[Album Review] The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever (1st Compilation Album) – BTS

Due to the many songs on this album, this post is quite lengthy. You have been warned. 

BTS is undeniably on the very top of the world due to their explosive global popularity. And this popularity grows with every new release. However, I do prefer more of their older releases. One of them has to be the album series that started off cementing their popularity domestically by earning them their first wins in South Korea through the weekly music shows. This album series, The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, is made up of three different releases. The first is Part 1 (their 3rd mini-album, released on April 2015), Part 2 (their 4th mini-album, released on December 2015) and Young Forever (their first compilation album consisting of the songs from the two previous mini-albums, along with 3 others and this was released on April 2016). Let’s have a quick look back on these releases.

The Most Beautiful Moment In Life: Young Forever Album Cover

Disc 1

1..The Most Beautiful Moment in Life (Intro Track) (Intro: 화양연화) – Opening up the compilation album and 3rd mini-album is this introductory track. Suga takes the reins of the track, being the only member to actually be in the track. His rapping is phenomenal. The breathing that fades in tells you to expect something that will blow you away and the breathing that fades out is literally me after listening to the song. A lot of deepness in his lyrics as well. (9/10)

2. I Need U (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for I Need U. (10/10)

3. Hold Me Tight (잡아줘) – Included on their 3rd mini-album, I am sure this type of track would have excited fans and listeners back when it was released in 2015. Listening to now, it seems like a very typical R&B track for BTS. There was a great display of vocals, especially towards the end. Their rapping was toned down to fit the more soothing nature of the instrumentation. I did think that this was a great track to follow up the I Need You title track, as it keeps some of the previous vibes but channelled it through to a slightly slower and paced track. (7.5/10)

4. Autumn Leaves (고엽) – Included on their 4th mini-album, Autumn Leaves was produced by Suga. This comes by no surprise as listening to all the members on the track, Suga fits in perfectly. Apart from Suga, the vocal line sound exceptional in this song. I also like the analogy that is made in this song. The members are like Autumn Leaves when they are trying to hold onto their lover. They do not want to fall but they will eventually. The instrumental was probably the most boring part of the track, as it feels very BTS now. (7/10)

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

7. Ma City – Featured on the 4th mini-album, Ma City was an upbeat addition to really bring up the energy. The tracks that are on the 4th mini-album/this album has been very depressing or serious. So, some light is much appreciated. The song references several Korean cities including Ilsan, Busan, Gwangju, Daegu (which I am sure are the member’s hometowns). The pride they have is showcased effortlessly in this catchy track. As it stood out on its original/this album, I thought the track was quite infectious as well. (8/10)

8. Crow-Tit (뱁새) – One of the standout tracks from the 4th mini-album was Crow-Tit. The track is heavily doused in the hip-hop genre, which I think it totally up BTS alley. I remember not being much a fan of the track for the same reason. Now that I have reviewed several tracks of a similar nature, I see the appealing side of Crow-Tit, just not to the same extent as long-time fans. The energy and its message about double standards for the way the younger generation is perceived are also quite memorable. (7.5/10)

9. Dope (쩔어) – While writing these PARs, I revisit my past reviews to see how my thoughts about the song have changed. While I don’t increase the score of a song that is already ranking quite high, I have decided to make an exception for Dope, which has become one of my favourite BTS songs ever. Therefore, I have changed the 9/10 to 10/10. Click here to read the original review for Dope. (10/10)

The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Part 1 Album Cover

10. Fire (불타오르네) (Title Track) – For similar reasons above, I have decided to increase the original score of 7.5 to a 10. It is Fire. One of BTS’ most iconic tracks to date. Click here to read the original review for Fire. (10/10)

11. Save Me (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Save Me. (9/10)

12. Epilogue: Young Forever – This is one of the new releases featured on the compilation album. It also got a lot of fanfare as it was released as a pre-release track with its own music video. The track is standard for the group, but I think the vocals and raps (one of their best efforts yet) lifts the entire song to a whole new level. Even before pressing play, I can hear the echo of the line ‘Forever, we are young’ in the back of mind, showcasing to me the song’s longevity in my own books. While I never wrote a review for this track, it has continued to blow me away after 3 years. (9.5/10)

(Note Track 5 is a Prologue Version of Butterfly. Due to the length of this post, I have only elected to review the original form of Butterfly.)

Disc 2

1. Converse High – The praises for the shoes in this song is quite high. While the focus should be on the girl wearing the shoes, Converse High does a pretty good job at promoting the footwear instead. The track is a nice song. But to me, it is a step away from their usual stuff as it is quite bright and very neutral. And because of its neutral gearing, I find the track to be quite a bore. Nonetheless, it is still good in some respects but not their best. More of a filler track for me. (7/10)

2. Moving On (이사) – Also featuring on their 3rd mini-album, I find Moving On to be more BTS appropriate and interesting compared to Converse High. I think the track brings out the best of the vocal line. Each vocalist sound so smooth in the track. In conjunction with the melody, I find the song to be very memorable. I also like how nice the instrumental sound. It is soft at times when it is needed to be and gives off a pleasant atmosphere overall. (8/10)

3. Whalien 52 – The song is about a whale who could sing but no other whale could hear its voice. The poor whale becomes lonely, as no other whale wants to be around the one who supposedly can’t sing. Yet, the lonely whale continues to sing until it is heard. Perseverance and persistence, that is the message of this song. And BTS portrays in a nice track. It felt more pop-ish thanks to the upbeat vibes from the instrumental. But other than that, I found the track to be skippable. (7/10)

The Most Beautiful Moment In Life Part 2 Album Cover

4. Butterfly – To me, Butterfly is one of the best ballads that I have ever heard during the many years I have listened to KPOP (I think it might be 10 years or so of KPOP for me, to put it into perspective). There is something so beautiful about this emotional track that makes me come back to the track time and time again, despite it being released 3 years ago. The vocals literally glide along and the rapping fits in perfectly. Maybe it is because BTS is known for their intense songs, that something so fragile managed to stand out from the pack. (10/10)

5. House of Cards – Formerly outro for the 4th mini-album, BTS included the entire track on the compilation album. A dream come true for those who wished that intro and outros should be a full song. Performed by the vocal line, the song opens with a very dramatic feeling. Then comes the singing (which is amazing, once again), which helps builds the suspense that we have already experienced. The song talks about love in a dramatic sense, which matches the song’s initial atmosphere perfectly. (9/10)

6. Love Is Not Over – The final song on the album (apart from the many mixes/remixes featured after this one) is Love Is Not Over, the outro for the 3rd mini-album. Like above, the full version of the R&B track is included instead. Going back to what I have said for some other tracks, this one is rather standard. Both the singing and rapping was pretty good. The melody was quite nice. It just wasn’t a standout track so I didn’t pay much attention to it. (7/10)

Track 7 to 11 are alternate versions of I Need You, Run and Butterfly.

