[Review] Drip – HINAPIA

Japanese reviews will return next Saturday.

Last Sunday we saw the debut of HINAPIA, a five-member female group under OSR Entertainment. The group has received extra attention as it features four former PRISTIN members: Minkyeong (formerly Roa), Gyeongwon (formerly Yuha), Eunwoo and Yaebin (formerly Rena) and new member, Bada. The group made their debut with Drip. In related news,  PRISTIN was confirmed to have disbanded in May of this year after months of speculation from fans due to a lack of group activity.

What I have noticed in 2019 so far is that the female groups that are debuting are not messing around. There hasn’t been many cutesy concepts, which has been the default concept for newly debuting girl groups in the past years. Drip continues the strong female sound that has dominated 2019 so far. It opens with what I consider to be a very addictive ‘Drip Drip Drip‘ hook. I also like how they incorporate the same hook into the chorus. It also feels very seductive and smooth. I like the beat of the song, even though it sounds very typical. It helps contribute to the addictive nature of the song. I do admit there is some monotonal consistency throughout the song but I thought it really helped make the song feel mature and as already pointed out, seductive. I did like the singing and rapping, though they don’t really show off much in this song. I wished they did show off a bit to really give us a taste of what they have to offer the industry. A great debut track.

As part of my research, I found out that there were two versions of the music video. The original was taken down for what I assumed was due to complaints about the portrayal of one of the members (Roa, I believe). A lot of the scenes of her on the bed were removed. But I didn’t see anything too suggestive. Moving away from that, the music video shows the female members to be breaking free of the confines of their sets (which I thought were nicely mature). I am probably interpreting the lyrics incorrectly, but it seems like the guy is imagining the members in each set (the song keeps on referring to a dream). The members want to see a more honest and self-confident guy, rather than one who is using his imagination to be with them. So they break out of their cages and leave their sets, which I assume shows the members becoming fed up with waiting for the honesty to appear. I probably butchered the interpretation section. So if you have any other theories, let me know!

The song doesn’t offer the group much opportunity to really show off anything amazing. Nor does it allow anything of high intensity.  But I thought the choreography that we did get was representative of the song. It works with the seductive nature of the song and was quite mature, a change from what PRISTIN is known for. (In hindsight, I realize that this would have followed PRSTIN V’s Get It nicely).

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

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

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

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Treasure EP.Fin: All To Action Album Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

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Treasure Ep.FIN: All To Action Teaser Image

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[Review] Dumb – BVNDIT

We now find ourselves in awards season and it is time to make very important decisions for the 2019 year (no pressure). As I was browsing the nominees for the MAMA awards, BVNDIT stood out to me. Mainly due to the lack of songs in the second half of the year, as their other fellow nominees have released songs in both the first and second half of the year. After all, they can’t make us leave 2019 without another comeback to follow Hocus Pocus and Dramatic. To answer those prayers, the group returned with Dumb and their 1st mini-album, Be!.

Dumb is actually a pretty good song. There is a bit of a generic tone hidden in the midst of the song thanks to the slight Latin and tropical influence that Dumb goes for, which is something that we have heard way too often in the past few years. That being said, the song does increase their maturity from the previous comebacks and I think this works well with the style they have aimed for in their releases. The chorus and pre-chorus had a nice melodic touch to them, which made the song appealing to me. It just felt a little plain and some additional elements could have made it better. I was craving a little something extra in the verses and choruses to add a little vibrancy to the song. This could have made the song a lot more appealing and lessen the generic tone of the song. There was some monotone whoops they added after the choruses for the ‘dance breaks’. But as I described them, they are pretty monotone and don’t give the song that ‘bounce’ it needed. A rap sequence could have been useful to up the intensity and this could have made it appealing. But Dumb, as it is, was a nice follow up to their earlier works.

The music video was pretty aesthetic at the start. But as it progressed along, it lost that charm and ended up falling towards the generic side of the spectrum once again. I liked the emphasis on the colour red, which I think went extremely well with the song’s style. Their visuals were also quite strong in this video and it was alluring. Apart from that, there really isn’t much else to discuss regarding the video.

