[Album Review] Heng:garæ (7th Mini Album) – SEVENTEEN

SEVENTEEN achieved the title of ‘million seller’ with the release of their seventh mini-album, Heng:garæ, which features the title track, Left & Right. Congratulations to the group! For those who may not know what ‘million seller’ refers to, it is the title given to a group who sells over a million copies of their album within the first week of its release. The only other group to achieve this feat is BTS, who has done so with three of their most recent album releases including Map of the Soul: 7 which was released earlier this year (which makes SEVENTEEN the second group to achieve this feat this year!). It is definitely exciting for the group and for the fans who support SEVENTEEN! And this makes diving into this album more thrilling, so let’s get listening!

Heng:garæ Album Cover

1. Fearless – Kicking off the album is Fearless and it makes sure the album starts off with a strong one. Fearless is quite heavy, unlike other songs that start off an album in a lighter manner. But a strong song can result in a bold entrance, which is the case we have here. When I listened Fearless for the first time, the song felt like it was swinging at you, as if the members were fearless of whatever was holding them back. It had nice momentum, vocals and raps. It also felt very clean and organized, which was quite appealing to me. There was potential for it to be a title track. Fearless also incorporated some of Fear (their previous title track) melodies during the bridge, but they change the lyrics to show the difference between the Fear and the Fearless. It caught me off guard at first. And now I consider it to be the killing part of the song. (9/10)

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

3. I Wish (좋겠다)I Wish reminds me of those KPOP ballads we used to get on albums in the past. It was all about a one-sided crush, how they yearn to confess to their crush and how lonely they feel as the days past. Pretty much a cliché topic to sing about. Aside from the sprinkling of nostalgia that I Wish does give off, I don’t find the pop ballad to be that special and I haven’t fallen for it. I find everything (melodies, vocals, raps) in the song to be good, but that is the extent that I would give it. There were two parts that did perk my interest, but it didn’t do enough. First was the layering of Wonwoo’s rapping and everyone singing and second is the synthesizer (I think it was synthesizer) used in the instrumental break towards the end of the song. (7/10)

4. My MyClick here to read the full review for My My. (8/10)

5. Kidult (어른 아이)Kidult has more of a kick to it, thanks to the use of the band instrumentation, which gives off pop-rock ballad vibe. It feels and sounds a lot more captivating than I Wish. It is a lot more suitable and refreshing for the Summer season. The song is all about being a kid and adult, or at times, a mixture of both (hence the title). And it seems like their lover has the same issue and the members are telling them to embrace it. Their vocals were very fitting for this style and that is definitely apparent throughout the song. DK’s ad-libs and high pitch vocals were on point. The rap-singing was a good choice, giving the rappers a chance to fit into the song. The melodies were great, and I had the swaying effect come to me while listening to the song (which is a positive determinator in my level of enjoyment of the song). (9/10)

6. Together (같이가요)Together is all about being together no matter what. And like how it feels like a more upbeat version of Kidult and has an OST type of vibe to it. I like the classical instrumentation that is mixed into the upbeat band instrumentation. This entire track is very foot-tapping worthy (another positive determinator in my level of enjoyment). I find their vocal work in this song to be the best on this album (DK is definitely shaping to be my new favourite main vocalist), with my favourite parts was when all the members would sing together at the end of the chorus. I liked the inclusive atmosphere that comes about in those sections and from this song, overall. The inspirational feel was also a plus, thanks to the members’ delivery of the lyrics. What a positive way to end the song. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

Heng:garae Teaser Image
Heng:garæ Teaser Image
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[Album Review] GO生 (Go Live) (1st Studio Album) – Stray Kids

Stray Kids made their comeback a few weeks back with their very first studio album, GO生 (or Go Live). The main title track was God’s Menu, which has proven to be a great song in my books. It has gone on to top the Weekly KPOP Charts thanks to its powerful energy, catchy hooks and dynamism. So it was natural for me to investigate the album which it is featured on. Alongside God’s Menu, you will find familiar tracks such as Top and Slump (which were both previously released Japanese tracks), along with Gone Days and On Track (which were earlier mixtape releases that were released after their Levanter promotions). Links to the reviews for these tracks, along with my thoughts on the other sidetracks can be found below.

Image of Go Live Album Cover
Go Live Album Cover

1. Go Live (GO生) – Stray Kids is known for their powerful tracks, as their entire career so far has been predominately made up of powerful sounds. Go Live, as an introductory track, aligns the album with that association and really kicks off the album in a very suspenseful fashion. A lot of hip-hop influences in this short track. It kicks off with strong rapping from the rappers and the vocalists come in with their vocals autotuned to fit the atmosphere. I.N’s deep voice is probably the most shocking of all (did not know we had another Felix in the group) and Lee Know’s ‘I Know, You Know, We Know, Lee Know’ line has to be the most memorable of all. (7/10)

2. God’s Menu (神메뉴) Click here to read the full review of God’s Menu. (9/10)

3. EasyEasy, without doubt, continue the momentum that God’s Menu ends off with. The rapping in this song is also rapid and powerful. The vocals are autotuned. I am a little torn about this, as I am not a fan of overly autotuned vocals usually. However, as mentioned in the introductory track’s paragraph, this was the obvious direction for the vocals to fit the powerful and fast tempo nature of the song. Regarding the instrumental, it feels fairly plain in comparison to the title track, though I did like the start which added dramatic suspense to the song. I also enjoyed the dance break, which added some energy to the song. The one thing that weighs down the song is the lack of dynamic hooks, which is why I give it a slightly lower rating to their title track. (8/10)

4. Pacemaker – The fast pace instrumental of Pacemaker blasts you at the very start of the song before the members assault you (in a good sense) with their rapping and vocals. It might be overwhelming for some, but that is one of the aspects of the song that I thoroughly enjoyed. The instrumental itself takes a half step back for some of the verses, before returning to that blast of energy for the chorus. I liked how the lyrics liken their lover to a pacemaker by saying things like ‘your end is my end’. It is a captivating track full of energy and one that I recommend if you don’t mind the members and music coming at you. (9/10)

5. Airplane (비행기) – We take a step back from the intensity for something with a pop sound. There does seem to be some hip-hop influences mixed into the song, but I would categorize it more as a pop track by the song stops playing. Airplane is fun-sounding but it is nothing more than a pleasant track. There is an enjoyable level of brightness and energy in this song. And even though it may not conform to Stray Kid’s powerful sound, Airplane has a decent beat and the vocal melodies shine. I am kind of glad that the vocalists (namely Seungmin and I.N) get an opportunity to shine somewhere on this album. Their voices may have had to compete with instrumental, though they did well with what they had to work with. (8/10)

6. Another Day (일상)Another Day is another chance for the Stray Kid’s vocalists to shine. Wait, let me backtrack that statement. All members actually shine throughout this song. Joining Seungmin and I.N as vocalists in this song is Lee Know, Bang Chan and Han. And if this song needs to prove anything, those members can definitely sing. Felix, Changbin and Hyunjin took on their usual roles as rappers. Even though their parts were very constricted, their deep and raspy rap-singing lines were very pleasant and extremely fitting alongside the vocals. This is all over an instrumental predominately consisting of a mellow sounding acoustic guitar. Fitting the atmosphere of the song are the members reflecting on ‘Another Day’ in the lyrics. (8/10)

7. Phobia – Overtaking the other songs that have been branded with a 9/10 rating, in terms of quality, is Phobia. I really like how this track sound. This is a synth pop-dance track. I really like soothing the energy is for this song. While it is upbeat (which might not be a term you would associate with ‘soothing’), I find the melodies and vocals to be glide effortlessly over the instrumental and everything just balances out nicely. Their vocals and rapping in this sound, alongside with the melodies are very dynamic and catchy, which are undoubtedly strong appealing points. The song’s hooks were quite addictive and I really liked how cool the English sound in this song. Jisung handling the high note was a pleasant surprise and another drawing point to the song. (10/10)

8. Blueprint (청사진)Blueprint is the type of song that you want to have playing a theme song as you stroll down a busy suburban street on a sunny day and you interact with the other pedestrians in perfect looking montage. It is also fitting for the current Summery season. Great upbeat energy coming from this song. I like how the synth heavy the song is, but I also enjoy all the actual instrumentations poking through along the way. The members add a dynamic atmosphere to the song, which I find to be very appealing. The melody that their voices carry, especially when it came to the chorus was quite memorable. Seungmin is my pick for standout member in this song. I also like how all the members sing parts of each line at the end of the song, which adds a very happy and joyful tinge of colour to the song. I found it very hard to fault this song, hence a perfect rating. (10/10)

9. Ta (타) – Two 10/10 tracks in a row? Well, I might as well spoil it now and say that this is another 10/10 track. Ta is probably the most straightforward song on this album. The start of the song reminds me of how Miroh started with jungle sounds. But what sets Ta apart from their previous dynamic sounding title track is that it just continually builds on top of those jungle sounds, creating a party-like sound that I can’t stop gravitating to. I would gladly put this one at a party to just get it started. The melodies are addictive. Their voices are amazing. The hooks are catchy. And the atmosphere is exciting and fun. What more can you ask for? (10/10)

