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

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

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

Re-Boot Album Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

Re-Boot Teaser Image

[Review] Only One – JBJ95

JBJ95’s 2019 releases, including Awake and Spark, are eligible in the Best Song of 2019 category for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. To support JBJ95, click here to vote and have the opportunity to select JBJ95’s songs as the Best of 2019.

JBJ95 made their return yesterday through the release of a special single, Only One. It is described as JBJ95’s first seasonal track, with the song fitting for the colder season in which Korea is experiencing. This is also the duo’s first release since the release of Spark and Awake earlier in the year. In other related news, the pair will also be having their second concert throughout the Christmas and New Year period and it is will also feature a stage for their new track, Only One.

Only One is described as a mid-tempo hip-hop and R&B track. But over the years, there have been a fair number of tracks of a similar description. And so, Only One is a very typical and bland track. There really isn’t much to say about the song without rebutting it with the comment that someone else has done the exact same thing. I did think the chorus was decent, as you could sense a pop of colour thanks to their vocal/rapping. However, the verses and bridge had this dreary vibe to them that stayed in my mind for the entirety of the song. So, not even a pop of colour was enough to ‘save’ the song. The moody electronic detailed instrumental is also not that much captivating, going with pretty much something you hear so often in the industry. Overall, I found the song to be boring. Maybe the group should stay with more upbeat sounds in the future.

The music video shared a similar impression to the song. Or maybe it was just the song rubbing off on the music video. But I felt it was very boring as well. I mean, the video shows the pair calling someone and then they stuck some flowers onto the corner of boxes. Not really the most captivating set of events in the music video. I have to give the video some props though. Despite the very bland sound, the music video features a colour palette that isn’t dull or grey. This often occurs during this season and draws more energy away from some tracks in an unnecessary manner. Here, Only One‘s video manages to add a little vibrancy, whilst maintaining the typical autumn golden hue.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 6/10
Overall Rating – 5.4/10

[Double Review] +DONE161201+ & +REWIND170205+ – CL

Many of your favourite artists are nominated in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you haven’t voted yet, click here to do so and have your say on who are the best of each category in 2019.

CL makes her grand comeback to the industry with the release of +DONE161201+ and +REWIND170205+ yesterday. This is CL’s first comeback since leaving YG Entertainment last month and since the release of Hello Bitches in 2015. The two songs the former member of 2NE1 released yesterday consisted of two dates, which signify when they were completed. These two are also the first two of a series (In The Name Of Love) of track that will be released by CL herself in the coming weeks, though we don’t know when the next ones will be drop yet.

Both DONE and REWIND do not follow what CL released as a solo artist under YG Entertainment. They don’t take on board any hip-hop influences or sounds. Instead, the two track sounds more like pop tracks. They are good songs, reminding me of CL’s rough voice (which has definitely been absent from my playlist for some time). And both tracks a lot better than CL’s solo debut track (which I reviewed once and have never gone back to listen to it) DONE features an instrumental with an interesting hard vibrating synth. It plays throughout background and is an odd choice for a sentimental track. But it works relatively well, especially when CL starts rapping. I also liked the melodic touch the chorus had, which the synths also paired well with. Her voice is great in this song. REWIND is similar but it feels a little more weighed down and the instrumental feels more straightforward, going with a simpler, typical and less memorable mix. This results in a song that is quite bland. But I really liked the melodic flow of the chorus and her rapping seemed to have a better kick to it, then in the previous song.

It is often hard to judge videos of this kind. Obviously CL uses both videos to reflect upon the past 10 years, so it would be cruel to which is better or how they are flawed (if they are). So I will briefly run through what they had instead of laying down any judgement. REWIND is simply a collage of pictures throughout CL’s career, put together to ‘look forward to the future’. DONE features a lot of CL’s friends, lipsyncing to the song and is shown in a phone format (and felt like an advertisement for an Apple phone). Some familiar faces include Taeyang, Lee Hi, Park Bom, Minzy and Dara (though I might have missed some myself).

+DONE161201+
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

+REWIND170205+
Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.4/10

[Review] Curious About U – Lee Jun Young (U-KISS)

Many of your favourite artists are nominated in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you haven’t voted yet, click here to do so and have your say on who are the best of each category in 2019.