Overall Album Rating – 9.6/10

The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Part 1 Teaser Image

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[Album Review] butterFLY (2nd Studio Album) – Ailee

Returning last week with Room Shaker was Ailee. As mentioned last week, I will be focusing on solo artists this weekend. I have decided to focus on one last solo artist next Thursday (I think you might be able to guess who) before returning next weekend to write album reviews for group releases. But let’s refocus on Ailee, who made her grand return with butterFLY (her second studio album). It has been disappointing to see that Ailee has yet to return to the stage. I don’t have any idea what is going on at the moment between Ailee’s management and the music shows. But hopefully, all misunderstandings are solved soon, so that we can see Ailee return to the stage once again!

butterFLY Album Cover

1..Midnight – Kickstarting off Ailee’s second album is Midnight. The instrumentation does give off an atmosphere like how the stars are twinkling in the night sky during the verses. The chorus manages to kick it up a notch, complimenting Ailee’s vocal push. Apart from the vocals and the instrumentation during the verses, I found the song to be quite plain. But considering it has been some time since we heard Ailee, it might be a nice way to re-familiarise with her vocals without being overwhelmed by a loaded song. (8/10)

2. Want ItWant It brings a groovy instrumental to the album. There is a retro colour (thanks to the brass) to the song, which reminds me of her popular tracks. I think this would be a nice performance to watch as well, especially if there is a retro/disco flair to the stage as well. Her vocals here are, per usual, superb. I had a feeling that she could have gone the extra length with her singing, as there were times where I had the impression she was holding back. But the more I listen to the song, the less of that I think (and the more I want to boogie to the song). (8.5/10)

3. Headlock – Ailee is known for her amazing vocals and if any song was to prove that fact, it would be this one. That is the main driver of the song, with the instrumentation acting as a sidekick. Headlock starts with a clapping beat, which it maintains throughout the entire track as the foundation of the song. The rest of the instrumentation comes later, turning the song into a little funky tune. The best part has to be the punchy effect just before the chorus. But whatever section I am listening to, it also contributed to a spectacular track. (9/10)

4. Room Shaker (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Room Shaker. (9/10)

5. LOVE (ft. Chen from EXO) – Besides Room Shaker, fans are most excited for LOVE. The reason for this excitement is obvious. The track features Chen from EXO, who is known for his vocals (just listen to Beautiful Goodbye if you are not convinced). The track is an R&B ballad that is produced to showcase both artist’s vocals. The instrumental was very elegant and pleasant, which further highlights its potential. Both their voices were beautiful. Though the harmonies were very limited, I did like what was given to us. The flip-side of that comment is that I expected a little more in the harmony/singing together department and the limited nature was a little disappointing. (9/10)

6. Nothing At AllNothing At All is a ballad, just not the type of ballad one would expect given the song’s lyrics. The lyrics tell of the heartbreak that comes when someone is trying to forget a former lover. But listening to the track’s tone, you don’t really get that heartbreaking feeling, thanks to the slightly brighter than usual instrumentation. The piano was repetitive. But I felt that was the blank canvas (same analogy again) that I refer to often, giving way for her vocals to take over the song. On the topic of her vocals, I really like her singing here. It was textured throughout, and her tone made it very interesting. (9/10)

7. You Are Precious Because of Who You Are (그대는 그대라 소중해) – This track (sorry, the title is a tad too long for me to type out) is another ballad. But how the instrumental started off gave me grand and epic vibes, making me look forward to the entirety of the track. And it does not let you down! I like its soothing nature at the start, which reflects well with Ailee’s voice. I also enjoyed the gradual build-up throughout the song, which really made the song even more appealing (the high note at the end was an amazing peak). The song sings about how everyone is unique and that it is perfectly okay to be different, repeating a common message that we hear often nowadays. (9/10)

8. FireFire returns to the more upbeat dance tracks we heard at the start of the album. It is a little unique, given her vocals in this track. I am not exactly a fan of the song, for the same reasons. She does showcase some versatility in her vocal abilities. But I am not a fan of the high-pitched ending to the word Fire which she repeats throughout the song. It gets annoying for me. I did like the pop instrumentation. Though, I was hoping for more attitude as I was led to believe through the start of the song. But sadly, I wasn’t satisfied. (6/10)

9. Ain’t That PrettyAin’t That Pretty is a pretty dynamic track, something I had expected with Fire (based on the title alone). I really like the instrumental for this track, especially the distortion that occurred during the chorus. I also like how she started off with a little raspy tone. The track also tells of hardships that Ailee had experienced so far as an artist. Based on the meaning behind the song, the track sounds a lot fresher than if she went with a cliché ballad. It feels more modern and impactful this way. (8/10)

10. HeartcrusherHeartcrusher is a little surprising as it is entirely in English. I like the Western vibes that come from the EDM based instrumental. Ailee’s voice flourishes in this track, remaining on top of the instrumentation throughout its 3-minute run. The lyrics were very striking, especially the start sounded. My only complaint about this song was that it went by so quickly. Other than that, I end Ailee’s second album on a very dynamic note. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

butterFLY Teaser Image

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[Album Review] True Colors (1st Mini Album) – Yunho (TVXQ)

It has been a long time coming for Yunho, who made his debut in the KPOP industry back in 2003. But on June 12 (exactly one month ago), Yunho made his solo debut with his first solo mini-album. This means that he didn’t get to formally promote a solo album for over 16 years since his debut, which is quite a long time for an established artist like Yunho. The title of the album is True Colors and it features Follow (Yunho’s title track which was also released on the same day), alongside 5 other tracks. Let’s see what I thought the album below!

True Colors Album Cover

1..Follow (Title Track)Click here for the full review for Follow. (7/10)

2. Blue Jeans – Continuing on with the intensity of Follow is Blue Jeans. In fact, I think Blue Jeans does one better, in terms of intensity. I found the instrumental to be unique and interesting. It felt like a club track but there was more to it. A bit of groove, a bit of R&B and a bit of colour. I enjoyed it. But the main showstopper from the track is his vocals. There were moments that almost felt like he was growling and showcasing a wilder side to his normal vocals. While I did have an itching feeling that there was a possible mismatch between the style choices between his vocals and instrumentation, the more I listen to the track the more the feeling is reduced. They somehow effortlessly come together, with the instrumental sounding like it moulded around the vocals very well. (9/10)

3. Swing (ft. BoA)Swing opts for a consistent dance track sound that you could hear while in a club and is a lot more direct (in terms of complexity). There isn’t anything wrong with this, however, as it does serve as a good breather after two very dynamically intense tracks. I really like the pulsing instrumental in Swing, which really drives that dance club factor I mentioned initially. Both Yunho and BoA do a nice job on the vocal front. Interestingly, they don’t push themselves vocally, which keeps the song consistent. Though I am not sure how this song would fair with repetitive listens (i.e. the consistency could really dry up the song). I think a more dynamic dance break following the choruses could have solved this potential issue. Nonetheless, I do think it is a good track and definitely a collaboration I like to see on stage. (8/10)

4. Hit Me Up (불러) (ft. Giriboy) – I am slowly starting to see a pattern in terms of the energy of the songs on the album. The first two songs are intense. The last two songs are on the paced side of the spectrum. This leaves Swing and Hit Me Up situated along the imaginary spectrum set by the albums track list. And I think listening to Hit Me Up confirms this. It is a pop track with very little to offer. I do have some negative comments about it. I felt like the track was hovering in a slightly awkward position. The instrumental didn’t feel like it had a strong backing, which leads to this ‘hovering’ analogy. Yunho’s vocals were weak and Giriboy’s rapping was over excessively laced with autotune. I did, however, think Giriboy’s inserts throughout the song helped build the song but it wasn’t enough to help define it. (6/10)

5. Why (왜)Why is a jazzy style of R&B that sounds so incredibly smooth. Despite the smoothness, there is a bit of texture going on within the song’s instrumental to create a rather aesthetic atmosphere. This makes the song quite appealing, which is expected when it comes to my taste in music. Going back to my comments in Hit Me Up, this is the start of the slower or more paced side of the album. The song doesn’t really pick up, keeping its tempo throughout the 3:45 minute track. Yunho’s vocals were also another appealing point of the track. They were showcased and through his vocals, Yunho managed to put forward a sensual atmosphere, which I think any of his fans would really enjoy. (8/10)

6. Change The World – Ending the album is a ballad. Change The World sings about hope, which was my first thought about the song’s potential direction, as I had gotten it mixed up with the classic Heal The World. It stresses the message that we are all equal and can make a change in the world. It is a good ballad with an important message that does a nice job of putting Yunho’s vocals forward. I like how it progressed, with Yunho starting alone and everyone coming in together towards the end. It wraps the song up nicely and the album, as well. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.6/10

True Colors Teaser Image

[Album Review] Pink Tape (2nd Studio Album) – F(x)

Due to the number of songs on the album, the album review will be quite long. 