10. Haven – Like the previous song, Haven has this addictive and memorable party-like vibe that I am digging. It is great that the two tracks are paired next to one another, as I can play both songs without needing to skip anything in between. Haven has more of a club beat during its more upbeat moments, whilst having more of a pop sound when we are in the verses. The chorus also has this nostalgic sound it, reminding me of a few party-like sounds we have heard in KPOP. I have to admit that the rap/trap sequence in the second verse cut the flow is a slightly undesirable manner and hence I can’t give it that 10/10 rating. But everything else is worthy of a listen. (9/10)

11. Top (Korean Version)Click here to read the full review for Top. (9/10)

12. Slump (Korean Version) – The Japanese version of Slump was also released alongside Top to be part of the official soundtrack of the anime, Tower of God. I really like the pop-rock path they took with this song, which is unique and different for Stray Kids. I don’t like how the vocals were autotuned during the chorus to match the autotune that the rappers had. I felt that was unnecessary and robbed the members of a chance to show off their vocals during a powerful chorus. But it is still a good song. (8/10)

13. Mixtape: Gone Days Click here to read the full review for Gone Days. (7.5/10)

14. Mixtape: On Track (바보라도 알아)Click here to read the full review for On Track. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

Group Teaser Image for Go Live
Go Live Teaser Image

[Album Review] Oneiric Diary (3rd Mini Album) – IZ*ONE

I am going to take a breather today after an intense week of comebacks and post just an album review today. The chosen album of the day is IZ*ONE’s Oneiric Diary, the group’s 3rd mini-album. The album itself features the title track, Secret Story of the Swan. Also featuring on it are the Japanese version of the title track and sidetrack Merry Go Round. This release occurs after the group returned after a rocky end of 2019 with Fiesta and BLOOM*IZ, their first studio album. Given their active return to the industry in 2020, we will definitely be seeing more releases from this popular female group. But until then, let’s have a close look at Oneiric Diary.

Oneiric Diary Album Cover

1. Welcome (Intro Track) – IZ*ONE kicks things with an introductory track. The best way I can describe the instrumental is that is similar to a music box. Just a lot slower and more boring than how I remember music boxes. The introductory track also contains vocals (hence why there is a review for it) and I am amazed that they are able to fit all 12 members into a minute and a half. The vocals give the introductory song a sweet and cutesy vibe, but it doesn’t really help make the introductory track any better than slow and boring. In the lyrics, they welcome us to the album and the IZ*Land. (6/10)

2. Secret Story of the Swan (환상동화) Click here to read the full review for Secret Story of the Swan. (7/10)

3. Pretty Pretty is a fun pop tune, with an addictive melody that is well suited for the Summery season. While the instrumental is pretty standard pop, I really enjoyed the whistling sound in the background. It adds a touch of vibrancy to the already bright and upbeat sounding song. I also really enjoyed their vocals in this song. The song brought out their vocals in a strong manner. We aren’t talking powerhouse vocals, but rather a vocal style that feels perfect for IZ*ONE. I am completely fine with the rapping, though I wonder how the song would have turned out if they infused some edge into the song via the rap sequence. I think it would have been epic. But all together as it is, pretty is probably the one word I would use to describe the song in a nutshell. Overall, Pretty brings a smile to my face and I really enjoyed it. (10/10)

4. Merry Go Round (회전목마) – We go retro with Merry Go Round. I really like the funky disco-like instrumental that opens up the song. While the instrumental remains upbeat and fun-sounding, the funky and retro disco-like instrumentation just isn’t as prevalent anymore as the song progressed, which was mildly disappointing. Covering up this flaw are the vocals. They were very clear and crisp. I really enjoyed the melodies that bring out their voices in this song. The melodies were memorable and catchy. I would have liked a bit of rapping in this song. I felt like that element was really needed and I think a really cool funky sequence would have added more substance to this song. (8/10)

5. Rococo – The main issue that I have with Rocco is that the vocals felt like it was in the foreground of the song too much. It just didn’t feel like it was mixed well into the instrumental and they felt disconnected at times. Standalone, the two elements were okay. The instrumental is more of your typical pop sound from recent times. It just has no character. I also got the impression that it was rather empty and needed more to be filled up. The vocal work was also a little typical and they too felt like could have used some backing or definition to give it some oomph. They weren’t bad in any sense, just needed more. Maybe that is why they felt too disconnected. (6/10)

6. With*OneWe end the album with the mandatory ballad. Unlike the preceding song, With*One felt a lot more cohesive and sounded quite nice. I couldn’t help but think some of their higher pitches were a tad too high for my liking and so some of the vocals came off a little screechy for my liking. Despite that, there were some good melodies, especially in the chorus. I like the pop feel of the instrumental, which prevented an eye roll once I had realized it was that mandatory ballad. I also like the way they ended the song, with all the members harmonizing. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.5/10

Group Teaser Image of IZ*ONE for Oneiric Diary
Oneiric Diary Teaser Image

[Album Review] To. Day (2nd Mini Album) – fromis_9

Fromis_9 Group teaser Image for To. Day

Welcome back to the Past Album Review segment, where I look at an album from an earlier year. Today, I will be focusing on fromis_9’s second mini-album, To. Day, which features the title track, DKDK. The album was released back in June 2018 and did not feature Jang Gyuri as she was participating in Produce 48 at the time. The reason that I chose fromis_9 for an album review this time as it has been some time since we last heard from them (their most recent single was FUN!, which was released back in Summer of last year). Hopefully, we will hear news of a fromis_9 comeback soon. But in the meanwhile, here is an album review to suffice that fromis_9 desire.

To. Day Album Cover
To. Day Album Cover

1. Close To You (다가가고 싶어) – The album opens up with a short track. Not short as like an introductory track like on other albums, but it might be able to pass as one. As there are lyrics (the narration), instrumentals and the song goes for a much longer period than standard introductory tracks, I will be treating it as one. The members narrate some words about falling in love over extremely light and soft instrumentation. Their narration is actually quite sweet-sounding and works well with the soft instrumentation. I did have a read through the English translations, and everything came off as innocent and wholesome, suitable for the cutesy image that the group started off with. My only problem is that the start and end made it feel like a full-fledged song, so I was a little disappointed when there weren’t those usual elements standard to a song (i.e. vocals, melodies, hooks etc.). (5/10)

2. Think Of You (너를 따라, 너에게) – While I do like the pop sound of Think Of You, I find the vocals to not fit as snuggly into the song as I had hoped. Take the first pre-chorus, as an example. They tried to infuse some rapping into the song through a rap-sing delivery. They might have done this for a cute effect, but it just felt uncomfortable in my opinion. The same thing can be said about the bridge. The vocals felt confined or very narrow-minded with that cutesy concept. I felt that they could have thrown in some good high notes then to begin the wrap-up procedures. What I did like were the melodies during the chorus, which felt very Fromis_9-like to me (see their debut track and DKDK, below). I also thought the instrumentation was quite bright and nice, which really helped make the song appealing to me. I just wish the vocals were more refined and polished. (7/10)

3. DKDK (두근두근) (Title Track) – I originally gave this song a 7/10 ranking. Upon reconsideration and the amount of time has passed, I had decided to bump the song up by one ranking. Click here to read the original review for DKDK. (8/10)

4. 22Century Girl (22세기 소녀)22Century Girl feels like your typical KPOP track from a female group, but it leans somewhat away from that label. Firstly, I like the Summery vibes. It is very refreshing and fun listen. The instrumental has a lot of textures going on, thanks to the various sound effects that the producers had inserted. It makes the song interesting and less mundane than other tracks. The chorus surprisingly has fewer effects in comparison to the verses (or they were a lot more subtle to notice), making it sound relatively normal. This helps makes the song feel less noisy, which could have been the descriptor I used if they maintained the use of random textures throughout the chorus. I also like how their vocals help ground the song, yet they sound very bubbly and bright. And such, it makes the song appealing to listen to. (8/10)

5. CloverClover puts the group’s vocals into the limelight. All the members sounded really nice in this song. In particular, I really like the raspy nature of Jisun’s voice at the start of the song. Jisun alone caught my attention (good job Jisun!) and had me listening to the rest of the song. It is a sweet song, with a nice pop instrumental. There is a bit of guitar in the instrumental, alongside the synths that form a fair portion of the instrumental. I like the melodies. While they help create the feel of your typical KPOP track, they also give off a nostalgic feel, reminding me of some songs from earlier in the 2010 decade. And because of this, I will be revisiting the song often as it is now on my playlists. (10/10)

6. First Love – It seems like the song following DKDK on this album are superior, in my point of view, then the songs preceding the title track. First Love has the same effect. It is a strong upbeat number to end the album on a much more positive note than how the album started. Like in the previous song, First Love brings out some nostalgic vibes. I personally feel that this song could have been a dynamic number from APINK. I like how the instrumental has a bit of texture to it, thanks to the guitars. I also like the energy that the group brings to the song, thanks to their vocals and melodies. The hooks were catchy and fun. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

  • Lee Na Kyung To. Day Teaser Image
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[Album Review] Twilight Zone (3rd Mini Album) – Ha Sung Woon

Feature Image of Ha Sung Woon's Album, Twilight Zone

Ha Sung Woon made his return earlier this month with Get Ready, which is the title track off his 3rd mini-album, Twilight Zone. I have already reviewed the song on the day of its release and now it is time for the album to be reviewed. As an overall summary (but not to spoil all my thoughts on the album), it is definitely a high quality sounding album with a lot of great tracks. For more detailed views on each of the song, you will need to continue reading. Let’s see how his sidetracks faired.

