see how this one will play out.

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An Ode Album Cover

1. HIT (Pre-Release Track)Click here to read the full review for HIT. (10/10)

2. Lie Again (거짓말을 해) – Between the two amazing lead tracks of the album is Lie Again. It is a surprising addition, as it is very soft and delicate, quite the opposite to both HIT and Fear in any way. The focus on the vocals is amazing and I really enjoyed how the rappers were tweaked to fit this soft song. I thought the electronic instrumental was stunning, going with a similar aesthetic to what Home had (their title track at the start of the year). It was also very dynamic in its own way and paired well with the vocals and rapping we got in this song, it is a gem waiting to be discovered by listeners and their fans. My favourite part is the chorus, with the ‘drop’ a subtle explosion of energy. (10/10)

3. Fear (독) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Fear. (8/10)

4. Let Me Hear You Say – The album continues with another fantastic song. Let Me Hear You Say starts off like any other song. But as the song progresses, you start to hear the song develop. The chorus is completely unexpected, going with a chanting style rather than vocals which dominate the verses. I find the chorus to be like the chorus in Lie Again. There is an explosion of appeal during the chorus of this song that makes it so appealing. The chanting style was very catchy as well, which made it hard to turn away. Energy is still present in this song, but I am kind of glad it wasn’t as intense as Fear, as it would have been an overload. Let Me Hear You Say is kind of the relief that I didn’t know I needed. (9/10)

5. 247 (Performance Unit) – Now we are getting to the other important stuff. The units make their reappearance in this album through a series of tracks. The first one up is 247, sung by the main dancers of the group. It is interesting because I had expected to hear something a lot more upbeat and intense, like Highlight and Lilili Yabbay (their previous unit tracks). I didn’t expect an R&B track from them which really let their vocals shine. They all sounded amazing. But this isn’t a departure from what they do best, as 247 has a dance routine, which has a routine that is equally as beautiful. Like their routine, I find the song to be smooth, elegant and very well-polished. (9/10)

6. Second Life (Vocal Unit) – The next unit up is the vocal unit, which consists of the main and lead vocalists of the group. While I remember them for ballads, it seems like the units are changing expectations by going with different styles. There is more life in this track, in comparison to their heartfelt ballads. I attribute that to their instrumental, which I thought was very cool. It was simple but intense at the same time. It does allow for their soothing vocals to come through, so I can draw some parallels between Second Life and their past ballad unit tracks. I also find the song to be very relaxing. It is something I wouldn’t mind putting on the background and work along with it. Woozi’s randomly higher note does catch you off guard but the song (and the unit) does a good job of recomposing you and getting the track back on track. (9.5/10)

7. Network Love – We take a little breather from the units by introducing a different unit track. Network Love is sung by Joshua, Jun, The8 and Vernon. I don’t think this is an official unit from the group and is a one-off track with the four members. I find that Joshua, Jun and The8 don’t get to shine as often in the title or group tracks. So, Network Love changes that by putting all three members (and Vernon) in the spotlight. Listening to the track, I feel like this is something the Performance unit would perform to but it would have been a good sound for the vocal unit to try something a little different. Their vocals sound nice and the instrumental was bubbly and vibrant in its own way. Vernon’s rapping felt perfect for the tone of the song, not going overboard or holding back too much. The melody during the chorus was also memorable as well. (8/10)

8. Back It Up (Hip-Hop Unit) – It seems like the Hip-Hop unit didn’t get the ‘change it up’ memo that the other units got. But I don’t mind (though I would have loved to hear them try rapping to a ballad or something different to match the other units). Back It Up is intense and very powerful, something completely up the unit’s alleyway. I find each member of the unit brings a very different style to the song, which I think makes this track so much more appealing. It also doesn’t help that each member is filtered differently with the autotune, further proving my point. I really like two parts of the song. Vernon’s very soft ‘Siren’, which was whispered but due to the autotune, it came off as rough. The second has to be the drop in the second half of the chorus, which gave the song an extra infusion of energy that I didn’t know it needed (but I am glad they brought it anyway). (8/10)

9. Lucky – The whole group returns with Lucky, which is another upbeat dance track. It falls into the pop category but there was a bit of funkiness to the instrumental, which made the track enjoyable. It has a classy vibe to it and this vibe becomes more prevalent as you listen to it. I also liked the fast tempo in the verses and then the slowdown, which Jeonghan and Jun ask us to take during their respective parts. It was kind of fun to have them connect to us in this track this way. While the song is great, there was the constant thought that it did feel really neutral and knowing Seventeen, they could have upped something in the song to make it even better. (7.5/10)

10. Snap ShootSnap Shoot comes off as a fun song. It isn’t something to deny. I really like the subtle retro style we got from the track, reminding of The Jackson 5’s ABC. The instrumental also sounded like those really happy gospel-like songs we get in movies and musicals. The vocals were nice and I liked the incorporation of the hip-hop segments for the rapping. I think the song could have been more unique if the members started to sing speak to us and engage us in that manner, which would have been fun and something that feels completely like Seventeen would do. But nonetheless, the energy is infectious, and the song is catchy. This track would definitely be awesome to hear in a live performance as well. (8/10)