F(x) is probably one of the groups that KPOP fans want to see return to the stage. Their last release was with All Night back in 2016, so a comeback is definitely long overdue. To mildly fulfil my hunger for another F(x) comeback,, I have decided to write an album review for F(x) as part of the Past Album Review (PARs) segment. Pink Tape is the group’s 2nd studio album and was released in 2013. It features Rum Pum Pum Pum as its title track, which I absolutely hated back in 2013. Have my thoughts changed? You will see below!

Pink Tape Album Cover

1..Rum Pum Pum Pum (첫 사랑니) (Title Track)Rum Pum Pum Pum is an example of a track that I started to enjoy way after reviewing it. I think it took a few years for it officially warm up to me. It ended up being addictive for a while and I really like the cute sound that came off it. Now, to me, it is just a showing of another side of the extremely versatile F(x). However, it is definitely no Electric Shock or Red Light. So, I decided to up my review score for the title track from the low 3 to a 7. Click here to read my original thoughts of Rum Pum Pum Pum. (7/10)

2. Shadow (미행 (그림자)) – Probably the biggest miss opportunity of the entire industry is not promoting this track in any way. Shadow has to be one of the most unique tracks in KPOP. I have to admit; the song was rather weird at first. But once you get past that hurdle, Shadow is just a creepy yet cutesy track. How so? Well, the lyrics revolve around them being their lover’s shadow (i.e. being with them all the time). However, the song is presented to us with a cutesy tone (i.e. the higher pitch vocals, delicate voices and the music box based instrumental. Sure, it isn’t 100% terrifying. But the song makes you imagine flowers and smiles but the lyrics manage to make those imaginary objects very twisted. (10/10)

3. Pretty GirlPretty Girl isn’t the prettiest track that I have come across. Once again, F(x) strays away from expectation, going for the least pretty genre of music out there, rock. Besides that, I felt that Pretty Girl wasn’t pretty in the ‘neat sense’, as well. I found the rock elements in the instrumental to be too overpowering, as the members during the chorus were being drowned out and they had to push themselves to be heard. I did like the vocal work (minus that last point), the rapping and the melody, so it wasn’t a terrible track. Maybe it could have been a little more polished to be more appealing. (7/10)

4. Kick – I think Kick falls under the same trap that Pretty Girl did. While it doesn’t overpower the vocals, Kick’s jerky instrumentation just felt like it was too much. And this makes the song feel quite uncomfortable. It does manage to pack a punch, which I guess is an advantage of a loaded track like this. I did like the effects the way the song infused a bit of choppiness to the track during the bridge, as it complements the style choices from the rest of the song. I just think Kick should have found a way to pack a punch but in a manner that was a little more toned down, so we could enjoy it more. (6.5/10)

5. Signal – The instrumental for Signal has the potential to be a pop diva-like song. There is that Kylie Minogue or Madonna type vibe that comes from the verses. But it doesn’t stay for long, as the chorus seems to opt for a typical pop approach and loses this diva feel, which I am disappointed with. However, there is a little disco groove to the track, which I think the chorus ends up turning to. So, it isn’t all bad news for the track. I just still think the track would have been more appealing if they kept with the diva-like sound, as I think this would potentially be an undiscovered territory for the group. I was lowkey expecting a rap sequence within the track, which could have lifted this song to another level. But overall, it is still a good song. (7.5/10)

6. StepStep is a groovy track. I find it to be quite fun and has a nice club vibe to it. It just a few steps away from falling into the infectious category. To me, most colour came from the instrumentation. It is repetitive but done in a way that reminds me of any trendy ‘one hit wonders’ that we have come across in the KPOP industry. I am glad that it didn’t become of those tracks as I would think the song would get annoying with multiple listens. Currently, it is catchy to an extent. Vocally, I felt the song was on the weaker side. Only Luna shined for me and that only occurred towards the end of the track. But Step does a good job of continuing the upbeat vibes on this album. (7/10)

7. Goodbye Summer (Amber, Luna & Krystal ft. D.O (EXO)) – Sadly, I didn’t get into the song until after I heard the English version sung by Amber and Eric Nam. Now, it is one of my favourite summery pop ballads ever. The vocals are probably one of the selling points of the track. Firstly, the song features D.O from EXO, whom at the time was part of the leading boy group of the industry. So, the track got a lot of fanfare. Secondly, his vocals blend extremely well with Luna and Krystal, which upped the fanfare even more. You would think rapping wouldn’t necessarily fit into the breezy track but it somehow effortlessly did, making Amber’s rap memorable. Thirdly, the track was rather pleasant and refreshing, so it eased well into my playlist. (10/10)

8. Airplane – Somewhere on this blog, I am 100% sure I have reviewed Airplane (twice). But it won’t be a complete album review if I simply just bypassed the track. Especially since it is one of my favourite songs off this album. In hindsight, the track nowadays would be considered very straightforward, simply because it doesn’t deviate much from its starting sound. Back then, I thought the track was ingenious. The choppy start of the chorus (‘Come With Me. Airplane, Love’) was quite dynamic and ended up being on the catchiest hooks of the song. There is also a subtle fun tone to the track that I find very appealing. Despite it using an electronic instrumental, the song is rather light as well, meaning it was quite pleasant. The vocals and were simple and easy to follow, making this a catchy tune to hum along to. (10/10)

9. ToyToy isn’t as playful as you expect. Instead, it managed to be very intense and straight forward, matching the lyrics of the track (the members liken their lives to toys, which have a set appearance, always belong to and assumingly miss their owner). I think a better way to describe the track is that it is similar to a stereotypical rock track. Just without the rock elements. Another cool aspect is the classical and EDM mashed up instrumental break. I felt it just went a little longer than what I had anticipated and this didn’t allow the ‘return to the chorus’ to be as dynamic as it should have been. (8/10)

10. No More (여우 같은 내 친구) – The song’s music profile isn’t as interesting and felt more like a typical pop track. So, I won’t discuss it. Instead, I found the lyrics to be the most interesting aspect of the track. The girls sing about their female friend, someone who changes her personality depending on the guy who she is dating (e.g. she is an atheist but ‘becomes religious’ to be with her church oppa). Hence, she is described to be similar to a sly fox. For the most part, it makes fun of their friend. But the members do feel a little sympathy for her when they find her crying over her breakup. My favourite part has to be when they ask her ‘Have you found another guy yet?’, which makes for a perfect transition lyrics-wise to their original lyrics that dominated the earlier parts of the song. (7/10)

11. Snapshot – This had to be the poshest introduction to a song, courtesy of Amber herself. I thought the song a weird mix after that (a common trend back when the album was released). The verses felt like it was a song from a musical. However, the choruses felt like it was taking a hip-hop infused pop sequence instead, losing that unique musical-like sound. They managed to integrate the two sounds together well as the transition points didn’t sound awkward or too apparent. But when you consider the entire track as a whole, it just doesn’t sound right, if you understand what I mean. (7/10)

12. Ending Page – Surprisingly, I think Ending Page is their most neutral track on the album. The rock ballad doesn’t really develop as it progresses, which is a little disappointing. It isn’t overloaded with too much of one element, striking a very fine balance in any aspect that you can think of. The rock instrumental isn’t overpowering or overwhelming. This, along with the lack of development, allows for the focus to be squarely on the vocals. It doesn’t rely on powerful vocals to be track’s main driver. Instead, the song’s melody is extremely nice, and I find this to be a pleasant ending for the entire album. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

Pink Tape Teaser Image

[Album Review] Flourishing (4th Mini Album) – Chungha

The second solo artist that I will be reviewing in a series is Chungha (as you can tell by the title of this post). We all know Chungha for her many addictive title tracks, with Snapping being the latest to join the ranks as well. But this is the first time I am going to have a closer look at one of her albums. Flourishing is the solo artist’s fourth mini-album to date. For those who do not know, I have used this weekend and will be using next weekend to look at albums from a few solo artists. But before we get to next weekend, we must dive deeper into Chungha’s album!