Twilight Zone Album Cover

1. Lazy Lovers – Opening up Twilight Zone is Lazy Lovers, which is a nice pop track that showcases Ha Sung Woon talents in an easygoing and trendy manner. The track is quite upbeat, features a strong retro rhythm and has a subtle funkiness that eases you into the next song. I also like his voice in this song. He switches between a falsetto and a standard pitch, which gives the song some texture in terms of his voice. The melodies and hooks to the song were also quite enjoyable. While they were relatively mild, there was a decent level of appeal to them, which helped make this song a good entrance piece for the album. (8/10)

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

3. PuzzlePuzzle is another dance-pop track that has an appealing instrumental. It is also another enjoyable track, though I do not that it just doesn’t get past that ‘enjoyable’ label (i.e. it could have been exciting as a possible next level descriptor). The song features heavy bass during the chorus to give it that driving force and this contrasts with the lighter verse. I also like how ‘jabby’ the chorus instrumental felt, which felt fun and appealing. So were the melodies, his vocals and the ‘Fill in the blanks for me’ hooks, which ties into the song’s message quite nicely (i.e. the person he is singing to is the missing puzzle piece in his life). (8/10)

4. Lie – To me, Lie is the hidden gem on this album. It sounds like a pop-rock ballad, which is something that I really enjoy. Ha Sung Woon’s vocals bring a nice colour to the song and there is a subtle level of emotion that makes it appealing. It isn’t heavy-handed, allowing this song to be a great song to be playing in the background on a relaxing day. I really like the melodies in this song, especially when it came to the chorus. The ‘Lie’ in the chorus was pretty memorable. On a side note regarding his vocals, he sounded a lot like Kim Sung Gyu (leader and main vocalist of Infinite) in this song. It also doesn’t help that the genre is also commonly associated with Kim Sung Gyu as well. I had to do a double-take while listening to this song to ensure I didn’t actually click on a Kim Sung Gyu song. But no, it is Ha Sung Woon and I think this is a great compliment, especially since Kim Sung Gyu is one of my favourite vocalists. (10/10)

5. Curiou’s (궁금‘s) – We now return to an undeniably fun number. In comparison to the other songs on this album, it might feel a little overwhelming to some. But I don’t mind it. Once again, I really like the melodies in this song. The melodies are a lot more playful and refreshing to me, which is a really strong appealing point. I also like the energy that his voice adds to the song. The instrumental feel just right and I liked the textural components to it. To me, it easily could have been a follow-up release to Bird, as it seems to have similar energy (just this one is a lot more amped up). The only troubling issue with the song is the title and the presence of the apostrophe. I don’t think it was ever explained, nor is it referenced in the song (though the Hangul is apostrophed, though I m unsure of the significance of this). So, I am a little confused with it. But other than that, another great song. (9/10)

6. Twinkle Twinkle – The jazzy vibes to the instrumental and the way Ha Sung Woon’s vocals sound during the verses are probably its memorable moments. It is also the only song to really have my attention grabbed from the start, as it definitely puts it best foot forward first. As the song progresses, his vocals get better, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also really like how his vocals are in the forefront of the song. They come off strong and very bold, whilst the instrumental only feels like an accompaniment. It is an odd balance, but one that pays off. It ends the album on a very positive note. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

Twilight Zone Teaser Image
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[Album Review] Neverland (8th Mini Album) – WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

As per the schedule, Sundays see the release of a new Weekly KPOP Chart post and an album review post. I have already posted the Weekly KPOP Chart post for the third week of June 2020. Topping the charts is WJSN’s Butterfly, which is now the number one song for two weeks in a row. It is just a coincidence that I had also prepared the album review post for the mini-album, Neverland, that includes Butterfly as the title track for posting on the same day. It just makes me introduction a little more interesting though. The group has also won two weekly music show awards since the release of both the song and mini-album. Also, I am digging the album with all the tracks alongside Butterfly being favourites of mine. Let’s see what those tracks are!

Neverland Album Cover

1. Butterfly (Title Track)Click here for the full review for Butterfly. (9.5/10)

2. Hola – The next track on the album is Hola and it starts off loud (in a good way). A better description for the song is that is a club banger and is best when the volume is up high. It like the energy that comes from it (I have personally been replaying the song for this element alone) and thoroughly enjoy the song’s intensity, thanks to its club vibes. The song’s hooks are extremely catchy and help makes their vocal work to stand out. I also like their vocal’s powerfulness, which is necessary when you pair it with a club-based instrumental like this one. My favourite one is the ‘Na Na…Na’ that follows the first and final chorus of the song. Exy’s rap sequence might be in a standard form (pretty straight forward with its deliver and in terms of the instrumental backing), but I find it is perfect for this song. I also enjoyed the chanting in the bridge. You might think I would find it awkward, but I felt it tied the song together neatly. Overall, an excellent song to follow the title track. (10/10)

3. Pantomime – The title of most unique song and favourite side-track on this album has to go to Pantomime, another song that I have regularly repeated since I first listened to the album. I find the instrumental to be very aesthetic. It is a bit irregular and isn’t as straight forward as you think, but I think it is the song’s charm. In a way, the synth heavy song keeps you on the edge of your seat as you just don’t know where the song would go next. I really liked the textural components of the instrumental and the delayed drop when it came to the chorus. I found the group’s lower tone vocals to be very fitting and helped make the song gain that aesthetic vibe. I also really liked how to keep the song different once it reached the final chorus (otherwise, this very irregular song would have felt repetitive or come off as a ‘standard track with many textural components’), Dawon goes even lower after a longer delay and I thought this was so sleek. Also, the ‘Like a Pantomime’ post-chorus hook is so memorable and addictive. (10/10)

4. Where You Are (바램) – I really enjoyed the way Where Are You started. It suits WJSN’s image quite well and had a very pretty vibe as well. And as the song progressed, those thoughts just continued to accumulate. The instrumental is a mash between pop and orchestral, which I have noted to be a great combination in the past. I also felt that Where You Are could easily be a follow up many of their earlier works thanks to the pretty vibes that I had just mentioned. The song doesn’t have that wow factor like the above two songs or the title track. But it is a great song, nonetheless. The melodies were extremely pleasant, and their vocals were quite charming. The rapping was so fitting for the song. The hooks had a sweet feel to it. Overall, a very easygoing and pleasant track to listen to. (9/10)

5. Tra-la (불꽃놀이) – WJSN carries the pleasant vibes from the previous track onto the fifth song. Once again, I find the song to be easygoing, pretty-sounding and quite calming. The song takes on a tropical instrumental, but make sure to retain their personality in the song as the song in its entirety feels suitable for WJSN. I personally find their vocals in Tra-la to be their best. While we had powerful and charming vocals, they sounded most like themselves in this song. The pre-chorus sequences had a nice build up to the sweet-sounding chorus. The song also brings me two Exy rapping sequences and both sequence (though short) bring out her potential and fits so well in the song. I find the final moments when the members sing together to be very nice and fitting for the lyrics, as well. (9/10)

6. Our Garden (우리의 정원) – The final song on the album is Our Garden and I find it to be the weakest song on this album. But it is only half a step down from the previous few songs, as I felt the hooks weren’t as profound due to its wholesome overall feels. Once again, the track has a very jazzy pop sound and brings along that pretty sound that I have mentioned from the previous song. I liked the whispery moments of the song (i.e. Dayoung and Luda at the start; and Eunseo and Luda at the start for the second verse), as the slight autotune gives it a very unique character. I also love Exy’s part in this song. Her rap is more a rap sing delivery and fits in neatly into the song. I also liked in the first half of her sequence, where there she echoes herself. The rest of the members, despite not being mentioned throughout the album review, nails their vocals once again. This track brings Neverland to a very strong close. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.3/10

Neverland Teaser Image

[Album Review] MORE & MORE (9th Mini Album) – TWICE

TWICE returned over two weeks ago with MORE & MORE, which is the title of both their latest mini-album and title track. Unfortunately, it has taken me over the two week mark to actually prepare and post my thoughts on their album. While it doesn’t seem as long but TWICE have already wrapped up their promotions for MORE & MORE. That is the case for a lot of established groups now, as they can afford to perform with shorter promotional periods, which I find a fascinating observation. And they are most likely very busy with other schedules. But while TWICE is done with promotion, I am not done with this era just yet. I need to get the album review out, so let’s keep going!