U-KISS may be inactive at the moment due to military enlistment and the departure of few of members recently. But one particular member has still been active in the midst of all of this. Lee Jun Young (otherwise known as Jun) has been busy with his acting career. He also has been busy in Japan, making his solo debut in Japan with Phenomenal World earlier this year. And now, Lee Jun Young has returned to Korea to make his Korean solo debut with Curious About U.

It has been a while since I have heard a dance track like this. Majority of the dance tracks that you hear very often today are usually EDM based or electronica. But Curious About U takes a band approach, which is very different and refreshing. It might not be an actual band (though it surely sounds like one) but I appreciate its willingness to be different from the rest. I liked the thumping drums at the start and how it stayed throughout. I thought the melody of the chorus was very catchy and clean-cut. And to top of the instrumental side of the performance, I thought the song had great energy, which made it even more memorable. Jun is commonly known to be a rapper. But through his appearance on The Unit early last year, it was shown that he was an all-rounder. Interestingly, Jun doesn’t rap in this song, focusing all of his energy on the performance and singing. And he has a really good voice that shines in this track. Overall, a super duper good debut track.

I thought the music video was pretty good. Just the subplot that we got in the video was a little odd. Essentially, detective Lee Jun Young is tasked on finding a murder. There is no body (though I assume someone official took it away). But there are envelopes left around with a suspicious lip-print on it. So, it is shown that the female actress walking away is the murderer. But who did she murder? Well, throughout the video, we saw Lee Jun Young following a lady, so we were to assume he was the murder at first and the person is stalking is his victim. But I think at the end, the video showed that Lee Jun Young was murdered, with himself being the prime focus of the images (i.e. he was the target). That might make sense, given that when he plays detective, he is in a black setting (i.e. he had died) and explains why there is no body.

It would be nice if the title of the YouTube video would contain the title of the song so it is easier to find. I honestly thought for the longest time that the song is titled Gallery.

The dance was really cool. Not only did it show off some of his skills but it looked really fun and energetic at the same time. This is all based around the music video, so I am wondering how the performance would look like on stage. No doubt that he would channel the same vibes into the live performance. But it looks promising.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9/10

[Review] 360 – Park Ji Hoon

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

All of the former Wanna One members (minus Ong Seong Woo, who has focused on acting this year) have made two releases in some capacity in this year. One of the last to join this lineup is Park Ji Hoon, who makes his return today with 360. This is Park Ji Hoon’s first comeback since his debut with L.O.V.E, which occurred back in March. Park Ji Hoon also returned to acting this year through Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency, as well.

The way 360 started off got me intrigued with the song. The instrumental kicks off with a smooth vibe and Park Ji Hoon himself starts off very low. The song ended up developing into a dynamic piece. There seems to be a subtle touch of funkiness in the instrumental during the chorus, which reminds me of solo releases by more well known acts, such as Taemin. Otherwise, it was well produced and a solid dance track overall. I really liked the post-chorus hook. It did sound awkward at first (his pronunciation of one of the words was questionable but it seems the lyrics were ‘take a shot for me‘), but a few extra listens really keyed it into my mind. His vocal work was quite good but I think Park Ji Hoon’s rapping steals the show this time around. It seemed to have a groove to which I thought nicely enhanced the song. Overall, 360 is a cool track.

The music video was really cool. I liked how the music video started off with the shakey closeup, the monotone filter and the flashing lights. And while I don’t like the flashing lights usually, I found them a good link between each scene. Deciphering the video is a little more complicated. From what I could see in the music video, there isn’t too much to go with besides Park Ji Hoon in different places. Based on the information I could find/understand, the video showed Park Ji Hoon at ‘different angles’ and hence this makes sense with the multiple locations. Other than that, I don’t understand what is happening in the video. I would like to know if there are some theories, so do comment below and share your understanding.

Like the song, I thought the performance was very dynamic. For a song titled as 360, the choreography contained a fair amount of turns. It looked elegant and powerful, which is very fitting for the song and the style that Park Ji Hoon went with. I also liked how sleek the chorus looked.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9/10

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

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

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

Hello Chapter 2: Hello, Stranger Place Album Cover

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

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

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

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

As You Wish Album Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

As You Wish Teaser Image

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

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

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

reality in BLACK Album Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

reality in BLACK Teaser Image

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

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

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

Blue Flame Album Cover

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

Blue Flame Teaser Image

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

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

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

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Love Poem Album Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Album Rating – 9.5/10

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Love Poem Teaser Image

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[Album Review] Follow: Find You (7th Mini Album) – MONSTA X

MONSTA X is nominated for Best Male Group and Best International Song by a Korean Artist in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support them by clicking here to do so!