Flourishing Album Cover

1..Chica – The first song of the album is Chica, a song all about empowerment. Matching the strengthening power of the lyrics is the song’s very powerful island instrumental. While it is a style done before, Chungha’s take on it is quite refreshing and feels almost new. There are many aspects of the track that I thoroughly enjoyed. The first is the song’s upbeat energy. I find the track fitting for the Summer season and I can really imagine a really good dance routine in my mind. The second aspect must be its catchiness. The song may not be intended for a guy like me. But I really like its tone and melody, making it a good start to the album. The third aspect is Chungha’s vocals. As I have mentioned it before, she keeps building her abilities with every release. And this is true for this track. (9/10)

2. Young In Love (우리가 즐거워)Young in Love, also titled as We Have Fun, is less intense than its preceding track. And like Chungha’s personality, the track is very easy-going and pleasant. I am not too into the track because I do like Chungha’s more edgy and impactful side, which she constantly shows throughout her title track releases. But Young In Love manages to encapsulate Chungha’s more delicate and softer side in a well-presented track. I really like the dance break we got during the bridge of the track, bring the pleasant sound a little more energy at the end. Her vocals were also nice and I like how she harmonised with the backing vocals towards the end of the track. (7/10)

3. Call It Love – While I understand that artists can be versatile with the music they release, I never took Chungha to be the ballad type. Call It Love doesn’t persuade me otherwise, unfortunately. She has made her name using dance tracks, so this is unfamiliar territory for me as a listener. I will admit that Chungha has a nice voice, as showcased elsewhere in the album. I just think the very traditionally instrumented ballad of a slow nature just doesn’t really showcase Chungha’s vocals all that well. It wasn’t awkward or terrible. The track just came off as bland and boring, to me. Maybe next time she can convince me otherwise. (6/10)

4. FlourishingFlourishing is the surprising track on the album. Not that it goes a certain route or that it contains a unique element. But rather, the song is fully in English. This has been done before by other artists, but no artist has never been positioned a full English track ahead of the title track before. I am not sure what the intention of the position is meant to be. But I thought it was wise as it felt like a tame version of Snapping. It contains a hip-hop vibe that felt like it was carried over to the title track. Her vocals are nice and they are the element that keeps the song from being repetitive. The instrumental, however, felt very dry, repetitive and bland, which was a disappointment. I expected it to pick up and really flourish. But it didn’t do that whatsoever. (7/10)

5. Snapping (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Snapping. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

Flourishing Teaser Image

[Album Review] Muse (2nd Mini Album) – Leo (VIXX)

Since we are back on schedule, there will be two album reviews coming out this weekend. Both album reviews will be focusing on solo releases that have occurred recently. And it might extend to the album reviews in the next week (so I guess you can start guessing who these albums might belong to).  Today’s album review will be for Leo’s recent comeback. The main vocalist of VIXX returned with Romanticism a few weeks back, which is featured on Muse, Leo’s second mini-album to date. 

Muse Album Cover

1..Romanticism (로맨티시즘) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Romanticism. (7/10)

2. Things About To Happen (다가오는 것들) (ft. Choiza of Dynamic Duo) – One of the elements I really liked about this very emotionally charged track is the minimalistic instrumentation. It is like the blank canvas analogy that I sometimes use to describe a track. However, there are accents within the instrumental that makes the song so much more impactful and bone-chilling. Despite the extra addition to helping boost the impact potential of the track, the main strokes that make art on the blank canvas are Leo’s voice. There is no doubt about it. His singing in this track is filled with emotion, which makes the track feel so captivating. I am not too familiar with Choiza (from Dynamic Duo) but his rapping really fitted in well and added to that serious atmosphere the song has oozing from the track. (10/10)

3. Nostalgia (향수병) – As Leo is the main vocalist, it was inevitable that a ballad or two would be included on the album, even if he went with another R&B track as his title track. Nostalgia talks about the uneasiness that arises from a good memory that comes from a former relationship. He doesn’t want to remember it. But at the same time, he is afraid he will forget this memory. I am sure many people can relate to this dilemma. Per usual, it is a heartbreaking song. But that is one of Leo’s fortes. His voice suits these emotion-heavy tracks, so he is in his element. His raspy vocals does wonders in the track. I like how the classical instrumental adds to the heartbreaking feelings he portrays and I often find them coming in at the right moment. Even though it is a slow ballad (which isn’t often my ballad style of choice), Leo enchants once again. (9.5/10)

4. Tight (타이트해) – Leo changes things up with Tight. It isn’t another ballad. Instead, Tight is a smooth and sensual dance track. And while it is nice for a change, Tight wouldn’t be the first thing that comes into mind (given the nature of the lyrics). But it is still a good song. His voice lends well for this R&B style as well, which I think is what he enjoys more. There are a number of moments that grab my attention. The first is the pre-chorus. I really liked that sudden brief pause before going onto a small tone change that still manages to fit into the rest of the song. As the chorus was more sensual and doesn’t have a drop, this pre-chorus really built up momentum. The chorus contains whispers that I think fit the nature of the track, pushing whoever Leo (or the writer) had in mind onwards (you can decipher the meaning of that sentence). The most awkward moment comes from the chorus as well, in the form of ‘La La La be dab’. I want to know what the meaning of this is. (8/10)

5. Muse – Unlike the other tracks, Muse is not emotionally centred. This provides us with a chance to breathe from the heartbreaking or sensual emotions that have been the main focus of the album thus far. However, I find Muse charged in a vocal sense, as Leo’s voice does manage to shine brightly in this track. He pairs well with the slow rock ballad nature of the song, which ends up showing us another side of the artist that I would love to hear more from. Apart from Leo’s voice, I liked the ballad start and end of the track. By completing the song with how it started, it felt like the track completed a full circle and hence providing us with a very satisfying feeling (as if you are full) once the song ended. (8/10)

6. The Flower (Pre-Release Single) (ft. Maximilian Hecker) – The album ends with a ballad collaboration with Leo and Maximilian Hecker, who is known for his dream pop music (according to Wikipedia). I find that Leo’s voice isn’t showcased as well as his previous track. But instead of the vocals, it is the stunning instrumental that is showcased. I find that Leo’s voice is on the softer side, complimenting the soothing and calming nature of the predominately piano instrumental. But I think the winning moment must be when Leo passed the vocal baton over to Maximillian Hecker. Both their voices sound alike, and I honestly thought Leo was still singing (just in English). Overall, I thought the track was a nice end to the album. It was as if it was leading us to prolonged sleep so that when we wake up once again, Leo would have returned with another album. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

Muse Teaser Image

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[Album Review] Sweet Girl (6th Mini Album) – B1A4

Today, we restart the Past Album Review (PARs) segment. I know I said I would restart it in June. But my assignments got extended, exams were demanding and the catch-up reviews was quite intensive (which is still ongoing). Starting off this re-launch of B1A4. There is no particular reason to why  I am starting off with B1A4, other than they were the next group to complete a PARs for before I dropped the segment. I did pick Sweet Girl (released in August of 2015), as it contained 2 of their b-side tracks that I most familiar with. So before I somehow end up delaying it a third time, this is my review of B1A4’s Sweet Girl mini-album.