MORE & MORE Album Cover

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

2. Oxygen – One of the main drawing points of Oxygen is its instrumental. It feels fresh and is very unique. I really like all of those effects in the background during the verse, from those wavy effects that appeared behind Nayeon and Jihyo’s first parts in the verse and those clanging percussion synths that featured behind Nayeon and Jihyo’s parts when they appear next in the song (and in all their subsequent sections). The chorus also featured a very nice hollow/deep shimmering sequence, as well, which had a unique charm of its own. They all just gave the song a more dynamic touch and added some unique energy into the song. I also like how much energy they also add to the song through the vocals. The pre-chorus by the main (Jihyo and Nayeon) and lead vocalists (Jeongyeon and Mina) just showed some flair that really made the song so much more interesting. The ‘I really really…really want’ was extremely catchy. The only pitfall the song had was the rapping. It felt unnecessary and really awkward. But other than that, it is a great song. (9.5/10)

3. FireworkFirework opens up with a short Latin guitar sequence, before it becomes infused with some tropical sounds. The pairing of trends, you could call it. It seems like there are some beach sounds, just in case you didn’t get the summery theme of the song. And I will be honest, the instrumental isn’t that draining despite it being two of KPOP’s most overworked trends to date. And while there were some good vocal moments embedded throughout the song, there were a few that also set the song back a bit as well. For example, I just felt they dragged out the chorus just a touch too much, if you understand where I am coming from. I do like the rapping in this song, as it added a little changeup. It was also dragged out as well, but I don’t mind that. (8/10)

4. Make Me Go – From the very first second, I was enjoying the beat that Make Me Go was channeling. It felt mature and sensual in a manner that suits Twice so well. The upbeat nature of the instrumental and its funkiness reminds me of Breakthrough and I felt that this would be an excellent follow up to that track. I really liked how they infuse a bit of brass into the song, giving that extra hook (as I find brass elements in songs to be great appealing mechanisms). But the killing point of the song has to be the low chorus. It had me screaming internally. They sounded so good this way. However, while I was on board with this really cool and catchy chorus, it also brought the weakest moment of the song. The member’s ‘Do It’ felt unnecessary. If it didn’t have that one small detail, then I would have given this a perfect ranking. (9.5/10)

5. Shadow Shadow continues the album’s direction of a mature sound. We have definitely gone far away from their earlier cutesy works when they first started out. Shadow feels like that track that established mature artists have been putting out for a while now. While its synth-based instrumental is rather plain, I do find the song to be quite easy on the ears, which makes it decent to listen to. Their vocal work is quite good, but I just wished that the song had that TWICE colour to it, which is noticeably missing. The strongest part of the has to be that (not sure what you would call it) but that humming stuff that followed the chorus. It just felt so smooth. I don’t recall any rap sequences and I feel like a mean rap sequence would have been nice to give the song some edge and subsequently stand out. But overall, a decent listen. (8/10)

6. Don’t Call Me AgainDon’t Call Me Again is quite rough around the edges thanks to its characteristic marching band style instrumental. If they found a way to really soften those edges a bit, I would have appreciated it more. More the most part, the song didn’t evoke any emotions out of me. The instrumental was quite linear and their vocal felt very expressionless. It is another song that felt it needed a good rap sequence to cut it down a bit and bring in some relief to the consistency. And I think it would have mixed in neatly into this song. Overall, a passable song. (6/10)

7. Sweet Summer Again – For some odd reason, I can’t tell if the song starts off with the sound of a crowd, a bunch of seagulls or both! I just can’t pinpoint regardless of how many times I listen to the song and thought it would be a funny thing to share. What Sweet Summer Again really brings back to the table is a bright energy, which has been absent for a number of tracks so far. And on the plus side, it feels like your typical TWICE song, based from the energy that comes from it. The vocals and rapping were pretty good . The song had decent hooks and I liked the 90s feel of the instrumental. Overall, a nice song to end the album with. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

MORE & MORE Teaser Image

[Album Review] Breaking Sensation (2nd Mini Album) – SF9

It is time for another PAR (Past Album Review). And this time, I went with a mini-album as they contain less songs and are much faster to write, as a result. The group that I chose to focus on is one that I have yet to cover on this segment of album reviews. And they definitely need a shout out as they are still underrated! I am talking about SF9, the nine-member male dance group from FNC Entertainment. More recently, the group returned with their 1st album (First Collection) and the title track, Good Guy, which earned them their first wins on the weekly music shows! Finally, some recognition for the group! But today, I will be reviewing the album which contains the first song that attracted my attention, which is Easy Love. Easy Love is part of the group’s second mini-album, Breaking Sensation, which was released back in 2017.

Breaking Sensation Album Cover

1. Intro: Around Farewell (Intro: 이별 즈음에) – The album kicks off with the rappers do their thing in the introductory manner. I don’t remember listening to this track in the past as it feels very unfamiliar. And it is a pity, as I think Around Farewell would be very suitable for their more recent albums. The track takes on a hip-hop beat. This personally isn’t my usual genre to listen to, but the rappers make it quite captivating. Hwiyoung starts it off with a slow manner, before kicking it up a notch. Youngbin continues the momentum, before Zuho brings his raspy tone into the mix. Chani delivery in this song is more on the rap-speaking side and adds an emotional twist of the song. The song ends with a muffled electronically autotuned ‘No More Easy Love’, leading us to the title track. (8/10)

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

3. Watch Out – There are two notable elements in the instrumental of Watch Out that I really enjoyed. The first has to be the 90s feel that the instrumental gives (more specifically NSYNC vibes). The second has to be the piano in the background. Together, these two blends together, with the help of other elements, to become a strong track. I liked how hard hitting the chorus because of the beat and piano. The instrumental seems to steal the show for me, so the vocals and rapping didn’t attract too much attention when I do a glance over the track. But when I do focus squarely on the vocals and the rapping, there was a lot of potential behind their vocal work and rapping delivery. I don’t want to comment specifically on any members as the entire vocal/rap element stands out as a whole and makes it hard for me to zone into one member or side. (9/10)

4. Hide & Seek (머리카락 보일라) – With quite heavy and intense tracks so far, Hide & Seek seems to changes it up be infusing some brightness to give off the impression of light and a more easygoing vibe. I personally don’t mind this change up as the track has a nice instrumental that I can’t help but boogie to while writing this review. The vocals and rapping are commendable. I liked how they infused the rapping into the song, and this ended up being standout moments for me. I also liked their vocal energy in this song as it progressed, especially when it came to the chorus. There is just a sweetness to it that I find very appealing. The instrumental seems retro and old school. There is almost a jazzy vibe and I enjoyed the brass that peeked through. (9/10)

5. Fall Down (이러다가 울겠어) – We seem to return to the roots of the album by going with a heavier and more mature sounding part. There is an electronic influence on Fall Down’s instrumental from the very first second. It felt promising at first. But as the song progressed, that opening synth (which is subsequently replayed throughout the instrumental of the track) just lost its promise. The song stayed relatively consistent and everything that was added over it just felt neutral. There wasn’t anything to be excited about. And this rubbed off on the vocals and rapping as well. If I was to pick which I preferred, the rapping takes the edge as the vocal melodies seemed to maintain that neutral gear, which dried out the song. Unfortunately, Fall Down is my pick for skipable track on this album. (6/10)

6. Why (왜 이래) – The final track on the album takes a completely different route to any of the above songs, thanks for the acoustic sound. There were really good vocal moments in the song and the chorus was very addictive with its simple melody. I really liked how they emphasised the title of the song (the ‘Wae Irae’ parts of the chorus). When the rapping came into play, it felt like a nostalgic throwback to some old KPOP from earlier in the decade. Overall, I found it to be a nice closing song for the album and as a song in general. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

SF9 Member’s Teaser Images for Breaking Sensation

[Album Review] Delight (2nd Mini Album) – Baekhyun (EXO)

Making his return at the end of last month was Baekhyun. This comeback was in the form of his second mini-album, Delight, which features the title track, Candy. And as you can tell by the title of this post, we will be focusing on his album (as I have already reviewed Candy – link to this review is down below). I have previously reviewed both Baekhyun’s solo debut title track (UN Village) and mini-album (City Lights) when it was released last year. His first mini-album contained really memorable side tracks such as Psycho and Diamond. Continuing his R&B influence, let’s see unwrap the new album and see if it is truly a delight.