11. Happy Ending (Korean Version) – I have previously reviewed the Japanese version of Happy Ending. Click here to read the full review for Happy Ending. (6/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

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An Ode Teaser Image

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[Album Review] New Challenge (4th Mini Album) – Infinite

It is time for another past album review (PARs). Last two weeks, I have been focusing on groups who have disbanded. And while I could continue that, I want to also focus on the groups that are still active (or supposedly active). Infinite is one of these groups who are in a weird limbo. Some members are actively promoting, while others are in the military. More recently, L moved on from Woolim Entertainment (the company managing  Infinite), placing a question mark on top of the group’s future, despite L confirming that he is still part of the group. Nonetheless, Infinite still many albums to look at and that is what we will be doing today. The group’s fourth mini-album, New Challenge, was released in 2013 with Man In Love.

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New Challenge Album Cover

2. Man In Love (남자가 사랑할때) (Title Track) – Rereading my past review, I am very confused about what I meant myself. So, to keep it short, Man In Love has grown immensely on me. Not immediately after the initial review, but a few months (maybe years) after the release. It still is a change-up no one saw coming, given their past darker releases that came before and after Man In Love. Vocally, I think the song is fine (now) and the rapping is still a highlight for me. I thought the retro sound was appealing and the upbeat nature was a welcome change after all. These comments are drastically different from what I had originally, but if you want to see what I wrote previously (ignore the hypocrisy), click here to read the original review. (9/10)

3. As Good As It Gets (이보다 좋을 순 없다)As Good As It Gets is a decent track. It isn’t amazing. But it isn’t terrible. It is like the Goldilocks of the tracks on the album, which I think is rather fitting given the title of the song. It follows the title track in a sense that it is wholesome and lively. At the same time, however, the song doesn’t push itself to be better. It stays very consistent throughout. And in this case, it doesn’t work well with the track. The instrumental takes a rock pop approach, which I was good. It felt very typical, especially in comparison to other songs on the album. But it was a good canvas for the vocals. The singing together for the chorus was a good technique, as it added more colour to the song. The members alone sounded quite nice. The rapping was quite good as well, but it didn’t feel necessary. There are two sides to this track, which is why I label as decent. (7/10)

4. Still I Miss You (그리움이 닿는 곳에) – One thing that I am not exactly sure if you know about me. But I always love Infinite ballad, regardless of the lyrics. Their voices are very versatile and hence can fit multiple genres. And it is always nice to hear them attempt something so strong through their title tracks and then successfully nail their more fragile ballads perfectly. Unfortunately, Still I Miss You is one of those outliers that just doesn’t meet that benchmark. It is a nice ballad, but it doesn’t capture the best of the group. It felt very typical and the melody didn’t feel special. While some members shined, others didn’t really do as well in the song, which I think is another letdown. The instrumental was a lot more lively than the ballads that I listen to often from Infinite, which I guess was required to fit into the album. (7/10)

5. Beautiful – The vocals and instrumental start from the very first second, expressing how their partner leaves them in awe with their beauty. Given their previous tracks, this one follows the title track in being of the unexpected nature. But I guess some brightness doesn’t hurt from time to time. Harmonies are given to us at the start of the chorus and I thought the song zoned into the vocals quite well. Instrumentally, I thought it was a little standard. It felt more like a b-side track than anything else, honestly speaking. So, it wasn’t necessary memorable back then or now. But still, another decent track. (7/10)

6. 60 Seconds (60초) (Infinite Version)60 Seconds was previously the title track from Kim Sung Kyu’s first solo album. A song that I do come back to every so often because it is so damn good. So, to hear that the group would be releasing a version themselves was a pretty big deal back then. And it was a version that I enjoyed. The harmonies and the vocals of the individual members were shown off. Hoya and Dongwoo also introduced a rap sequence into the song to give it some additional depth of appeal. The instrumental remained the same between the two versions, keeping it consistently good throughout. (9/10)

7. Inconvenient Truth (불편한 진실) – Opening this track up is a female’s laughter and a very vibrant set of horns. It brings forward a very retro sound, which is Infinite’s forte for this album. The song shows the members in an unimpressed state because of their lover, with the laughter at the start present to tease the members. Despite, the song is very lively and energetic. I thought the chorus was nice, with all the members singing together. It did feel a little childish at times, from my perspective, which is something I am a little disappointed in. I also wanted more to the song, given how it was very consistent throughout. The fading out ending didn’t really wrap things up in a manner that I would have liked it. All of this felt made it feel like there should have been one more song coming right after, so it leaves a gap at the end of the album. (6.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.6/10

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New Challenge Teaser Image

[Album Review] A Delicate Sense (2nd Mini Album) – FIESTAR

The FT Island and BOL4 review that should have been published yesterday and today (respectively) will be published some other time this week. 