Sweet Girl Album Cover

1..Sweet Girl (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Sweet Girl. (7/10)

2. You Are A Girl I Am A Boy – ‘Girls and Boys cannot be friends’. While my opinion doesn’t matter regarding this statement, B1A4 made a whole song about how the validity of this statement. With the meaning of the lyrics out of the way, let’s turn to the actual music. It earns a big tick from me. It takes a pop-rock form and I thought the energy they put into it (and what we got out) made it memorable. It is definitely a Summer tune, with a very upbeat instrumental and B1A4’s well-known youthful charms making it into the track. I think the vocal and rapping work in this track is pretty good. It isn’t the strongest display of technique. But the balance they managed to strike to compliment the upbeat nature of the song was spot on. (8/10)

3. After 10 Years (10년 후) – Somewhere on this site, within the many posts from the last 8 years or so that I have been writing on this blog, I have stated my praises for After 10 Years. And it is definitely worth revisiting as it is my most favourite b-side track from B1A4. Firstly, it is the vocals and rapping. Each member brings a very different dynamic to the track but they managed to fuse together so nicely. The harmonies make this track sound so heartbreaking. The way Jinyoung started off the track was amazing. Baro’s rapping was so striking. Secondly, the melody stayed in my mind and helped make it memorable. And finally, I found the instrumental to be just perfect. It leant more to the ballad side but there were some rock elements in there, which I fondly enjoyed. And after all these years, as soon as this track finishes, I wanted to press replay to listen to it all over again. (10/10)

4. Wait – We don’t often get to hear Baro sing, as far as I know. So, to hear him open up Wait was a genuine surprise back then (and it still does). But it makes absolute sense, given the song is a ballad. The entire track is quite slow and paced nicely. So, there isn’t really any room for any rap tempo. And with such a ballad, we get to hear the purest form of their vocals (without listening to them live in concert). The other four members each sounded spectacular alongside a beautiful melody, showing off their vocal talents once again. It is another heartbreaking song, with a harmonica centrepiece. This time around, however, they are waiting for their lover to appear once again. (8/10)

5. Love Is MagicLove Is Magic is a jazzy R&B number that sounds quite pleasant. Once again, it is a nice display of vocals and rapping, which I think might be a recurring theme in this album. And while the vocals do sound amazing, with the members managing to go an extra step with falsettos, harmonies and other techniques, I must point out that the song contains a fair amount of rapping. I am not complaining as I found the rapping to fit in nicely with the jazzy side of the track. An odd combination but it manages to work. But while the elements were good, it didn’t necessarily make the track memorable. It isn’t my style, so I think I glossed over the track back when it was released, and I still want to gloss over it now. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

Sweet Girl Teaser Images

[Album Review] RPM (7th Mini Album) – SF9

This will be the last weekend completely full of album reviews, which has been occurring for the past two weeks or so. I will be reverting to the usual timetable for album reviews (publishing every Sunday and Friday for new albums, and Tuesday for older albums starting this week). And to end this album review rush is SF9’s 7th mini-album, which features the title track RPM. Bound to give you a rush of energy and intensity, let’s see how the rest of the mini-album faired.

RPM Album Cover

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

2. Round and Round (돌고 돌아) – If I was to follow how I have always written my review, Round and Round is a ‘standard’ pop track. And truthfully, there isn’t anything mind-blowing or new regarding the track that sets it apart from the rest of the other pop tracks we listen to daily. But I dislike the use of the term ‘standard’, as that can give off the impression that the song is boring. It isn’t. Despite its typical approach, I found the track to have some good energy, smooth vocals, neat rap sequences and catchy melodies. Furthermore, the instrumental was quite soothing and calming in moments, despite it still being a heavy dance track. Combining it all together and you get a standout combination. (9/10)

3. Dreamer – I have described many songs as dramatic in the past. But I think we have a new leader in the dramatic song category. The song starts off like an adventure film’s soundtrack. Knowing it is SF9, however, the instrumental will turn towards synths and dance-based sounds. But they do maintain that dramatic nature, which makes this song sound very epic and grand. I thought the vocals were nice, but the rapping comes out on top as the most likeable element. Mainly because the instrumental and the rapping combined together forms an intensity powerhouse. And I enjoyed the continuous build-up that the song featured, allowing the ending to be very powerful. (8.5/10)

4. Liar – Note that this song was the final song I wrote about, as I didn’t have much to say initially when I was writing the review in order. By seeing how dramatic Dreamer and epic See U Tomorrow surrounds this track, I find Liar to be a suitable middle-man that bridges the two together. The song starts off slow and you can sense the rough EDM creeping into the track. But I like despite it transforming into a dance track, it maintains its pace and doesn’t become saturated with synths that just fly through. Once again, the rapping stands out, adding intensity and texture. But also adding a smooth texture of the song are the vocals, which I think were nice. The bridge is my favourite vocal section of the track, along with the ‘Beautiful Liar’ repetition during the chorus. Overall, another nice track. (9/10)

5. See U Tomorrow – If I described Dreamer as dramatic, then See U Tomorrow is epic. This is thanks to the instrumental, which is a mixture of electronic and classical. Several artists have successfully pulled off this combination in the past, but I think SF9 played it smart by matching up this mixed instrumental to their vocals and rapping. Kicking off the song are polished harmonies that put the track in the pop genre. They revisit the harmonies during the chorus, which I think allows the track to become a full circle. The rapping in this track is amazing, giving the song more of those epic vibes and intensity. But the best part, overall, has to be the energy-intensive EDM dance break, as they were the most epic sounding sections of the entire song (and definitely going to be scene-stealing moments when performed in concert). (9/10)

6. EchoEcho manages to mash up SF9’s electronic dance side and an acoustic sound. But unlike See U Tomorrow (where the two different genres are incorporated together), Echo manages to keep the two sounds separate and don’t really have much fusion going on. And I think it sounds amazing this way, as well. You can hear the two genres without interference and get a sense of how they would handle them separately. I find that the acoustics allowed them to focus more on their natural voices before the chorus kicks up the energy with the intense EDM sound. And I find this song to be a great closer to another amazing album from the group. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

RPM Teaser Image

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[Album Review] The ReVe Festival: Day 1 (6th Mini Album) – Red Velvet

Zimzalabim zim-zimzalabim Zim-zimzalabim zim-zim~

If anyone knows how to remove catchy song lyrics from a person’s mind, could you please let me know. It has been one week and I still cannot get it out of my head. While I work on that, let’s focus on their new mini-album, titled The ReVe Festival: Day 1 (which is also the start of a new trilogy). Eagle-eyed fans have noticed that the album cover for this release (shown below) features the concepts from all Red Velvet’s past title tracks, such as a conveyor belt from Dumb Dumb; the colourful landscape, wardrobe and creature from Rookie; a fruity Ferris wheel representing Red Flavour; the wolf’s head from RBB (just to name a few), leading fans to speculate that this new trilogy may be a blend of their Red and Velvet concepts.

The ReVe Festival: Day 1 Album Cover

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

2. Sunny Side Up – One of my original comments that I ended up scrapping from the Zimzalabim review is that the vocal bridge was like a throwback to their Velvet side. But listening to Sunny Side Up, it feels like this R&B styled track could be the actual throwback to the Velvet side. While the title does resemble something we expect from the Red side of the group, the track engages smooth vocals and melodies, which make it extremely pleasant to listen to. I also think there is a reggae-influence in the track, though I am not entirely sure. It is extremely subtle and not as explicit as other Summer tracks. I also believe more rapping could have transformed the track, as I did want something more towards the end to accompany the cool rap sequence we got in the first verse. (8/10)

3. Milkshake – The way Milkshake started almost felt like the song was going to be a retro explosion. But instead, the track remained on the R&B side. I found the track to be groovy and upbeat (but with a sense of style and class). An applause must be given to the vocals for this track, which really made the song stand out for me. It isn’t their most impressive work. But accompanied alongside the instrumental, the vocals do hold up the track a fair bit. I am on the fence regarding the rapping, however. It felt like it went in a cutesy direction, which I wasn’t that fond about. The intro was revisited a number of times as a post-chorus hook and they actually fitted in quite well, given the boundaries of the track had now been provided. (9/10)