Delight Album Cover

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

2. R U Ridin’ – At first, R U Ridin’ begins like a straightforward R&B track. As the song progresses, it defuses into a dance track, thanks to the use of percussion during the chorus. At large, the song would fit neatly into the R&B genre. The chorus actually reminds me of those trends that people used to put up online, where they danced whilst next to a slow-moving car (excuse my old person’s way of describing this). There seems to be some good energy coming from the track and there is a decent appeal to the song. While there is a likable vibe, the song isn’t my cup of tea or personal style. Sure, there are many R&B tracks that I listen to, but this one comes off as rather plain. It is just not something that I would go out of my way to seek and play. Though, Baekhyun’s vocal work here was really good, particularly those ad-libs he threw into the song at the end. (7/10)

3. BungeeBungee gets a slightly more positive review despite it being quite similar to the preceding song with the R&B genre. I find Baekhyun’s use of falsetto to be an attractive aspect of the song. I also find the piano and drum beat synth to help create a dynamic yet soft instrumentation. This separates this and the preceding song apart in a very distinctive manner. Just listen to the piano in the bridge sequence as an example of how more dynamic the instrumental feels. Pairing the vocals and instrumental, we get a pretty smooth track overall that I enjoyed. (8/10)

4. Underwater – What drew my attention to Underwater is that the synths come together to make it feel like we are underwater. It has that wavy type of feel that feels like the bubbles that come about when we try to talk under water (I am sure that most people would know what I am referring to). Just the synths in the background aren’t consistent, so it feels like those bubbles are of varying sizes. Apart from that analogy, the song adopts the R&B genre, once again. He has an impressive display of vocals in this song, go into falsetto during some parts and opting for a slight breathy approach in other parts. I also liked his ad-libs and ‘Ooo’ at the end of the song, which helped ease the song out in a unique manner. (8/10)

5. Poppin’ – We re-enter energetic territory through Poppin’. A much-needed boost for this album as more consecutive R&B tracks could easily drag this album out and would result in a bore. Poppin’ isn’t an overwhelming injection of energy, which keeps it in line with the previous songs. I liked the simple beat of the instrumental and what seems to be a muffled 8-bit type of sound. It gives texture in a subtle way. Overall, the instrumental feels very easygoing and lively, relative to the other songs on this album. The vocals also feel a lot more dynamic and brighter, which helps add additional energy into the song. The chorus is undoubtedly the strongest part of the song, with a catchy ‘Here Now’ hook, though it sounds more like ‘Hey Now’ to me. (8.5/10)

6. Ghost – This is the song that attracted my attention the most prior to listening to the album. I just liked the title of the song. I have a dark soul like that. My expectations were that this would be a grungy or angst number. But that wouldn’t fit into a predominately R&B number. Instead, Ghost opts for an upbeat dance number. And before I go any further, this set up exceed any expectation I had. The instrumental for this song is very attractive, incorporating hand drums, guitars and synths. These seem to be an odd combination, but they come together very nicely and each of these elements have a boldness to them throughout the song. Vocally, Baekhyun sounds amazing. He has the support of a strong chorus with catchy melodies. Together, this song becomes the memorable number of the entire album (and dare I say, a better track that the main track). (10/10)

7. Love Again – The final song the album predominately features acoustic guitars and a deep drumbeat (there is a bit of piano infused later on). Baekhyun’s vocals start off muffled by some autotune, before it goes low and deep. Once the chorus comes along, his vocals stay quite low. But the instrumental seems to go into a soft pop mode. I liked how the acoustic guitar gave the song texture and it became the bold element of the instrumental. For the final moments of the song, Love Again changes it up to infuse little bit of angst before diffusing out back to the acoustic guitar. While this change doesn’t make sense initially, it grew on me and became a very interesting manner to end the song and album with. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

Delight Teaser Image

[Album Review] The W (3rd Mini Album) – Park Ji Hoon

And it is now that time of the week for another album review. Fridays and Sundays are dedicated for the more recent album releases. For example, today we will be diving into Park Ji Hoon’s most recent album release, The W. This is the soloist’s 3rd mini-album since his solo debut last year and it also features the title track, Wing. I have been paying close attention to Park Ji Hoon as his title tracks have been quite dynamic in the past and his albums have been good listens. This one is pretty much the same, so let’s see how it sounds.

The W Album Cover

1. On The Rise – Usually, I do not review the introductory tracks as there are instrumental-based. Sometimes I do comment on them if they do have a uniqueness to them, but I don’t include them in the rating. But any introductory track that consist vocals will contribute to the rating. And On The Rise falls into the latter category. The song features a similar instrumental as the title track (see the review below), just everything is at a very lower tone and slower pace. Park Ji Hoon also uses his deep voice in this song, which reflects well with the instrumental. The deeper tone does give the song a heaviness, but as it is quite short, it comes off as airy, which is ideal for an opener. The catchy ‘Doom Doom Doom‘ from the title track is featured in this track, but the rest of the lyrics are different. (8/10)

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

3. Frequency (주파수) – The start to Frequency was quite promising when I first heard for the first time. Unfortunately, the song just didn’t go in the direction I had wanted with that start. I am a little disappointed about this, but the direction it did end up going in was actually quite good. The song opted for a sleek R&B instrumental, which incorporated a really cool piano and squeaky synth combo instrumental break during the bridge that gave the song unexpected life. Otherwise, I would have said that the song went with a slow burning form of R&B. I also did like the rest of the instrumental, when the piano would peek through and there were some funky synths presents to further add some appealing details to the background. Park Ji Hoon actually sounds pretty good here and I liked when he switches to a rap-speaking delivery for a brief moment. Usually, I want more. But I feel like the song does justice with his vocals, which I felt more drawn to. (9/10)

4. Driving – Another great start to a song on this album. This time around, I didn’t have much expectations for it. So Driving ran its course and at the end, I am naturally reaching for the replay button. The song starts with a slow pop type of vibe. It was interesting to note that they returned to this slow pop vibe throughout the track and I liked that, as if they were reminding us of the song’s roots. But what I really liked about the song the most was the fast tempo chorus. In terms of the tempo and melodies, it is quite different to the how the song started and I liked that contrast. The bass helped it become dynamic and energetic. The song would be perfect for when you are driving with the windows down on a nice bright sunny day. Park Ji Hoon’s vocal was very nice. The rapping was good, but I felt that the producers could have taken that sequence up a notch by giving it some more texture in the instrumental. (9/10)

5. ParadiseParadise combines and mashes different styles, all falling under the realm of EDM. But I think it fits under the house genre, overall. The song seems to play around with texture for a bit. Nothing crazy or concerning, actually relatively tame when you think about it. It starts off with a relatively smooth instrumental and features a very straight forward melody, which made it appeal to those who may want something ‘simple’. The chorus changes up with a more complicated and textural deep house style. At first, the combination of the two seems to not go hand-in-hand, but it slowly grows on you. Unlike the title track, we are eased into the change for a brief few seconds. And this change was minute and didn’t cut the flow of the song, which was an issue in the title track. I liked his husky vocals in this song, which added more texture of the song. (8/10)

5. Let’s Love – It isn’t Summer until you hear some tropical beats in a song. As I have noted in past reviews, it is still in its refreshing stage due to the limited number of tropical 2020 tracks. I do note that the number of these tracks is slowly growing and maybe a few more might remind me of how tiring the genre really is. While that is the current situation for tropical influenced numbers overall, I just don’t hear anything that special with this track to warrant much discussion, apart from the use of piano-like synth in the instrumental. And for that, I find it rather typical sounding. Even Park Ji Hoon’s vocals came off in that manner and probably earns the title for the most skipable track on the album. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

The W Teaser Image

[Album Review] The Red (1st Studio Album) – Red Velvet

It has been a while since the last Past Album Review (i.e. an album review from previous years of my choosing) as I always ended up choosing a studio album, which usually consisted of 10 or more songs. So, they are quite time consuming and lengthy to write up. And it is because of this that I have been skipping a few weeks of PARs. But I am hoping I can get ahead during this week, so I have a bunch to schedule. For this week, it is another studio album that took me the last few weeks to write. I am talking about Red Velvet’s The Red, which was released back in September 2015. It featured the title track Dumb Dumb and was highly praised overall for its quirkiness. Personally, I think the album is a good mix of tracks that highlighted Red Velvet’s potential at the time. Looking back, it is one of Red Velvet’s more iconic releases to date. Let’s have a closer look at the album.