It is time for another album review and this time, we will be looking into the past (as per the schedule for Tuesdays). Last week, we looked at HISTORY’s mini-album, HIM, their last release in their careers. Today, we turn to FIESTAR, who was also under the same company as HISTORY. While A Delicate Sense (their second mini-album) was not their last music release in their time as a group, it was their final album release. Released on March 2016, the mini-album features the title track Mirror.  I have also previously reviewed their first mini-album, Black Label, which you can read here by clicking the link.

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A Delicate Sense Album Cover

1. A Sip of Lips (입술 한 모금) – Kicking off their final mini-album is A Sip of Lips. I know I might be getting ahead of myself (and this review) here by making this initial comment but in my head, it makes sense to start off by saying this. When you look over the entire album, A Sip of Lips is a great opener to the album. It eases you into the sensual nature of Mirror that follows without going with a sound that isn’t too heavy or loaded. But it is a different story for the song itself (if I were to consider it standalone), it isn’t the most exciting song on the album (nor ever). It is a little typical. I thought the chorus/melody was rather annoying and I can imagine this annoyance accumulating as I listen to more of it. (6/10)

2. Mirror (Title Track) – Upon rereading my review, the rating there is as per the old system (i..e just the one number and not a breakdown). My comments still stand but to better reflect the ‘song’ section of the review, I have decided to change the rating for this album review. Click here to read my review for Mirror. (9/10)

3. Mr. Black – The group continues their sensual vibe with Mr. Black. It fairs better than the first song on the album as it is easier on the ears and less annoying in many senses. I like how husky their voices get in the song, which adds to the sensual vibes of the song. The instrumental keeps the song from feeling slow, which could have been a problem. But the best part must be Yezi’s rap sequence. Instead of something powerful, she opts for whispering, which I think makes her part so much more impactful. I think both routes would have been fine. Overall, a cool track. (9/10)

4. Thirst (갈증) – Once again, the sensual theme continues through Thirst. It is more of an R&B track, losing the dance element that could have come with Mr. Black. Not that this is any problem, because I think this stage would have been fine without one. Listening to the track for the first time, I thought T-Ara (oh, I miss them as well) was singing the song. The vocals were quite similar, and I had to check several times whether I had the right song and artist playing to write this review. Interestingly, I didn’t like Yezi’s rapping in this song. I know she could only fit in with a softer approach, but it felt a little awkward and not fitting as her whispering did in the previous song. (7/10)

5. Come And Go (왔다갔다)Come And Go ends the album with another, you guessed it, sensual vibe song. This one, however, wasn’t as strong as the rest of the album. I think the upbeat side was a tad overpowering and steals the show from the sensual atmosphere. That being said, the combination of their voices, saxophone and seductive melody worked well together. My favourite part has to be the layering of rap and vocals that wrap the song at the end. It drew moments of the song together in a successful and elegant manner that made me enjoy the song. I did have concerns about its plainness for a while, but I think those thoughts are long gone. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

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[Album Review] 2/4 (2nd Single Album) – ONEWE

It is time for the Sunday album review. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had endeavoured to get this up by midnight (my time). And since it was a single album, it made things a lot more achievable. ONEWE returned the previous week with Regulus and their second single album, 2/4. And as expected, we can expect the third and fourth quarters in the future. In the meantime, let’s have a closer inspection of the tracks on tier second single album.

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2/4 Album Cover

1. Love Me (내가 처음 만져본 강아지) – The very first thing that popped into my mind when I first listened to the song was that the very first second reminded me of AKMU. And if some past experience is something to go by, it means Love Me will be a pretty nice track. The track has a decent level of brightness that offsets the moodiness and darkness the group opted for their title track. It is also a new side to the band, which I think they should do for a title track. The vocals were fantastic, and I thought the instrumental was fantastically done (that guitar solo section for the bridge is perfect). It is a niche that should be done more in KPOP, as I feel the song manages to form a connection in a unique manner. Upon further research, the song is about a dog. And as a person who enjoys the company of dogs, I think the song is perfect for me. (10/10)

2. Regulus (‘야행성) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Regulus. (8/10)

3. Feeling Good (2019 Version) – Before ONEWE was ONEWE, the band was known as MAS and they released the single Feeling Good back in 2016. It is nice to know that the band is still with their roots and this shows in the 2019 version of Feeling Good. The original version is something I would describe as jazzy. It is also notable bright and totally something I did not expect from the group. The 2019 version loses that jazzy feel, opting for a solid band feel. The chorus feels amped up, which is a good thing. It does maintain that brightness. Despite the changes, both tracks remain pleasant throughout. The vocal work and rapping were also commendable. The bridge does change up the song in an odd manner and I am not too sure what to think of that part as of yet. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

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2/4 Teaser Image

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[Album Review] Emergency: Quantum Leap (1st Mini Album) – X1

So, I have been a bit busy with my week off. A lot do to for my studies, so it wasn’t really a week off. And that means I didn’t get around to posting my album review yesterday. Well, don’t fret as I will be posting it today! I have decided to push the Japanese reviews to next week onwards because of this. Today we will be leaping into X1’s first mini-album, Emergency: Quantum Leap. It seems like both the album and their title track (Flash) is a major hit with fans and listeners alike, as the group have been topping album charts and weekly music shows consistently this week! Congratulations to the group! But let’s see if the album is worth the attention.