As promised earlier today, we will be having a deep dive into MONSTA X’s latest album release, Follow: Find You. Even though it has been a month and MONSTA X (and MONBEBEs) have gone through a lot since then, MONSTA X did put out a really good album (once again). It would be a pity to not talk about the album in detail. The album features Follow as the title track and Find You (which I reviewed earlier today).

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Follow: Find You Album Cover

1. Find You (Pre-Release Track)Click here to read the full review for Find You. (9/10)

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

3. Monsta TruckMonsta Truck sounds like it would be an epic track just from the title alone. So I was very surprised when I heard the groovy nature of this track. It isn’t what I had expected. And if you were planning on listening to them sing about actual monster trucks, I think it is best that you turn away, as the song alludes to a different physical activity. Besides the groovy chorus, I didn’t care much for the vocal work in this song. It felt very so-so. The rapping, on the other hand, was superb. Their deeper tones really worked well with the instrumental. (7.5/10)

4. U R – Both vocal and rapping aspects shined in U R. The only disappointing aspect was the rapping only got a small portion of the song. But other than that, I thought this was a strong track. The R&B nature of the song really helped with the vocal push. Both in combination with each other drove the song in a nice paced and well-balanced member. I really enjoyed the melodies and the guitar that featured as the main instrument in this song. (8.5/10)

5. DisasterDisaster is no disaster. It is a fantastic track that showcases MONSTA X with a side of attitude. I like to think of it as a matured version of what they released when they first started, where they had a lot of attitude as well. I found the rapping start to the song, followed by the vocals a strong way to kick things off. You can always let Joohoney and I.M set the tone. I found the chorus to be very interesting, with that vibrating-like synth catching my attention. The short instrumental break with the brass and stronger vibrating synths was also another strong point. (8/10)

6. Burn It Up – What I really like about this track is its intensity. MONSTA X is an obvious choice for intensity. But the clanging metal and the robustness of the chorus really pulls the intensity to be song’s strongest aspect. I find it very interesting that the rapping takes a step back, featuring during the slower parts of the song and opting for a softer tone. Vocally, this is another good track. But the standout member of the group is Hyungwon, who brings a very interesting texture to the pre-chorus. And finally ending the song are church bells, which was like icing to the cake. (9/10)

7. MirrorMirror features a very soft tone. It is a nice song, vocally driven as a result of the softness of the song. I like the flowy nature of the song as a result. The harmonies during the chorus were awesome. Things get interesting after I.M’s monologue, with Joohoney and I.M kicking the song a slight notch by rapping a little more intensely than one would expect with the song. Afterwards, the song gets a little choppier, with pauses presenting themselves and ending the song in an interesting textural fashion. I am also a fan of the squeaky synth that featured throughout the song. (9/10)

8. See You Again – The album started off with an album that was very fitting for the situation that MONSTA X and MONBEBE find themselves in regarding Wonho’s dismissal from the group. And it is also interesting that the final song on the album is about wanting to see a particular someone again, which is equally fitting given the circumstances. I find the island and ethnic influences to be a pleasant backdrop and sound. The rapping and upbeat nature of See You Again really helped the song from being a 100% emotionally driven ballad, which we already got in the form of the first song. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

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Follow: Find You Album Cover

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[Review] Find You – MONSTA X

I will be publishing my album review for Follow: Find You later tonight. However, in preparation for this, I need to do one more full review. During the week prior to their official comeback with Follow, the group released the music video for Find You (another track on the same album). I thought it would be nice to write a full review (song + music video) for this release so that the album review write up can be somewhat faster. I have been putting off this review for some time and this is the absolute last date to do so.

Find You opens the album up. But for those who have checked out Follow, Find You is the complete opposite. It takes the form of a ballad. A soft, soothing and touching ballad. I thought it was a strong song. It brings out the vocals of each of the member, including the two rappers, whom we don’t get to hear sing all that much when it comes to MONSTA X’s group releases. I thought the melody was really beautiful, gave the song a very delicate side and helped make the song extremely flowy. All great things when it comes to ballads. I did like the instrumental, which featured a paced synth-based backdrop for this song. It also featured piano, adding to that delicate feel I mentioned. The last thing I wanted to mention regarding this track is the lyrics. I think the song was already quite an emotional one. But in light of recent events that saw the departure of Wonho from the group, as I was reading the translation, I couldn’t help but think how perfect the song is suited for the MONSTA X and MONBEBE’s situation. Even I felt slightly emotional whilst listening to the track once knowing the meaning behind the lyrics.