The Red Album Cover

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

2. Huff n Puff – Quite sure that at the time of its release, I would have considered Huff n Puff to be a one-of-a-kind song. And that feeling might be the same after all these years. I really liked its roughness, heaviness and robustness. As mentioned before, the childish notes in the instrumental, along with the trap breakdown we get in the song gives it a fun feel. The crashing at the end was also a fun nod to the Big Bad Wolf. Their hooks to be quite creative and catchy, adding to that fun feel even more. The shouty nature of the chorus really helps them stand out in the chorus, which is very heavy with dramatic thumping. The members opt for some rapping throughout the song, which really compliments the song’s nature. We also get a Wendy Happiness moment, though in Huff n Puff, this is shared between Seulgi and Wendy (and my pick for best moment, aside from the chorus). (9/10)

3. Campfire – The members are reminiscent of a campfire, which is where the first moves of a relationship were made. In the midst of all of that, there are cutesy actions referenced by the members associated with camping and campfires, which gives the song that innocent swing. Once again, their delivery is a mixture of rapping and vocals. While the rapping was very nice, their vocal work stands out the most in this song. As for the instrumental, it is made of a mixture of heavy thumping and an upbeat R&B rhythm. Quite attractive, if you ask me. I would love to see a instrumental for this song and wonder what direction would they take. It would be interesting to see them go with some edgy with this song. There moments that I thought were a little forgettable (i.e. the verses), but overall, Campfire was another strong side-track. (8/10)

4. Red Dress – Another upbeat number. But the instrumental for this is a lot lighter and bouncy at the same time, which is a little different from the heaviness that we have heard thus far. But while the song starts off in a very powerful manner, I did not like how they toned down the energy for the chorus. It is like an inverted song. I would have loved for them to go with an even more intense chorus and have that executed decently to help blow me away. I am glad that the final chorus manages to up the energy (relatively to the other choruses in this song). But it still doesn’t cut it for me. Their vocals were nice and crystal clear throughout the song. I say that because they easily could have masked their vocals with an overpowering instrumental in any of the song on the album thus far. But the producers made sure the members shined in each song so far. (7/10)

5. Oh Boy – The opening to Oh Boy feels like it can be used as the opening to a sitcom or teenage TV show. I like its boldness and Wendy wows with her vocals in just the opener. Joy also performs the opener throughout the song as well, showcasing her vocals. What I like about the song is that it just continues as it is. The instrumental is already bold thanks to the energy that comes off it. So, there is no need to change it. The member’s vocals add to this boldness and really strengthens the song in a way that really captures your attention. I also like how it is in the forefront of the song and sounds very crisp on top of the instrumental. It is very catchy and upbeat. Overall, a really strong side-track on this album. (10/10)

6. Lady’s Room – I really like the 90s feel to the instrumental. It felt like it could have come from a hip-hop track and it also feels like a song that could have come from LOONA (a much more recent group, who debuted a few years after the release of this album). Obviously, there is a little more to the song’s instrumental. It is toned down to be appropriate for this girl group. While I think there are good vocals in this song, I find that the song’s melodies feel little lost and non-cohesive in this track. The vocal melodies and instrumental just don’t merge nicely together and this weigh the song down for me. With that in mind, Lady’s Room could have been more enjoyable with the right fitting melodies. (6/10)

7. Time Slip – The song has R&B roots, but the melodies during the verses seem to direct us toward the hip-hop genre. It is a very nice mash of the two genres. The song feels quite clean and straightforward, with the various sections of the song attaining to one of the two genres. Never do they actually merge to be uncategorizable. The R&B sections (i.e. the choruses) showcase the group’s smooth vocals, while the members do a fair amount of rapping in the song’s verses. It is backed with a really trendy instrumental. And with all these elements together, Time Slip easily could have been released now and I would not even ping it as a song released years ago. I really liked the ending of the song. It is dragged out, but it ties the song together quite nicely with its bass and their catchy ‘Baby here we go’ hook. (9/10)

8. Don’t U Wait No More – Aside from the title track, Don’t U Wait No More seems to the peak of Red Velvet’s Red side. For those who don’t remember or know, Red Velvet releases tend to fall into two categories. Red is more of their colourful and energetic releases, while Velvet is their more silky and mature releases. It seems like Red Velvet releases don’t follow this system anymore, but it is always interesting to guess how songs would fit into the categories. Opening the song up is the very catchy hook of the repetition of the title. It is paired with what I would consider to be a wacky instrumental. It makes use of a bouncy set of synths that is quite low, contrasting with their vocals (which is where the energy is injected into the song). While the shortness might be a flaw for those who enjoy the song, I can see why the song was kept short. It relies heavily on repetition and if it went on for any longer, I fear the song would be considered repetitive (in a bad way) and excessively boring. But don’t worry. I like it the song exactly how it is. (8.5/10)

9. Day 1 – The initial moments of this song, I thought the song was going to fall into their Velvet side. But that would be ill fitting, considering that the entire album is called The Red (and hence alludes to their Red side). But in a matter of seconds, the song injects a fair amount of enjoyable energy into the song. I really liked the old retro vibes in this song. It feels like it could easily be a musical number thanks to the song’s melody. Even the ending has that Hollywood theatre type of vibe to it. The chorus was cute and quite catchy. Vocally, Day 1 is a very strong song. The fact that they sing together in the choruses are further signs that support the musical feel of the song. Wendy’s high note was pretty good. I was concerned about how they would bolster the song, but the high note and inclusive singing in the chorus resolved that concern with minimal effort. (9/10)

10. Cool WorldCool World is a very pleasant pop track. It ends the album neatly. A little too neatly, if you asked for my personal opinion. While the song does have a refreshing vibe thanks to its easygoing instrumental and it does feel quite suitable for the Summer season, the song feels quite bland. We don’t get much from the members in this song other than straightforward vocals. I wished that the song somehow had more of a zing and energetic vibes, which would be more enjoyable. But still, Cool World works gracefully and comfortably as an album ender. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

The Red Teaser Image

[Album Review] FANTASIA X (8th Mini Album) – MONSTA X

The next album review we need to cover before we get stuck into one busy week of comebacks and releases is MONSTA X’s latest release, FANTASIA X. As mentioned in the review for the mini-album’s title track (FANTASIA), this is the group’s first official domestic release that does not feature Wonho as a member, who left the group last year while the group was promoting their previous release, Follow. Let’s dig deep into the album and see what the group has to offer for us in their eighth mini-album.

FANTASIA X Album Cover

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

2. FLOW – Following from FANTASIA, FLOW maintains an upbeat and increased intensity approach with certain sections of the song. However, it doesn’t stay in that gear for the entirety of the song. Instead, FLOW contains some soft moments in the song, but they are easily overridden and forgotten to the harsher moments of the song’s instrumental. Further contrasting with the more crunchy and powerful moments of the song, the lyrics for FLOW stakes on a deep meaning, conveying that sometimes we need to ‘go with the flow’ in life. The lyrics also compare people to swans, who may seem calm above water, but their legs are rather frantic underwater. It helps put the song’s choices into context, with the contrast between the soft and harsher sequences. As like the title track, I don’t mind their intense and angsty approach this time around, though I do wish they toned it down a bit so that their softer sections were more present. As for the members, the vocalists seemed to have been left behind as this angst sound felt more suitable for the rappers. Particularly Jooheon, who really did a good job with his pre-chorus sequences. (8/10)

3. ZONE – One of my concerns with the title track is that their style might be overwhelming for some, especially if they continually release songs of the same caliber. I feel ZONE could easily be a solution to that concern and become a title track itself. It has that intensity through its club centric EDM instrumental, and it shares a common level of energy as the title track had. But it doesn’t feel over the top and while listening to it, I did not get that overwhelming feeling to it. I also get a slight feeling of restraint despite the chorus instrumental being quite erratic in style. I also attribute the lack of that overwhelming feeling to the verses, which provide enough relief from the high intensity moments (i.e. that erratic instrumental in the chorus) to give us a chance to breathe, even though they were short. The song also shares a good balance of powerful rapping and slick vocals. (9/10)

4. Chaotic – Firstly, Chaotic is not as chaotic as the title suggest. In fact, the song felt quite tame in comparison to the preceding tracks. That being said, the song does fall into EDM branch of music and features some trendy synths that really grab your attention at the right moments (such as that machine gun style synth that appears at the end of the first and last chorus). There also seems to be some dramatic flair in the song during the bridge, when they incorporate some classical instrument to give it that oomph and wow factor. While the rapping and vocals impress once again, I have to admit the pronunciation of some of the English in the song made me do a few audio ‘double takes’’, as I thought I heard ‘Alligator’ instead of ‘I’m In Chaotic’ (which doesn’t make any sense to begin with). But other than that flaw, Chaotic is definitely a nice breather from the powerful tunes we have heard so far (despite it being a powerful tune itself). (8/10)

5. Beautiful Night – Continuing that much needed relief is Beautiful Night. It is a pop track that does not employ any explosive synths or powerful tunes. Instead, it is quite calming and pleasant. It does manage to continue that album’s upbeat trend. Calming and pleasant are also words I would apply to the song’s instrumental, with some parts opting for some acoustic guitars on top of the pop synths we get in the song. The vocals are the prime focus of this song, giving us an opportunity to appreciate their glory without anything to overpower it. Even the rappers adopt a rap-sing technique for their delivery, which shows their complete intention to shy away from the style they have been throwing at us so far. The melodies are quite nice, but the song fails to catch on with any memorable hooks in my opinion. (8.5/10)