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Emergency: Quantum Leap Album Cover

1. Stand Up (Intro Track) – This introductory track opens with a bit of piano, making you think they are going with a soft approach to ease us in. But in a matter of seconds, the group changes into a harsh rock-like track. It is a great opener, full of energy to drive interest towards this new (and expectedly popular) group. We got solid vocals and rapping from the members, which I think did enough to showcase themselves. It is catchy and there was a fun vibe to it. I would have liked to hear this song extended into a full track. With a few changeups, I think this would have been a fabulous contender for the title track position. (9/10)

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

3. Like Always (웃을 때 제일 예뻐)Like Always opens with someone typing. It might be random but given the song’s lyrics, it might be alluding to typing out a confession letter/email to their lover. It was also a nice lead in to the rest of the song, as the song opted for colourful and lively percussion synths. The verses were positioned in the pop genre and I thought showcased an impressive set of the vocals from the members. The chorus takes a turn to the industry trends, opting for a synth-heavy electronic dance-based instrumental. It was robust and was a nice changeup in my opinion. Some might think the two styles clash but I thought it was fine. The rapping was pretty good, but I have to admit it wasn’t nearly as exciting as the rest of the song. (8.5/10)

4. I’m Here For You (괜찮아요) – It is expected that there is a ballad on the album. I think all the Produce 101 resultant group’s first albums contained a ballad that says thanks to their fans. It is also a very different sound to the group, given that all the songs were more dance tracks on the album. I am sure fans of the group (and of the survival show’s latest season) would find the song touching. For the song, I thought the vocals sounded nice throughout the track. The ballad melody was fluid and well-paced. I thought the rapping was a nice touch. Not many individuals can tweak their rapping abilities to fit ballads, but X1’s rappers do a splendid job here. Instrumentally, the track was a little dry. But still, a nice track for fans. (8/10)

5. U GOT IT (X1 Version)U GOT IT was first released during Produce X 101. I have previously reviewed it and you can find the review for it by clicking on this link. As it forms part of this album review, I will give it a rating based on X1’s version. (8/10)

6. Move (움직여) (X1 Version)Move was first released during Produce X 101. I have previously reviewed it and you can find the review for it by clicking on this link. As it forms part of this album review, I will give it a rating based on X1’s version. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

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Emergency: Quantum Leap Teaser Image

[Album Review] HIM (5th Mini Album) – HISTORY

Today, we return to the PARs (Past Album Reviews), where I look closely at an album from the previous years. This way, I am able to revisit artists who have disbanded or inactive, rediscover old songs and introduce to you (and myself) the unsung b-side tracks on different albums. Today, the focus will be on HISTORY, who officially disbanded in 2016. HIM was their final release ever and this occurred in 2017. It is a pity to see HISTORY disband, especially since I was a fan of many of their title tracks. So it will be interesting to see what their B-sides tracks are like.

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HIM Album Cover

1..Wild BoyWild Boy starts this mini-album on a very strong front. Wild Boy is a dance track that consists of a heavy and intense EDM instrumental. It adds to History’s style, with the next release always building on top of the previous. It is a pity that they are no longer around to continue with this vibe. The singing was quite good. But there is no doubt that the rapping was the real winner in this song. The rapping added more intensity and roughness to the song. And I like it how they didn’t hold back. All these elements together tapped into the group’s wild side, which fits the song’s direction perfectly. (9/10)

2. Queen (Title Track) – I decided to bump the original rating from 7.5 (the combination of song, video and performance) to 9 (just the song). The song has remained a favourite in my books since its release, so many of my comments in the review still stand to this day. Click here to read the full review for Queen. (9/10)

3. Baby, Hello – Diverting from the intensity that we have felt so far is Baby, Hello. It goes for an R&B style, instead. It is typical in some senses. But it is a nice break from that intense sound that I just mentioned. And while the previous two songs allowed the rappers to come to the forefront, a song of this style allows the focus to shift towards the vocals. The members sound smooth, with the rappers still doing a really good job. What makes this song kind of unique is that it extends itself using an additional dance break. Around the 2:30 mark, we get a bit of electric guitars to ‘finish’ the R&B style. But we are given an additional jazzy outro, which paired really well with the rest of the song. (8/10)