4. Bing Bing (친구가 아냐) – My pick for best track on this album is Bing Bing. We get a little more energy with this track, departing from the previous R&B theme. Repetition is the major technique used that keeps me (and other listeners) hooked onto this song. However, I can see the repetition technique being a barrier, preventing some people from enjoying the track, as it could result in blandness and uneventful sound. But I find their vocals bring in colour and personality to the track. The vocals are outstanding, particularly as we get to the end of the song. And the repetition makes the track so much catchier and more memorable, in an aesthetic way. I also like the continuous build-up that is enabled in this track, bringing the track to a climatic ending. (9/10)

5. Parade (안녕, 여름)Parade has this fun sound to it and contains a fair bit of colour that makes it fit in with Red Velvet’s sound. And the energy does provide a youthful touch to it, which I enjoyed. But I can’t really pinpoint the parade in Parade. It sounds more like a playful playground tune, which results in the song going down a more childish route as it progressed. The dings featured in the background reminds me of bicycle bells, for example. I think the best moments of the track is when the members come and sing together. It hides some of that childish sound. The vocals were nice. It is just disappointing that the song didn’t fit my expectations, as it felt like it had a lot of potential. (7/10)

6. LPLP kicks off with some elevator music (and I think the tune is maintained throughout the track). But the overall song featured a slightly faster tempo, making the elevator music less elevator music (and draining). So overall, I think it is a solid track. I did like other sections of the song as well, such as the saxophone solo for the bridge and use of brass to give the track some character. I thought the vocals were good. Once again, not as impressive. But given how it seemed like they were working with elevator music as its backbone, I can’t blame for not bringing out the vocal guns. But despite that, the vocals manage to bring some hooks to the space and definitely making this track stand out a little more. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

The ReVe Festival: Day 1 Teaser Image

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[Album Review] Clé 2: Yellow Wood (1st Special Album) – Stray Kids

Today’s album review will be focusing on Stray Kids’ latest release. As you can tell by the title of the post, this isn’t the traditional album release from Stray Kids, like in past comebacks. Apart from three new songs (which includes their latest title track, Side Effects), the album also compiles their 4 past mixtape tracks, which were previously only found on the physical version of each of their 4 past mini-albums. Usually, I do not review these mixtape tracks. But as this is a special album, I have decided to make an exception.

Clé 2: Yellow Wood Album Cover

1..Road Not Taken (밟힌 적 없는 길) – Kickstarting Yellow Wood is an introductory track that throws you into the deep end, with the song featuring a very energetic and robust electronic dance instrumental. Interestingly, we do not get that same level of energy that comes from the vocals or raps. But the seriousness in their voices reminds us that they are not here to mess around with. And I think this contrast is spectacular, matching the inspirational nature of the lyrics. I really like the drop, foreshadowing the exact same glitchy effect in the title track. It is rather disappointing that it was a short one, as I would love to hear a full track out of it. (9/10)

2. Side Effects (부작용) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Side Effects. (10/10)

3. TMT (별생각) – The third new track on this mini-album is TMT. The first thing I noticed about the track is that it takes a more ordinary approach, compared to the previous two tracks. It relies less on theatrics and a dramatic instrumental, refocusing on the vocals and rapping techniques of the group (which I did enjoy). With this more ordinary and less intense approach, the track feels like a potential GOT7 title track, especially after the release of Eclipse. I really like whiney synth in the background of the chorus, giving the song a memorable sound. It is not necessarily a stand out track from the group but it still contains a kick that I enjoyed. (8/10)

4. Mixtape #1Mixtape #1 (originally from their first mini-album, I Am Not) is a standard track, structure wise. It is surprising to hear such a pleasant sound from the group, which is very different from what we are used from Stray Kids. It showcases the vocals of the group, which I think was very nice, especially in an album that features District 9 (which was loaded with raps and intensity from memory) as its title track. Mixtape #1 talks about self-deception into thinking that you got everything under control to achieve what you want later. Overall, a nice track. (8/10)

5. Mixtape #2Mixtape #2 featured on the group’s second mini-album, I Am Who. The track features acoustic guitars, miles away from the dance tracks that Stray Kids have presented us. It focuses purely on vocals, with the rappers even opting for a more melodic form of rapping for the track. The lyrics focus on the bonds created between the members of the group and the bond formed between Stray Kids and Stays (their fan club), along with how they will not give up. I find them all singing at the end to be a very impactful moment, given the message of the track. Soothing and peaceful, a stand out track that I can’t believe I opted to miss out on when I reviewed I Am Who. (9/10)

6. Mixtape #3 – I know these songs are probably not connected in any way. But Mixtape #3 takes the acoustic nature from Mixtape #2 and redefines it into an upbeat sound. Once again, it is vocally driven. But I find the rapping in this track to be impactful and attention-grabbing, emerging as a strong component. But ruling the track has to be the beautiful sounding melodies. I also like how it doesn’t necessarily feature the members singing together but you can feel their presence as a group at the end of the track. (8/10)

7. Mixtape #4 – Featured on the group’s fourth mini-album (Clé 1: Miroh), this is the style I had expected more when it comes to the term ‘mixtape’. The track is more intense than any of the other mixtapes on this album and it feels more aligned with the title tracks we have heard thus far. The track talks about pushing forward regardless of any troubles. The rapping is more dominant, which is a nice change up to line-up. The vocals were good, but I felt like they were a little weaker, especially around the chorus. But still good, overall. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

Clé 2: Yellow Wood Teaser Image

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[Album Review] DEAR N9NE (9th Mini Album) – Teen Top

This whole weekend will be dedicated to reviews. Songs and albums, I am stockpiling them for future releases! While it is not the weekend yet, to make sure things fit in as planned, we will be kicking off with an album review today! Teen Top made their comeback a few weeks back with Run Away, which was the title track off their 9th mini-album, DEAR N9NE. I am not a major fan of Teen Top when it comes to their b-side tracks. But one brief listens to the album got me interested in writing an album review.

DEAR N9NE Album Cover

1..Run Away (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Run Away. (6/10)

2. Your Man – There are many different genres of music that I enjoy. But what has me coming back to KPOP time and time again must be the way energy is presented. And the best energy comes from very addictive and catchy tracks, such as Your Man. IThe track kicks things off with such a good impression, it forces me to dive in more (hence the album review). I think the upbeat party-like dance nature was very well done, complimenting both the vocal and rapping work by the members. The chorus was just so-in-your-face that I couldn’t help but enjoy it. Your Man is also quite loud, and I think Teen Top is the best when they are ‘loud’, especially if we are looking at tracks such as Going Crazy and Rocking (which is still my personal favourite from the group). (9/10)

3. SwagSwag takes the momentum that Your Man left us with and transformed it into a classy song. To me, this style is very Teen Top. It is also another very catchy track filled with very cool and ear-catching hooks that really draw my attention to the track. The emphasis on the word ‘Swag’ during the chorus, the post-chorus kick, the Gimme Gimme that…’ bridge and the very familiar Uptown Funk vibes that came off the instrumental made the track so enjoyable. Once again, singing and rapping were quite good. Another great track that gives off very satisfying energy that makes you want more. (9/10)

4. What Do You Think – Once again, What Do You Think continues the upbeat energy from the previous tracks. But this one ended up feeling lacking, which sets it apart from the other tracks that we have gotten thus far on the album. I felt the song missed out on some potential punchy moments, which they could have delivered with some more bass. The squeaky horns did add some colour and character to the track but there wasn’t really anything else to make this song develop (i.e. another track that felt a little too consistent for my liking). The vocals and raps were good. But they didn’t have an impressive nature to them, as the previous track did. (7/10)