I won’t dwindle on the music video section for long. Essentially, the video is the prequel to the events in Dramarama (i.e. what lead to all the members to time travelling, why is Hyungwon alone etc). The main reason is because of the loss of Hyungwon’s parents, his dad leaving behind the watch that essentially caused Hyungwon to become locked away in time. This devastated the group, causing them to all go on their separate ways (they are all alone at the end). The song fitted the atmosphere and the tragic story that started it all.

The main reason why I don’t want to go into too much detail is that I want to do another music video theory post for MONSTA X and this storyline comes to mind. And I might be going insane, but I have a feeling other music videos (i.e. Alligator) might be linked up to this storyline (though I am not 100% certain). I also saw no connection with Follow, which is rather interesting, though I haven’t sat down to look at both videos in detail yet. 

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9/10

[Review] Obsession – EXO

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

EXO is officially back with a brand new studio album and the title track, both titled as Obsession. It has been some time since we heard from the group, who have been reduced down to 6 members for this comeback as Lay is still promoting in China, while D.O and Xiumin have both enlisted into the military. It has been a slightly busy year for the group, with each active member focusing on solo projects. Chanyeol and Sehun debuted as EXO-SC, both Chen and Baekhyun made their respective solo debuts, Kai and Baekhyun debuted as part of SuperM. And now that EXO has regrouped, let’s see what Obsession (the song) has to offer.

Obsession bombards its angst and edginess right at you from the very first second and still, it manages to hook you on at the exact same time. The song is described as a hip-hop dance track. Despite its initial impression of being a completely new sound, I found the track to be very EXO as I listen to more of it. Obsession’s foundations seemed very familiar, reminding me of Monster in a way. What sets the song apart is the repetition of ‘I Want You’ that is heard throughout the entire song (including the chorus). It doesn’t get annoying and is well used to help the song become addictive in the few listens that I have given the song. The ‘I Don’t Think So‘ during the verses had a similar effect. The verses were actually quite cool, showcasing a powerful side to their vocal and rapping profile. The only part that left me shaking my head in a disapproving way was Suho’s part in the first verse. He didn’t sound right under any light. I really liked the chorus, even though it felt hidden in this song. It gave Obsession that melodic and smooth side, contrasting heavily with the roughness that we got in the verses. I don’t think I am obsessed with Obsession. But I think there is enough to make this one of EXO’s strongest songs yet.

I am quite sure, as you are reading this and that I am reviewing this comeback, eagle-eye fans are making some sort of theory video. There has to be some sort of storyline or meaning behind this very dark, intriguing and unique side to the group. All I know is that the members (EXO) are in a war with their other counterparts (X-EXO), as it was depicted in their teaser images. One side might show an obsessed side of the group (X-EXO), while the other shows a more sane side (EXO). I think at the very end, we see the obsessed side (X-EXO) win, as it burns up the planet and we finish with that look. I have to give props to their stylists for explicitly setting the two sides of each member apart in a very sophisticated yet extreme manner that makes the video become even more intriguing.

We don’t get to see much of the choreography in the music video, so I will return to the update the review once a full stage it out. But I found the moment in the music video to be very promising. I am definitely looking forward to the Kai and Sehun moment during the bridge. I also like the flowy nature that is alluded for the chorus.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance –  8/10 [Will Update Later This Week]
Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[Review] Come See Me – AOA

Making their comeback yesterday is AOA. It has been over a year since we last heard from this popular girl group through their catchy Bingle Bangle comeback. Since then, the group was reduced to a five-member lineup, after Mina decided to not renew her contract with FNC Entertainment. The group then went on to participate on the TV show, Queendom, where the group reminded the audience that they still around. And this leads to their comeback, Come See Me.

What the group needs after their appearance on Queendom is a comeback featuring a powerful, catchy and addictive track. This would help further propel the group back into the spotlight, especially after some time away from the industry. Come See Me might just hit the mark, fulfiling the specified criteria above. But they only did so barely. I think this is a solid pop-dance track. It can be described as catchy and addictive, thanks to the chorus and that ‘Twilight’ hook. But as much as I would like to throw high ratings at it, the song did come with an overwhelming generic tag attached to it. The instrumental felt very plain and ordinary, while AOA past tracks have instrumentals that made them stand out and different from the rest of the female groups that they once competed with. The only time that the song felt like it was coming from AOA was during Jimin’s rap sequence. The same couldn’t be said with the rest of the member’s vocal work in the song. I was, however, was impressed that Jimin joined the vocal lineup with a singing section. But would all of this affect me from listening to Come See Me? Possibly, but the catchiness of the hooks might be enough to save it.