4. Whenever (그럴 때면) (Dokhyun Solo) – Continuing on with this ‘break’ from intensity is Dokhyun’s solo song. If I remember correctly, he was the member that was often hidden away. Their debut with Dreamer put Dokhyun into the limelight as a strong vocalist. But from every release from then on, I didn’t get to recognise or see him as much, which is a little disappointing. Whenever proves that he does have a really good set of vocals. I wished that History’s title track gave him a little more opportunity to flourish. It does feel like he strains his vocals towards the end. But apart from that, this R&B number was well polished and was very light in tone, suiting this ‘break’ nicely. (7.5/10)

5. LOST – I was under the impression that I had written a review for LOST, as it was a track that they promoted within Japan. It is also a return to intensity, as the song launches into a grand start through the classical instrumented driven start and probably one of the most intense EDM launches that I have ever heard. The song stabilises out once the vocals are brought into play. But not for long, as the EDM instrumental and classical lineup joins forces for the most drown-able chorus ever. I couldn’t even hear any of the vocal work during the chorus as the instrumental was too much. Apart from that, the verses were fine. Just the chorus was the biggest letdown. (6/10)

6. LiarLiar is significant as this is the final song we ever heard from the male group. After the release of this album, the group went away and was never heard of again (until the news of their disbandment). I find this to be a nice mix between the R&B side of the group and the dance side of the track. It isn’t too much of a slow song, nor is it overly intense. Some might think this is rather typical of a KPOP track. But with History’s style, this pop style track was something different for the group (as far as I was concerned). I like how the rapping gave some roughness to the song, while the vocals evenly smooth out the song. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

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HIM Teaser Image

[Album Review] The ReVe Festival: Day 2 (7th Mini Album) – Red Velvet

I hope to be back on the normal schedule last week. But due to my studies, that was put on hold for a bit. So I am now hoping that I am able to return to that normal schedule this weekend, with this album review kicking it off. Red Velvet made their comeback 10 days ago with Umpah Umpah and their second album release in The ReVe Festival series. Per usual with any Red Velvet release, they have managed to come on top on this week’s music shows so far. But it is now time to see how the album faired.

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The ReVe Festival: Day 2 Album Cover

1..Umpah Umpah (음파음파) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Umpah Umpah. (9.5/10)

2. Carpool (카풀) – While I was briefly listening through the album to see whether it was worth writing an album review for it, I was drawn to Carpool. It was bright and upbeat, two of the things I totally like when it comes to KPOP tracks. Sprinkle in with some funk, give the track to Red Velvet and let them own it. I really enjoyed the vocals in this song, as it was rather clear and the instrumental (to a degree) took a backseat approach, allowing the vocals to be capitalised. I also enjoyed the melodies throughout the song, making this a standout track, in my opinion. My pick for the highlight has to be the part of the chorus where they sing together. (9/10)

3. Love Is The Way (사랑은 길이다)Love Is The Way slows down considerably but continues the bright tone that we have heard so far on the album. This time around the track opts for a retro style, which reminds me of a lot of SNSD’s Lion Heart. To be honest, some of the Red Velvet members reminded me of some of the SNSD members throughout the track. I really like the ‘Your lips say no, but your heart says yes’ line that is featured before each chorus. I think the biggest flaw of the track is that its slowness was very evident, particularly since it was following Carpool, which was a lot faster and snappier. It did cause the retro track to come off as sluggish and dry. (7.5/10)

4. Jumpin’ – We return to something a little more upbeat. Given how its tempo seems to be in between Carpool and Love Is The Way, I think this would have been a suitable song to have in between the two so that the latter song did not come off as sluggish. Despite that observation, however, with a song titled as Jumpin’, I would have expected a little more energy to come from the track. It wasn’t sluggish. But it wasn’t eventful, I could say. Their vocals were quite strong in this track, which I guess helped offset. But it felt more abstract with this approach. I would also say this track is moderately catchy and I wouldn’t mind listening to the song occasionally. (7/10)

5. Ladies Night – It is a night that I am not invited to. But Ladies Night seems to bring out the good side of Red Velvet. I really like their slight retro approach with this R&B track. It seems to match the rest of the album nicely. The brass gives it a lot of colour and character, making the instrumental stand out. I also thought their vocals, which was a lot softer than the previous tracks, were well presented. And I liked how their vocals and instrumental blended together nicely. (8/10)

6. Eyes Locked, Hands Locked (눈 맞추고, 손 맞대고) – When I was checking out the album, the final track caught my attention. Its title is rather intriguing. And I didn’t know what to really expect with a song titled Eyed Locked, Hands Locked. It ended up being a ‘love at first sight’ ballad with delicate vocals, fitting for the softer instrumentation that the ballad had opted for. Throughout this album and within this track, all the members have been singing together for the chorus, which I think works very well with Red Velvet. Other groups do this, but they tend to inefficiently or overuse this technique. It does feel a rather typical way to end the album, but I can’t deny that it is a good track to end the album on. (8/10

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

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The ReVe Festival: Day 2 Teaser Image

[Album Review] The Night In The Park (Part 3) (3rd Mini Album) – GWSN

Apologies everyone for the delay for this album review. It was meant to be published last Sunday. But I had pushed that because I was busy. And I was very occupied over the weekend. And now, I am here to publish this review (before I hold onto it for another week)! GWSN debuted last year with a really cool title track (Puzzle Moon). I do remember that I was intrigued so much by it, so I checked out their debut mini-album. But I wasn’t satisfied with it to write an album review. Their comeback at the start of the year also shared the same fate. But third time is the charm, as today we review their 3rd mini-album, the 3rd (and final) part of their The Night In The Park trilogy.