5. That Night (비 그친 밤) – Changing from the upbeat and dance-centred nature of the album is That Night, which opts for a slower and calmer R&B track. Like Swag, I find the track to be quite elegant and classy. In many ways, I find it to be a polished track. The instrumental was nice and felt relaxing to an extent. While the instrumental here was quite typical and consistent as well, it paired well with the smooth vocals and rapping. These components felt well handled by the group and I felt like they managed to make up for that ordinary sounding instrumental. But still enjoyed the vibe that came from it. (7.5/10)

6. Happy EndingHappy Ending serves as the ballad of the album. It too departs from the upbeat nature featured throughout the first number of songs on the album, opting for a very calming and soothing sound and instrumentation. I think the first impression regarding the track is that is much simpler. But as I have stated many times on the website, simple might be a good thing. In Happy Ending’s case, simple allows for a beautiful melody to be present and a nice showcase of vocals and rapping. If you are expecting anything intense or powerhouse vocals, this isn’t the track for you. But if you want a calming track that ends an album full of energy, then this one is for you. (8/10)

Overall Album Review – 7.8/10

DEAR N9NE Teaser Image

[Album Review] For The Summer (1st Special Album) – WJSN

South Korea (and the Northern Hemisphere) have already kicked off Summer with a number of Summery time comebacks, filled with bright energy and catchy hooks that make any KPOP fan want to party and dance to. One of the more successful acts of the 2019 Summer thus far is WJSN, who returned with Boogie Up back in May. The group has topped charts including MCountDown, SBS The Show and Show Champion with the very infectious and addictive song. Today, we will have a look at what WJSN has accompanying Boogie Up on their album.

For The Summer Album Cover

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

2. Oh My Summer (눈부셔)Oh My Summer is a nice pop song that gets you in the mood for the Summer season. I find the slight retro approach in this instrumental to be quite fun. I find the pace of the track to be quite interesting. There is nice energy level in the track and it is a track fitting for the Summer season. Other positive aspects of the track are that it is catchy and an addictive song. Both the vocals and rapping were pretty good, as well. If there were any negative aspects in the track, the positive aspects outweigh them, meaning WJSN delivered another good track in the form of Oh My Summer. (8.5/10)

3. My Type – Kicking the energy to a higher notch is My Type. It is another pop track that has a very bright and vibrant sound. I like how straight forward the song. It doesn’t mess around and gets straight to the point with its sound. The chorus does have the potential to be an amazing hook. But I feel like the melody was a little lacking, as it didn’t reel me as I had expected from such a bright song. I did think Yeonjung’s vocals were nice, in the chorus. But the highlights of the track have to be Exy’s rapping and that outro segment at the end, which provides a beach party-like atmosphere. (8/10)

4. Let’s Dance (우리끼리) – If you are looking for a song to put on speaker, this is probably the one. The synths used in the track seems to conform to the electronic genres that we get more typically nowadays. There is also some attitude to the song as a result, which I am totally enjoying. The addition of saxophones was very nice and gave the instrumental a party/club sound, which resulted in it in being fun and less serious. Though, if I was honest, I think the saxophone could have had a solo or been slightly louder to really add to that party feel. The vocals were nice and I like the rap opening, which I don’t think WJSN does much of. I can imagine an awesome dance routine to it, increasing my expectations for the track even further. (9/10)

5. Sugar Pop Sugar Pop is exactly like how its title portrays it to be. It is a sweet upbeat pop track that has an infectious energy that you cannot help but be addicted to. It is another good to put on blast due to its almost explosive chorus nature. While I find the song to be very catchy and very suitable for an album full of energy, there is a section that I particularly love. The pre-chorus reminded me Bohemian Rhapsody and I thought this was a very cool effect to have in the song of a sweet nature. The vocals and raps, once again as superb. Yeonjung’s high note came out of nowhere and it also stole the show. Overall, another great song. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

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[Album Review] Raise Us (2nd Mini Album) – ONEUS

It is another weekend full of album reviews. We started with ONEWE yesterday to wrap up my two days of band focus. And today, I thought we return to look at their brother group’s latest album. For those who don’t know, ONEUS and ONEWE are newly debuted boy groups from RBW Entertainment and they are referred to as brother groups (which seems the case for some of the members split across the two groups, as I have recently found out). ONEUS recently returned back in May with Raise Us, their second mini-album, which features the title track, Twilight.

Raise Us Album Cover

1. Time (Intro Track) – Starting off the album is Time. While I don’t usually listen to intro track for the purpose of an album review, this one is one of the few occasions where vocals are included, so I placed it onto the review list anyway. While this doesn’t kick the song off in an upbeat or energetic manner, the almost 2-minutes introductory track had a very elegant sound and smooth tone to it. I like the focus on the vocals, which were superb here. My favourite part has to be Leedo’s vocals. His rough voice shined the brightest in this song, contrasting well with whoever was singing alongside him at the time. (8/10)

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

3. English Girl – To me, English Girl is ONEUS’ answer to a Summer track. All the elements just scream the hot season and the track is a refreshing reply to that scream. The song is for international fans, where the guys admit that their English skills aren’t that great but there are always other ways to communicate and express feelings. While I find that to be very considerate of the group (i.e. to consider their international fans), I am going to be straight forward with another aspect of the track. The use of English has exponentially grown over the years. So to hear poor pronunciation is a little disappointing from an international fan’s standpoint. I don’t think it is necessarily a major issue to actually impact the score but I think given how far KPOP has come, the proper pronunciation would have been an expectation. (8/10)

4. BingBing (개와 늑대의 시간) – Personally, I find BingBing to have very memorable instrumental. That is thanks to the whistling (or flute instrument) that starts off the song and features in the post-chorus instrumental breaks. The rest of the track falls into a mainstream category, which doesn’t sound like it that impressive overall. However, I did like the track a fair bit. I really liked the melody of the track, especially during the chorus. The vocals and rapping were also superb in this track. While it is a dance track, I don’t find it heavy or loaded, which is a nice change. There is a level of intensity to the track but it maintains a level of lightness throughout as well. (8.5/10)

5. White Night (백야 (白夜))White Night is the closest thing to a ballad on the album. It has a very nice R&B ballad instrumental, which is a major appeal factor for me. The piano that features throughout the song has this impactful feel to it, like how an emotional ballad would use a piano to invoke emotion or leave you haunted by it. And while I see this ballad-like, I can imagine some choreography to accompany it, similar to what BTOB has done with their ballad comebacks. But the thing that I am most impressed with within this track is their vocals. They were so soothing, captivating and wonderful. Each member shined in this track, confirming their vocal capabilities. (10/10)

6. Now – Ending the album is a return to an upbeat track. And it is a damn good track. The chorus is explosive and has major club vibes. I personally would put this music on if I wanted to dance because the chorus gets you into the mood just to do that. My pick for the highlight of the track has to be delayed drop before the first chorus. It was a very suspenseful and unexpected slowdown just before the actual drop, which made the drop so much more dynamite. The vocals and rapping were on point. The track ends the album on a good note and definitely leaves me to think about what is to come next from ONEUS! (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

Raise Up Teaser Image

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[Album Review] WE (3rd Mini Album) – WINNER

For today’s album review, we will be having a look at WINNER’s latest mini-album, WE. This was released back mid-May with their title track, Ah Yeah. If you have been a reader of the site for a while, you may have noticed that I have never reviewed a WINNER album before. The main reason for this was because I didn’t think the albums had much to talk about. But WE seem to be changer that may get their albums on my radar. On top of Ah Yeah, the song features 3 new tracks and remixed versions of Everyday and the unreleased track of First Love (which are not included in the album review, per usual).