6. It Ain’t Over – The group takes that softer approach once again with a R&B dance track. Though, for a second there at the very start during my initial listen, I thought the song would revert the album back to their more intense sounds. I liked the song’s clean sound and its simplicity, relative to the other songs on the album. It had a funky beat mixed into the background, along with quite memorable catchy. I really liked the instrumental when it goes for those droopy synths just after the choruses. I liked their member’s clear vocals and rap sequence. I did hope for the rapping to be a little more dynamic, but what we got was pretty good. As for the standout member, it has to be Hyungwon, who had plentiful amount of lines throughout the song. (8/10)

7. Stand Up – Completing the album is Stand Up, which kicks things off with all the members singing together. It is the best part of the song and I enjoy it each time we return to the inclusive sound. Overall, the song is quite light as well, but it employs some interesting house synths while also having this inspirational vibe to it. This is a pretty neat combination. There is one flaw to the song, which is its typical nature. But other than that, it is a nice ender. The members sound quite good and I liked the dynamic feel the rappers gave the song, which helped boost the appeal of the song. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

FANTASIA X Teaser Image

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

It is time for another album review. And today, we will be looking more closely at TXT’s latest mini-album, The Dream Chapter: Eternity, which features the group’s latest single, Can’t You See Me. I don’t want to give away too much of my thoughts on the album before we get to the more juicy bits of the review (i.e. the songs). But what I will say without spoiling those thoughts is that this album is definitely one to check out before reading the review. I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises that TXT has installed. This album has officially become one of my favourites of the year and I am very impressed with this establishing male group. On with the review!

The Dream Chapter: Eternity Album Cover

1. Drama – What an outstanding opener to the album. Drama kicks us off with a very energetic and upbeat funky number that I will definitely be replaying constantly into the future. I really like the deep and accented piano that just stands out in the instrumentation. I also really like the funky guitar rhythm that we get in the chorus. It pushes the song along very nicely and adds additional energy to the song thanks to its fast tempo. The addition brass really gives it some extra life and makes everything feel quite fun. I am not so much into instrumental break, which feels more of a performance element as there wasn’t really anything musically about it. The members themselves sound very nice and helped the vocal melodies standout. But the winning segment of the song belongs to Yeonjun, whose rapping segment was just so on point and more energy to the song. Yeonjun is followed by Beomgyu and Soobin, who harmonized together as a rapper and vocalist effortlessly. It is say to say that they started this album with what I would consider a top song! (9/10)

2. Can’t You See Me (세계가 불타버린 밤, 우린) (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review for Can’t You See Me. (9/10)

3. Fairy Of Shampoo (샴푸의 요정) – From what I am reading, Fairy Of Shampoo is a remake of a classical single of the same name by Light & Salt. It is a low tone jazz number that really captures your attention as it is unlike any song that I have heard in modern day KPOP so far (and very different from the song preceding and following it). What I did notice during my initial listen of the album (to decide whether to review the album or not) is that the song had a very ‘old’ Korean pop music melody to it, as it felt like I was listening to one of those covers on the Korean TV show, Immortal Song, where current artists compete with covers of a popular act from back in the day. And this makes total sense, given that the song was released in 1990. The jazzy elements, such as the brass and piano, of the song really made the song standout instrumentally. It may feel like traditional jazz. But mainstream or traditional genres aren’t heard as much nowadays due to the trend of mashing genres. The song brings out the group’s vocal chops. We hear the members sing at a low tone to match with the instrumental, whilst also singing with a falsetto approach. (9/10)

4. Maze In The Mirror (거울 속의 미로) Maze In The Mirror has an alternative slow rock type of feel to it and this is combined with acoustics. It feels very innocent in a way, given the song’s softness. But I find the atmosphere to be very tense. It might be the song’s lyrics, which is about becoming lost in one’s thoughts and feelings. From what I am reading, the song is based on the thoughts and feelings of the members during their training days. Talking about the members, once again, they sounded amazing in this song. They probably, too, add to the tense atmosphere of the song. Interestingly, their voice stayed quite soothing throughout the song, from start to end. It helped give the song an ominous yet calming tone to the song. I really like how the rock side of the song slowly comes into play as the song progresses. It doesn’t full kick in until the very end, which was interesting. But it is one of the charms of the song, as it slowly churns to that peak. (8/10)

5. PUMA (동물원을 빠져나온 퓨마) – A music video for this track was just released yesterday or the day before. I won’t be writing a separate review for it and will be keeping the music video for a ‘Missed Review’ post later on. PUMA returns the album to the same style which the main title track is based on. Dark and edgy. More specifically, the song conforms to the hip-hop genre and it follows the previous song with a heightened level of intensity. It is another interesting track as when we talk about dark, edgy and intensity, we think of a song that really packs a punch in one way or another. But we never get that punch throughout the song. The instrumental and vocal/rapping stay relatively consistent throughout. Part of me feels disappointed that we didn’t get a musical punch in this song. But at the same time, it would have felt cliché and typical. TXT seems to put a twist on the style and I quite like that idea. (8.5/10)

6. Eternally – I have used the word interesting throughout this album review a lot thus far. But I think we can all agree that interesting is just a teaser for Eternally. The final song on the album starts off as an alternative R&B number. It is rather slow, and their vocals sound so smooth and superb. About a minute and fifteen seconds into the song, it changes up unexpectedly with a trap-based background and the members going into a low tone rapping sequence. If I were to describe another way, think of a really well written plot twist to a movie or story that turns the story upside down. The song re-enters R&B territory, albeit with a slow rock type of vibe to it. We return back to that change up one more time and then the song ends with another slow rock R&B mix. I find Eternally to be very thrilling and a very big surprise. It is experimental in many ways, but I think their trick ends up successful enough to be a 10/10 song. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

The Dream Chapter: Eternity Teaser Image

[Album Review] The Book Of Us: The Demon (6th Mini Album) – DAY6

Apologies for another day late album review. I was a bit busy yesterday and only got the Weekly Chart Post out before the day was over. But before we proceed with any more reviews, I had to get this out so I don’t fall behind (I had cancelled a few album reviews this year because of this). The album I have chosen to review yesterday/today is DAY6’s The Book of Us: The Demon, which features Zombie. This is the third mini-album release part of The Book of Us series, following The Book of Us: Gravity (title track – Time Of Our Life) and The Book of Us: Entropy (title track – Sweet Chaos). Unfortunately, DAY6 will not be promoting this album, which is a major pity given how good the songs on this album (and any album of theirs) are.

The Book of Us: The Demon Album Cover
The Book of Us: The Demon Album Cover

1. Day & Night (해와 달처럼) – Opening this album is Day & Night. While the track is quite upbeat and bright in terms of energy, I find it to be quite light and really nice as an opener track. It opens up with this synth that resembles harmonizing vocals and some short guitar beats. We are then thrown into a verse with really nice vocals and we hear the track slowly building up to the pop-centric chorus, which features a really appealing blast of energy and keeps in line with the rest of the song. As mentioned, the vocals are quite nice throughout the song, not just the verses. I really liked the melodies in this song, especially when it came to the pre-chorus. I also liked the alternating lines that Wonpil and Dowoon shared (Yes, we should celebrate as Dowoon has lines!!!). I find the lyrics to be very interesting. They sing about opposites happening (hot and cold; getting closer but disappearing from sight; up and down; sun and moon etc.). It is as if them and their partner cannot seem to be on the same page for this relationship to work (but it isn’t at that broken stage yet). Very nice song, overall. (9/10)

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

3. Tick Tock Tick Tock approaches ballad territory, but it never really sets foot into that area. Instead, it has this upbeat-ness to it that really holds it back from being a ballad. This slow style isn’t usually my style, but there is something quite captivating in this song. It might be their mature sound, which compliments and adds onto the mature vibes we got from Zombie. The way Young K brings his raspy tone to the song at the very start was extremely impressive and impactful. The instrumental for this song has this really mellow yet heavy feel to it, which I think is very nice. It invokes that swaying effect, which I really enjoy when it comes to ballads (and hence why I feel it approaches that area of music). I also like the synthesizer keyboard that is used in the song, bringing that synth that I just cannot find the right words to describe. But it really makes the song sound unique and charismatic. The lyrics are quite depressing, referencing the moment they notice that their relationship is over. (8/10)

4. Love Me or Leave Me – Out of all the side-tracks on the album, Love Me or Leave Me is probably the one that jumped out at me. It has become my pick for best song (other than the title track) on the album. It starts off slow and it remains in a slow rock mode for about halfway into the first verse. The song then sudden ticks to a much faster tempo for the pre-chorus, with the synth keyboard being the most prevalent sound in this section. It then increases in tempo once again for the chorus, going for a relentless and loaded rock sound. It may sound messy, but DAY6 (given their past work) makes it into a cohesive track that really sticks. This sudden yet accumulating energy really helps push the song forward. The melodies really helped make their vocals shine, especially the post-chorus hook, which featured on the most intense moment of the instrumental. As per the discussion on lyrics thus far, DAY6 asks their lover to honestly decide whether to stay or to leave in their relationship. (10/10)