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The Night In The Park (Part 3) Album Cover

1. Red Sun (021) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Red Sun (021). (9/10)

2. All Mine (Coast of Azure) – GWSN has always stood out for their different style title tracks. So, to hear something a little more typical from the group felt nice, which is rather odd, considering my past comments on every other ‘typical’ sounding track. All Mine is a Summer track that is bright and makes you think of the beach and sun thanks to its upbeat energy. I thought the track was quite nice and thoroughly enjoyed it. There was a slight quirk in the song, with the pre-chorus sounding like a music box with a downward gradient. That stood out for me, alongside the colourful vocals and rapping. (8/10)

3. Night Aviation (밤의 비행) (The Interpretation of Dreams) – The group now takes a new direction with Night Aviation. It is a dance R&B track that also a very smooth feel to it. It is very mature, which I think is that ‘new direction’ that I mentioned. The instrumental is standard, with no impressive moments that stick out. But it is their vocals and rapping that really give this song some character. It might also be the fact that I am impressed with their performances and a song like this seems will be portrayed exceptionally well on stage by such a strong dance group. I think the only thing that I would consider a flaw in this song is that standard instrumental, but as mentioned, other elements (and expectations) make up for this. (8.5/10)

4. Total Eclipse (Black Out)Total Eclipse returns the group to their aesthetics and dance style that their title tracks always go for. However, this track seems to be a little more ‘out-there’ and wacky, so I think it was well-played by the producers to keep this as a side-track instead. Nonetheless, I think this was very interesting and I did enjoy it. The chorus was very cool, especially with the start. The crunchy ‘Black Out’ effect was a strong highlight for me. I liked how it also contrasted with the rest of the song, as the other parts felt like a ‘normal’ track. And thanks to that highlight, there was a fun vibe to the song. (8/10)

5. Birthday Girl ~ 19 Candles – Through Birthday Girl, we get to see a different side of the group. If you are more familiar with their title tracks, you might not expect this direction. It is a more delicate style, which calls for a soft vocal approach. And the group nails this. I think this was a very nice track that brings their vocals, rather than their performances and catchy hooks, to the forefront. In a sense, the track acts as a magnifying glass, as it allowed us to hear the husky tones some of the members brought to the song. The harmonies heard in the chorus was very beautiful. (9/10)

6. Kind Of CoolKind Of Cool isn’t exactly the most appealing track. It is a little bland upon first glance at its tropical-like instrumentation and is kind of neutral throughout. Their vocals and rapping aren’t also their most impressive work. But despite the negativity, I must emphasise that this track isn’t terrible. It is still quite listenable. It just doesn’t ping as something to ‘put on repeat’. It is also on the weaker side of the spectrum compared to their other songs on the album. Despite that, I did like the chorus as it was somewhat catchy and I thought the flutes were a nice instrumental detail in the song. (6.5/10)

7. Black H●le – If you were to compare Kind Of Cool and Black Hole (I won’t be inserting the darkened circle while referring to the song within the review), you might think I would be repeating my comments. But I am not going to. I find Black Hole to be very appealing, mainly because we get to hear more of that delicate style from the group. Once again, it is different, and I am not really ready to hear them return to their usual sound just yet. I really like the flowy nature of this track and the acapella in the background. The rapping was also well blended into the track, which I think is always a tricky aspect to tackle in these types of tracks. (8/10)

8. Recipe ~ for Simon – Ending the album is once again, another delicate track. I cannot get enough of these tracks!! I find the harmonies in this track to be superb. I am not as impressed with the incorporation of the rapping as I was with the preceding song. It is good but not as great as Black Hole. The chorus has that flowy nature and I find them all singing to together to be a real standout element in this track. It feels wholesome, cohesive and brings the album to a close on a slower but nice note. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

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The Night In The Park (Part 3) Teaser Image

[Album Review] WOLF (1st Mini Album) – Woosung (The Rose)

As mentioned during the week, I announced that I would be reviewing Woosung’s debut mini-album. And that is where we find ourselves today. Woosung is the main vocalist of The Rose and made his solo debut with FACE on the 25th of July. FACE is the title track featured on his first mini-album, titled as WOLF. During the week, The Rose also made their comeback with RED. If you want another song that shows off Woosung’s voice, as I will reiterate throughout this album review, then I highly recommend the band’s newest track! While you are there, check out the rest of the band and their other tracks (which I have linked in that review as well).