Based on the similarities between the music video and their final Queendom stage (with Sorry), I guess the company was going to make AOA comeback whether or not they gained anything from the competition show. From the brown outfits they wore on the stage to the use of guns, these were direct hints to the concept. I see the members play assassins in this video, so I assume the thrill of killing is like the thrill they get when their partner approaches them (as suggested by the lyrics). I liked the video as it showcased an edgy look, which is a completely different side of the group that we are used to. At the same time, the group managed to remain sexy, which has always been AOA’s strongest suit.

I am on the fence with this performance. I really liked how they finished the chorus, with the ‘twilight’ move. But I felt their start to the chorus and the verses were pretty weak. As expected, my most favourite part of the performance has to be when they beckon you to follow them (about halfway through the chorus).

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10

[Album Review] The Table (7th Mini Album) – NU’EST

The next album review (as part of the album review blitz) is for NU’EST latest album release, The Table. I debated whether to write an album review for The Table as my first listen didn’t really show anything promising. But I am glad I gave it additional listens, as it eventually unveiled an interesting side to NU’EST that we have yet to hear before. So alongside Love Me (the album’s title track), let’s see what else the album has to offer.

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The Table Album Cover

1. Call Me Back – Opening The Table is Call Me Back, a light tune that eases you into the album. Considering the title track, Call Me Back is fitting as the opening track as the lightness carries through. And considering the brighter tone of the entire album, it also makes senses for this to be the opening track. The instrumental is island-like and features a fair bit of guitars. The vocal work is good, and the rapping iterated the playful vibe that was felt throughout the song in a bolder manner. (8/10)

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

3. One Two ThreeOne Two Three brings out the vocals of the members in a very pleasant and enjoyable dance track. Once again, the lightness is very prominent, and this plays well with the vocals. Listening to this track, I found the entire chorus to be the most promising part of the track. Those vocal melodies during the chorus helped make the song feel golden. The rapping was not part of the chorus, but I liked how JR was allowed to lead into the chorus in an equally as pleasing manner to the vocals in the track. (8/10)

4. Trust Me – It seems like NU’EST is on a roll with this light and soft concept. Trust Me takes you back into those descriptions but manages to make them sound completely different from what we have heard so far. The harmonies really helped the song shine and helped the song achieve a smooth feel that really stayed with me even after the track was completed. Another really good aspect with this track is that the instrumental feels somewhat heavier. (9/10)

5. Stay Up All Night (밤새)Stay Up All Night features an even heavier instrumental (compared to the preceding track). As a result, the lightness trend that the album had going didn’t end up carrying over. But this isn’t a problem as the ‘heaviness’ was in no way overbearing (it was still relatively soft to other tracks by other artists currently). Despite the ‘heavier’ impression, I liked how the song manages to feel bare during some parts, which is a very interesting aspect. This gave way to even more epic vocal moments, such as when the song stripped away the instrumental in the bridge and allowed for the member (I believe it is Ren) to sing by himself. (9/10)

6. If We (우리가 사랑했다면) – I was very surprised to find out that JR was the owner of the vocals that opened the track. His voice can be very rough when he raps, so to hear smooth vocals from him was really cool. But what genre would warrant a rapper to sing? Well, the song is a ballad. It doesn’t feel so in the verses. But the choruses really made sure that we knew it was a ballad. Each member managed to sound raspy in this song and I think this gave the ballad in interesting and memorable texture. The melodies were also really good, as well. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

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The Table Teaser Image

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[Album Review] Purpose (2nd Studio Album) – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Approximately one month ago, Taeyeon made her solo comeback with Spark and her second studio album, Purpose. And as part of my album review blitz, I will be recovering her album today. Known for her chart-topping hits, Spark joins the growing list of songs that she has released to do exactly that. Unfortunately, she didn’t promote the album as fans had hoped. And due to this, I feel like some listeners have missed out on some really good songs on this album. So let’s change that and revisit this album.