WE Album Cover

1..Ah Yeah (아예) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Ah Yeah. (7/10)

2. Zoo (동물의왕국) – To me, Zoo has this laid-back vibe to it which makes it very pleasant to listen to. I find the song to be less proactive than Ah Yeah was (and this is isn’t a terrible thing). Instead, it is a light song that feels suitable following Ah Yeah. The instrumental is interesting as it relies on a mixture of tropical-like sounds and effects. In reality, the instrumental was made up of brass and flutes. There is some energy that you get via the blast at the end, which was nice. I did think the vocals and raps did not stand out as much. I think it is because I didn’t really identify a strong hook that made the song memorable overall. (7/10)

3. Mola (몰라도너무몰라)Mola starts off with a punch. It is striking and kicks the song on a positive note. The chorus is the second positive part of the track. I find the light yet dramatic nature of the instrumental to be equally as striking as the line that started of the song. Talking about the pop-based instrumental, I found that it does get very repetitive, especially after many listens. However, that can easily be overlooked as I found the energy that comes off it is very strong and impressive in many ways. The vocals and rapping were quite good in this song. Even though the instrumental required to be loud to be this impressive, I thought all the members stood out with their vocal and rapping abilities. (8/10)

4. Boom – I have an affinity for songs that give you an explosive surprise. And with the title ‘Boom’, you expect this. But the song starts off in a slow yet paced manner that makes you recheck if you are listening to the right song. And the verses of this track continue the pattern, which I think was interesting. It is the chorus, however, that is most explosive and rediverts the song to be true to its title. The alternating between soft and explosive to be a very understandable but dynamic effect, giving the song character. The ‘Boom Powwowow’ was very catchy and I honestly could not forget this song after listening to it. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

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[Album Review] B Complete (1st Mini Album) – AB6IX

Following the pre-release of Hollywood back in April, expectations were definitely high for the debut of AB6IX. A few weeks ago, the group made their debut with Breathe. And to continue the weekend of album reviews, today we will be having a closer look at AB6IX’s debut mini-album, B Complete. If I was, to sum up their mini-album in a short description, I think ‘this is one group not to mess around with’ would be the most efficient summary for my thoughts. Let’s see why that is the case!

B Complete Mini Album

1..Absolute (完全體) – Kicking off the group’s debut mini-album is probably everything I had expected with the Breathe (refer to my comments in the Breathe review). Absolute is loaded with intensity through its very robust and powerful instrumental. I personally think for a track like this, both the vocals and rapping managed to shined brightly, which is very rare. Though, I would have to admit that this track would probably be hard to pull off every day for a period of 4 or so weeks (the usual promotional period). It does bring it in line with the release of popular boy groups nowadays such as GOT7 and Monsta X, but still, manage to show off some personality and unique flair. (9/10)

2. Shining Stars (별자리) – Probably to offset the intense nature of the preceding track and to bring upon a lighter nature for their title track, Shining Star does a good job of being the middle man. While it does have a light tone, the track still manages to showcase dance elements in their instrumental, which I think works well with the group. Personally, I like it because it shows us that the group has capabilities of being versatile. Usually, we would have waited for the second or third album release from the group to get that feeling. But by switching it up slightly, the new group have indicated that they know what they are doing in this competitive industry. (9/10)

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

4. Friend ZoneFriend Zone is light-hearted and definitely more carefree from the rest of their tracks. I like the rapping in this track, which gives the song some attitude. Not too much attitude, but more like the ‘perfect amount’. While the song does feature prominent dance elements in their instrumentation (like their previous tracks), the song does have a tone that feels like a confession song. Saying that does sound like I have been listening too much of the genre. Though, it seems like AB6IX have different ideas regarding the term Friend Zone, as they refer to the Friend Zone as a step getting closer to their crush and not really the Friend Zone that all people dread. (8/10)

5. Light Me UpLight Me Up, to me, is a very stylish upbeat dance track that I find very addictive. There is a sense of elegance that I felt from the track, which I attribute the instrumental for. The pop-based instrumental (which had some trap influences) is very bright yet powerful, which is expected from AB6IX given their album thus far. I find the track to be quite addictive, as well. I think the song is their best, vocally. The rapping also earns a big tick from me. While the track is very enjoyable, I think the best of the best comes towards the end. I am talking about that short trap-like ending we got. I thought it was a nice touch to the end of the track and it made sense when you think of the track as a whole. (9/10)

6. Dance for Two (둘만의 춤) – Taking a complete 180° change is Dance for Two, which strips always any electronic based instrumentation and opts for acoustics and more traditional instrumentation. While AB6IX has stood out for their dance tracks thus far on the album, I guess they too are not immune from the clichés of album releases in the KPOP industry. The song seems to present their vocals and raps in a more delicate state, which was quite a nice change. I must admit that coming from multiple dance tracks, the song does relieve some of the intensity and energy, But the track feels a little too mainstream and (as I said) cliché for my liking. (7.5/10)

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

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

B Complete Teaser Image

[Album Review] We Are Superhuman (4th Mini Album) – NCT 127

It is time to restart the album review bandwagon for this site. Apologies for completely ditching this segment for the past few weeks. I really missed this segment but it just ate up so much of time, preparing and writing it up. But now with endless time on my hands, let’s get right back into it. One of the albums released at the end of May that I didn’t get around to reviewing is NCT 127’s We Are Superhuman. The album features the group’s latest comeback single, Superhuman, along with 4 other tracks.

We Are Superhuman Album Cover

1..Highway To Heaven – To me, opening up with a song such as Highway To Heaven, makes me turn my head towards the screen or speakers. It isn’t necessarily a punchy track with extremely addictive hooks in my opinion, which might be expected of NCT and KPOP traditionally. Instead, it relies on the loudness of the chorus, simple synth-pop instrumentation and the fact that it brings all the members together for the chorus. And I think these are all effective tools if used smartly, which is the case here. While many groups have used these techniques before, NCT 127 doesn’t mess around by leaving things to the end or take too long to integrate these said techniques, making it a very prominent and memorable track on the album. (10/10)

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

3. Fool (아 깜짝이야) – Taking a massive turn from Superhuman is the more light-hearted tone in Fool. And personally, this is somewhat different from the NCT 127 that I usually know of. But I am not hating, because it gives us an opportunity to recover from the intensity of Superhuman. I like the direction of the track. The vocals and rapping were quite nice. Harmonies are something to really keep your ears open for. However, there is one thing that sticks out at me that I don’t really enjoy. The verses had only a layer of instrumentation, but the chorus felt like it had too many layers within the instrumentation. Including the vocals and backing, I feel like it was overloaded. (8/10)

4. Jet Lag (시차)Jet Lag is the ‘ballad’ on the album. There is a rather slow start to the track but it slowly does build up the tempo through the use of percussion. And I think the vocals were very beautiful, especially demonstrated by the smoothness of the vocals during the chorus. I just felt like the rappers did not really have much of an opportunity to feature in the track. While the producers did try to incorporate the rappers in the song by giving them a hip-hop-like and ‘fast’ section, I felt it was a mismatch considering the rest of the song. And I think this inclusion made the song a little confusing. Is it a ballad or not? (6/10)

5. Paper Plane (종이비행기)Paper Plane seems to be the most ideal track on the album for the Summer season. It is vibrant and colourful, which are terms that I have used to describe most of the Summertime songs thus far this year. The pop tune in the instrumental is addictive and fun sounding, as well. It is also an uplifting track, which makes it even more enjoyable to listen to. I really like the chorus of the track, which is a straight instrumental piece. The build-up to it was also quite nice. Vocally, I could tell all the members apart and I liked that aspect of being able to differentiate each member, which can sometimes be difficult. (9/10)

6. We Are 127 (Outro Track) – An outro like this makes me excited for what’s to come. There is a mixture of genres going on, all something that I expect from NCT 127. Apart from the ‘We Are 127’ repetition, there isn’t much else besides robustness and mysterious vibes in the outro. Hence, I have decided to leave it off the calculation for the album rating but wanted to mention my initial comments anyway.

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

We Are Superhuman Teaser Image