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WOLF Album Cover

1. Wolf – One thing that I really want to hear when it comes to new releases is something that really amazes me in some way. The fact is that I am amazed about a lot of things, so it doesn’t have to be a major detail or aspect of the track. Well, Woosung kicks off the album with a track that pretty much satisfied the above. It is a pity that the song is only an introductory track as there is such a strong aesthetic vibe to it that would have been epic as part of a full track. On the other hand, the track would have been repetitive. I like how the verses and choruses contrast, bringing together acoustic and electronic instrumentation. The combination works well. The chorus was full of that aesthetic, while the verses felt paced, like how you expect a pack of wolves to circle around you. The best part would have to be when Woosung utters the song’s title, Wolf. It is creepy and goes well with the modern twist of the chorus. (9/10)

2. Moon – There is no doubt that Woosung’s vocals are on full display on this album. Moon manages to take this up a notch for me. There is something about his vocals that are so alluring. It might be as simple as the melody being able to highlight the strengths of his vocals. Or it could be the raspy nature that gives the song texture. And texture was needed. It started off as a minimalistic instrumental and it built up from there. But it was relatively plain and without the texture, the track would not have been as good. I also like how he doesn’t hold back lyric-wise for this track. While it isn’t as explicit as some other tracks, the ‘Bitch’ is rather striking, and you can tell by his tone that he is disapproving of his former lover. Overall, Moon was a pretty cool track. (9/10)

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

4. Lonely – The final song on this mini-album is Lonely. It takes more of that typical approach for main vocalists, as the track is a ballad. But I am not complaining. We get to hear various styles of Woosung’s vocals throughout the album. And I did not know that I needed to hear a heartbreaking side of the artist. I really like the song’s melody. I also like how the instrumental didn’t really develop into something more. It is an odd predicament. But think about it, not building up almost felt like the song was trying to portray a sense of hopelessness, which was the direction in which his vocals and lyrics were trying to showcase. It makes perfect sense and pulled off well. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

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WOLF Teaser Image

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[Album Review] Hello Chapter 1: Hello, Stanger (1st Mini Album) – CIX

It is always exciting to write album reviews for groups that had just debut. As there is a very high chance that I will be following their careers through albums reviews for as long as they are around. CIX debuted two weeks ago with Hello Chapter 1: Hello, Stranger. They have also won a music show award with their new track, Movie Star. This made them the fastest male group to win a music show award after debuting (i.e. 7 days). Let’s see the album that helped contribute to this win!

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Hello Chapter 1: Hello Stranger Album Cover

1..What You Wanted – Kicking off their debut mini-album is What You Wanted. The song has a very nice sleek feel. The instrumental is very standard and feels very weighted. But this is a good thing as it gives rise of their ‘downward melody’ that they feature in the chorus. And this downward melody was very catchy, meaning the album opened with a memorable tone. Likewise, the vocals were quite good. The rapping was a little hit and miss for me. I thought the first half of the rapping was good. But things got messy during the second half of the chorus. (8/10)

2. Movie Star (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Movie Star. (9.5/10)

3. Like It That Way – We move to something a little brighter through Like It That Way. The instrumental primarily features a reggae beat. There is a little more percussion to it as the song progresses. But overall, I would consider the track to be light in terms of its tone. Other than that, I thought the singing was okay. It doesn’t really showcase anything new, which is my overall impression of the song as well. The rapping manages to give it a little more definition. But it really isn’t enough to really make it memorable. It is more of a skippable song if I was to describe it in some way. (6.5/10)

4. Imagine – And now we move onto a track with a more upbeat nature, in conjunction with the song’s previous brighter tone. With the way the song directs itself to the pop genre, I already find it more captivating than the preceding track. There are a little disco and groovy influence on the song instrumental, which really helps make the song slightly more memorable. Unfortunately, I did think the member’s vocals were a little weak. I think if they managed to boost their vocals with some sort of definition aid, I think they would have stood out more. With that said, I find the rapping and Jinyoung’s whispering in the bridge to be my picks for more captivating moments of the song. (7.5/10)

5. The One – To me, The One finds itself within a very typical territory. It does have a feel of a ballad, as it does lack loudness and energy. But the instrumental was more dance centred, with synths present and an R&B tone to really bring everything together nicely. I find their execution of the different elements to be very interesting. I have been unimpressed with the vocal work for the last two tracks on the album. But I found the vocal work to be very nice here. Sure, there aren’t new techniques being shown off. But it sounds really well balanced over the synth R&B instrumental. The rapping had some oophm to it, which I thought was very cool as well. It ended the album in a wholesome way, based on its message as well. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

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Hello Chapter 1: Hello, Stranger Teaser Image

[Album Review] Lion Heart (5th Studio Album) – SNSD

SNSD is one of the groups that have members under different companies. Based on history, groups like these don’t come back at all as schedules just do not align. However, it seems like SNSD could potentially be one of the first to return. There are ongoing rumours of a 2019 comeback and it seems like the 8 members are actively speaking to one another despite their different schedules. Fingers Crossed!!! Let’s hope for a comeback from this legendary group! In the meantime, I decided to review their Lion Heart album, which was released in 2015. This was also the first album after Jessica departed from the group.