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Purpose Album Cover

1. Here I Am – The second album opens with a ballad that features Taeyeon’s powerful vocals. Overall, it is a powerful and bold start to the album. From the very first second, you get an epic and grand vibe from the song, which provides a small insight into what the song would become. But that epic and grand vibe end up being one-up by the chorus, which blasts us with deep percussion and her vocals (which were superb). I found it interesting that the song ended in a soft nature, bringing us down from the high she put us through during the choruses. It worked really well and the piano was very haunting, in a way. (10/10)

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

3. Find MeFind Me started with a very promising verse. But when it came to the chorus, I was left underwhelmed. And this feeling stuck with me throughout the song. I just found that the song didn’t space out the sections and the ‘should have been’ separated verses and chorus felt more like a long string together. Minus that flaw, Find Me was still a decent track. I thought the instrumental was good. It didn’t have that boldness like in Here I Am. But it was catchy and was a pleasant tune. Her vocals were also quite good, showcasing a well-balanced sound that didn’t overwhelm the rest of the song. (7/10)

4. Love You Like CrazyLove You Like Crazy is a levelled-up counterpart of Find Me. It has a pounding beat and incorporates of the guitars that we heard in the title track. I really liked her vocals in this track. She adds interesting textures and presents that bold feeling we have gotten in some of the previous tracks during its chorus. I would have liked it if it somehow went further as I did get the impression that there was some holding back, which doesn’t match with the ‘Crazy’ part in her title. (8/10)

5. LOL (하하하)LOL takes my breath away every time I listen to it. I liked the R&B roots of the song, which oozes such a smooth and sensual vibe. I really like how this style sets up for the sarcastic and sleek laughter she provides in the form of a spaced-out ‘Ha Ha Ha’. The acapella that opens up the first chorus was extremely memorable. So are those horns that feature during the chorus. Her English hooks are also quite addictive. Everything that Taeyeon did manages to hit the bullseyes perfectly with this track. (10/10)

6. Better Babe – We still remain with the R&B genre with this song. This was heard during the verses, which I think were solid parts of the song. The chorus takes a turn by blasting us with Taeyeon’s vocals. While I am okay with Taeyeon pulling out her vocals, the way she did it in this song could have quickly felt repetitive and I am not okay with that aspect. However, thanks to the bridge and the opening part to the final chorus, I think she did enough to prevent that scenario from becoming a reality. (8/10)

7. WineWine felt like it could easily have been the OST to a drama. It evokes the right feelings that make it well suited to help captivate the audience. I thought the melodies in this track were beautiful, making the song stand out for me. I also like how she doesn’t pull out her powerful vocals for this track (with the exception for the few high notes we get at the end), which works well with the sentimental side of the song and its potential lightness. The piano touch also helped make it pleasant. (9/10)

8. Do You Love Me?Do You Love Me? has this warm feeling to it, which makes it highly appropriate for the upcoming Winter season in which Korea and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere will be entering in a few days. Her raspy and whisper-like vocals are really nice in this song and I found the jazzy instrumental to be very pleasant. The two coming together is a good match that I think makes this song shine. (8/10)

9. City LoveCity Love is an urban track, which feels very flowy and breezy. I liked the casual vibes to this song, along with her light and sweet-sounding vocals. It showcases a side we know of Taeyeon, just we haven’t seen much in this album yet. The piano is particularly nice and managing to infuse a delicate sound in this already light track. Personally, it isn’t my style. But it is still decent. (8/10)

10. Gravity – Another standout track on the album. Her vocals are the main element that is attributed to that label. I thought they were exceptional, especially when she pulls the powerfulness out during the chorus. It also works well with the instrumental, as this element acted more-so like a blank canvas. There was a lot of room to move about and her vocals worked the space extremely well. I also like the spaced-out pulsing beat in the background, which helped provide the song with additional foundation. (10/10)

11. BlueBlue and Four Seasons were previously released earlier this year. I have already reviewed the latter song, as seen below. I remember listening to it a few times when it was first released. But I have honestly forgotten about its existence since then. It is a nice revisit, as I am still impressed with this track. The vocals remain delicate throughout the entire track. The pop side of the song really makes you anticipate that the song will build up and she would pull out her power vocals to end the song. But we never get there, which I think makes this track very interesting. I also find the echoes in the chorus to be a nice touch, helping extend the song an extra mile. (9/10)

12. Four Seasons (사계)Click here to read the full review for Four Seasons. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

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Purpose Teaser Image

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