5. STOP (때려쳐) – DAY6 amps up the rock sound to ensure its influence starts at the very first second on the album. It is a sign that they are not messing around. Like how they are in the lyrics of the song, where they had enough with the lies and inconsistent excuses their partner is telling them. The song is quite good with decent vocals, memorable melodies and a standout chorus (i.e. when they all shout ‘Stop This’ and ‘There Is No Answer’). I really like the harmonies that follows those lines, along with the harmonies present in the bridge of the song. I also really like the electric guitar riffs that acted like accents or details within the instrumental. But while I do give a tick of approval for this song, I was hoping that STOP would build on itself and kick it up a notch as it developed. Unfortunately, it didn’t. So, I am slightly disappointed on that part. (8/10)

6. 1 to 10 – It seems like my wishes are answered in 1 to 10. As above, I wanted the preceding song to step it up. And it definitely feels like 1 to 10 does just that. In addition to that, it seems to take a page from their brighter songs on the album, allowing the song to become memorable in all regards. The guitar riffs and drum beats that make up the song’s instrumental are quite cohesive and consistent throughout the song. There is also a tense vibe to the song, which makes it thrill to listen to. In addition to the instrumental, the vocals are very on point. And that, in combination with the catchy melodies that the song features, makes DAY6 bring their A-game without the use of powerhouse vocals. Another perfect song, in my opinion. As for the lyrics, they change their tune by moving away from heartbreak to declaring their love for their partner. (10/10)

7. Afraid – The album ends on a much more emotional note than in comparison to any of the above songs, with Afraid being about the members becoming worried that their partner is becoming like them due their insecurities. The contrast with the rest of the album is quite strong for obvious reasons and this just draws your attention right into Afraid. Their vocal tone is what gives the song that emotional tinge and I felt that each member also brought their A-game this song, just in a completely different sound as the preceding song. The instrumental for Afraid brings together beautiful acoustic guitars and piano melodies, along with intense electric guitar riffs and drums. I thoroughly enjoyed how the song builds on itself, climaxing during the start of the bridge. The bridge is also my pick for the best part of the song, bringing a bit of trendy touch to the song. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.1/10

The Book of Us: The Demon Teaser Image

[Review] Absence – Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

Despite all the Mamamoo members being active as solo artists in the first half of this year, we have yet to see the members together. They did say that they will be focusing on solo activities for the first part of 2020, from memory. But there was no indication for how long. Let’s hope we get one in the second half of the year (I am sure we will!). In the meantime, the members do continually treat us with new solo releases. For example, yesterday, Moonbyul dropped her repackaged mini-album, 門OON, which features the new track, Absence. This repackaged album features all the songs on Dark Side Of The Moon, including Eclipse.

I am genuinely surprised with this comeback. It is another side of Moonbyul that we have never seen before. And that is the beauty of solo releases. They give us different profiles of the singer, some of which will never be shown when they promoting with their original groups. Eclipse gave us a very dark and edgy side of Moonbyul. And Absence gives us an emotional Moonbyul. The instrumental is a bit standard to my ears. There are elements in Absence that reminds me of a ballad, such as the really emotionally charged vocals and the classical setup that forms part of the instrumental. The song does infuse some trap beats into the background, giving the song that ability to bring a dance to the performance (more on that in a bit). And it is this combination that allows the song to come off as moody and somewhat dull. What I really like about this are Moonbyul’s vocals and the song’s melodies, which helps steer the song away from that feeling. She gets more opportunities to show her vocals off in this song. The showcase of her vocals have been on the rise, but this is something we have not heard from her. You can hear the heartbreak in this song through vocals, which is definitely a sign of a good vocalists. And to know that this vocalist is more commonly known for being a rapper is something. As the song builds, her vocals become more powerful and I quite like this. Her nasally tone is very appealing. I also like that bit of rapping she throws into the song. Cliche and typical, but still quite nice. Actually, that summarises all thoughts I have on Absence in a short manner.

For this review, I will be combining the music video and performance sections of the review. The music video is a performance video, as stated in the title of the official music videos. There is a number of closeups of Moonbyul singing into the camera throughout, so essentially it adopts a closeup and choreography formula. I did like the black and white filter that was placed on majority of the video. It added to that moody nature of the song. It also added to the dullness, but I feel like that was a positive for the song, as it allowed Moonbyul and the dancers to be the pure focus of the video. And as a performance video, there is a greater focus on the choreography. And the choreography is quite fitting of the song. The song doesn’t really allow for any impressive moves to come forth, but I really liked the speeds of the moves. It is relatively slow and smooth, but there is a balance that allows it to become powerful. My favourite part has to the bridge of the song, where the dancers become like waves. I thought that was a stunning moment in the entire performance.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Album Review] Gateway (7th Mini Album) – ASTRO

I ended up passing on an album review last Sunday as I was a little busy. So today’s album review was meant to be released on Sunday. And that album is ASTRO’s recent album release, Gateway. The featured track on this album Knock, which I rated quite highly at the time of its release. And even though it has been released 3 weeks ago, I can confirm that the high rating still stands. This album also serves as the return of Moonbin, who was noticeably absent from their previous comeback, Blue Flame. The group did release One & Only between the albums, which did feature Moonbin, but that was no album. Let’s see what album has to offer.

Gateway Album Cover

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

2. When You Call My Name (내 이름을 부를 때)When You Call My Name starts off with a playful tone and features a retro video game-like instrumental, which helps the song develop into a fun number. It reminds me of their earlier works before they adopted this mature sound that we have heard all of last year and through the title track, Knock. If you know me, I really liked textures in my songs. So, the choppy nature of the instrumental, particularly around the chorus was quite enjoyable. The brightness in this song gives it a nice fresh tone and quite upbeat. Their vocals were nice, with MJ’s voice being the most memorable of the group. They were used sparingly during the chorus, which was obviously to direct the attention to the instrumental as that was a centerpiece. But it did mean we didn’t much material from the group. So, I did want more out of the vocals, especially the rappers who were quite forgettable in this song. (8/10)

3. Somebody Like – In comparison to the preceding track, Someday Like is definitely very full. No major choppy instrumentals or sparingly used vocals in this track. Instead, the instrumental falls under the pop domain and feels quite suitable for a nice feel good day. I really like the guitar that is used throughout the song and the funky beat that the chorus features. It is quite energetic and refreshing in a pleasant way. And the group’s vocals bring a nice brightness to the song. I find Somebody Like to be quite catchy, as the hooks were quite memorable. Note how I said there was no ‘major’ choppy instruments at the start. At the very end of the bridge, we are treated to some choppiness in the song. It is quite minute in comparison to an entire song. But it managed to stand out in this song. Talking about the bridge, I thought JinJin’s rapping sequence layered over a trap sequence was another good stand out moment. In comparison to the other songs on the album, it doesn’t feel like the best and hence why the rating is a little less than the higher ranking songs on the album. (8.5/10)

4. We Still – Kicking We Still off is nice piano. This piano piece remains throughout the song, despite synths becoming much more dominant during the chorus. This is something that ASTRO has done before, so unfortunately it isn’t unique in any way. But what I liked about We Still is that it continues that very upbeat and bright feel that the album has been channeling throughout the song thus far. And this allows the song to come off as quite fresh. I find that both the vocals and rapping, despite that latter definitely being a lot more intense then the former, manages to bind the song together quite nice. I was very impressed with both elements and these made the song’s hook quite powerful and memorable. Apart from the title track, I reckon We Still is a strongest effort, even though it took the path of something that the group has done before. (9/10)

5. 12 Hours (12시간) – ASTRO tones it down a fair bit with 12 Hours. It is another pleasant pop R&B track, fitting in with the rest of the album, without the energetic buzz or exciting synths that drive the song forward. Instead, the song features a mellow and soft piano instrumental, accented with various guitars to give the song some small details. Their vocals are quite nice and soothing in this track. The rapping was a bit of a miss for me. I wanted to hear something a little more aligned with the song, but JinJin ended putting too much edge in his section. If Rocky and JinJin made their sections a little more mellow sounding, I think this would be a perfect combination. (7.5/10)

6. Lights On (빛이 돼줄게) – I liked how Lights On started off with. Very soft with the vocals and the ‘Tik Tac Toc’ being a nice accent to that section. JinJin then kicks up the song by bringing in his powerful delivery and rough tone to the song. Unlike in the previous song, it felt appropriate given what was brewing in the background (i.e. the synths that allowed the song to build to the chorus). The chorus of Lights On has the similar aesthetics as the title tracks on their special mini-album releases. If anything, this song’s instrumental is less intense. And the hooks were a lot more typical and boring (aside from that ‘Tik Tac Toc’ detail, which I was glad to hear in the second verse). But still feels the same, in a way. I do note that I feel like I have been a little more critical with the rapping on this album. But I think both Rocky and JinJin shined in Lights On. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

Gateway Teaser Image