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Lion Heart Album Cover

1..Lion Heart (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Lion Heart. (6.5/10)

2. You Think (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for You Think. (8/10)

3. Party (Pre-Release Single) – The track ended up being one of my most favourite tracks of the album. To the point where it surpassed their other title tracks. Whenever it is Summer where I am, I end up playing this track because it puts you into a good mood. So I decided to bump up my rating from a 4/10 (shocking much) to a 9/10. (And yes, I identified the wrong title track for the album in the Party review). Click here to read the original review for Party. (9/10)

4. One Afternoon (어떤 오후) – There is a sense of elegance to One Afternoon, which is different from the three preceding tracks before it. The track features soft jazz instrumental that I find to be quite likeable. Usually, I am not a fan of a song like this. But this one surprised me as being quite pleasant and enjoyable. The vocal work was also quite pleasant, with the member using a lighter tone to compliment the soft nature of the track. Visually, I think the song would pair well with the 1920s style outfit they wore for Lion Heart. (8/10)

5. Show GirlsShow Girls was previously released as a Japanese song. But since the album goes for an old fashion retro theme, the track is very suitable for the album. The verses take a sensual 1920s approach, which I think was very interesting. But what I love the best is the blast of energy we get from the catchy and energetic chorus. The contrast ended up being bold and I think that is a defining characteristic of the track. So bold that when you think about it, the two shouldn’t really go together. But somehow SNSD managed to pull it off well. (9/10)

6. Fire Alarm – We now get something a little more modern, joining the ranks of You Think and Party. Fire Alarm is a pop dance track that brings out the vocal dynamics of the group. The vocals during the chorus were loud to avoid being covered up by the instrumental. The vocals on the album thus far have been on the softer side, so it is nice to hear something a little more hard-hitting. And in combination with the instrumental, Fire Alarm becomes punchy, making this a standout for me. (8/10)

7. Talk TalkTalk Talk is a standard pop track. There isn’t anything that great about the song that blew me away or got me interested in the track. There were a few minor things but they don’t really change my initial feelings regarding the song. There are some Western pop vibes in the track which I managed to catch. It does give a tinge of nostalgia, which was nice. The vocals were also pretty good, especially with the ad-libs at the end. But as I said, these weren’t enough to keep me from skipping to the next track. (7/10)

8. Green LightGreen Light, at first sounded like another pop track. But I found the melody of the chorus to be very appealing. It is a very fluffy type of song, which isn’t my style at all. But I guess we all have our guilty pleasures occasionally. I also liked the epic style of the countdown that launched us into the chorus. It is a different pairing than usual but it sounded good. I also enjoyed the rapping, giving the song some texture and preventing it from becoming too repetitive as a result. (8/10)

9. ParadiseParadise is actually an impressive track. I did not expect something to be so catchy out of this one, given how it started with the ‘P P P Paradise’. I thought it was childish and potentially annoying. But rather, it grew on me and I quite enjoy it (to the point where I sing along). It is another pop track, so the instrumental doesn’t really make it memorable. But the vocals were fantastic in the track. The melody was very pretty and allowed for the vocals to shine in this bright song. (9/10)

10. Check – If you read through my Party review (link above), I mistakenly identified that this was the title track for the album at the time of writing the Party review. I think I got some information from a forum. Based on this, I don’t think I will ever use a forum as a ‘source of information’ for several reasons. The first, the group and company opted for a different title track. Secondly, Check is a very sluggish song that would not have gotten much fanfare if it was selected for continuous promotion for 3 or 4 weeks. The vocals weren’t great, and I pretty much remember skipping over the track when I saw the side promotion of it during the first week of the comeback. (4/10)

11. Sign – Positioned after the disappointing Check, Sign comes off as cool and dynamic. There is an edgy sound to the track thanks to the electric and synth-based instrumental and I think this track directly compliments the likes of You Think. I particularly liked the vocals in the song. While the instrumental seemed to go for a mid-tempo speed, the vocals were dragged out. I liked the contrast and thought it created a very alluring atmosphere. The song doesn’t have a catchy element too, but I think the vocal and instrumental combination makes it memorable. (9/10)

12. Bump ItBump It starts off as a ballad. And then it takes a 180° turn to become a hip-hop/R&B dance track. Come to the think of it, Bump It doesn’t sound like a ballad whatsoever, so I guess the change is definitely a step in the right direction. And reading the lyrics, I feel like that ballad extension at the start could have been left out entirely as it didn’t contribute much to the track (both musically and lyrically). For the upbeat parts, I thought there was nice edgy energy running through it and I felt this was very memorable. I like the rap-like pre-chorus launch and the melody was quite catchy. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

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Lion Heart Individual Teaser Images