The choreography also suffers from the same problem as the song and video did. There were good moments throughout the routine. But overall, the performance looked quite bland. I put blame on the song as it didn’t give that dynamic potential to the performance aspect of the comeback. That being said, I did like the circular routine at the start of the performance and the chorus as well.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7.5/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.2/10

[Review] Money – Dawn

As mentioned yesterday, I will be reviewing Dawn’s (formerly E’Dawn from Pentagon) solo debut track today. He releases his single, titled Money, alongside his girlfriend’s return to the music industry with Flower Shower. For those who missed out on the big news in 2018, both Dawn and Hyuna were essentially kicked out of Cube Entertainment for dating each other. Despite that being over a year ago, the pair have signed with Psy’s new company, P-NATION, which is home to Psy himself, Jessi and Crush.

Unlike his girlfriend’s track, I am not really enjoying Money. It is just very boring and not captivating in many senses. Dawn’s parts in Pentagon alone are a lot more enticing, which I would have preferred if he somehow had incorporated some of that style into his solo debut track.  I understand he needs to start afresh. But you would obviously want to do so with something a little more memorable. That being said, I do tend to be a little optimistic and look at the good aspects. If his vocals and rapping were to prove anything, it would definitely show that he has potential. His singing was good and the second verse rap sequence was my favourite part of the song. I feel like if the song was a little more dynamic and potentially not as YG Entertainment-like than I think he would have really made this point more explicit. The chorus does improve the song a bit but the overall impression of the song still does lie on the boring side of the spectrum. I did like the calmness in Money, which I guess does ease us into what we could potentially expect from Dawn in future releases.

Watching this music video, it reminded me of G-Dragon’s more wild side that we saw in Crayon and Crooked. Just Dawn manages to take a notch further with the outfits and his crazed acting in this video. I have to admit I think the fashion choices in this video are not great. Like whoever thought black latex rubber suits looked good might need a long look at themselves in the mirror tonight. The song is all about money and it seems like he has withdrawal symptoms from the lack of money in his life. I really like the lighting of the video, which made the idea of obsessing over money a dark thought.

I thought the choreography was nice. Once again, not the more impressive routine out there. It does seem like he was able to bring more of that wild side that I mentioned in the music video review section to the performance, which I think made the performance very alluring to watch. And based on this routine, his stage presence isn’t something that we should underestimate.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.8/10

[Review] Flower Shower – Hyuna

One of the most unjust news of 2018 was the termination of Hyuna and Dawn’s (formerly E’Dawn) contracts under Cube Entertainment for dating each other. This caused the start of a long hiatus for both artists. The pair ended up signing with Psy’s new company, P-NATION and returned as solo artists on the same day (yesterday). Today, I will be focusing on Hyuna’s latest solo single, Flower Shower, and I will be reviewing Dawn’s tomorrow. Flower Shower is her first solo track since the release of Lip & Hip in 2017.

Comparing Flower Shower to any of her Cube solo hits and you can clearly see that Hyuna has gone with a completely different sound. And I like this new change in direction. To put it into words, her new solo track has been stripped over any overwhelming synths and allowed to present in a more ‘bare’ form. It is definitely refreshing in an industry now inundated with tracks that rely a lot on synths. There is also a playful vibe in the song, which I have never really gotten from Hyuna’s tracks before. Flower Shower really gives her an opportunity to focus on her vocals and rapping, which I think were nice aspects. The chorus was really catchy, with the scratchy flute keyed into my memory after just a few listens. This trend of an instrumental-only (or lyric minimal) chorus is heavily used by almost every artist, so it is a little tiring. But Hyuna makes it work really well in this song. With a great song like this added to her discography, all I can say is welcome back to Hyuna!

I thought this was a really beautiful video, fitting for someone as beautiful as Hyuna. For once, it doesn’t feel like Hyuna is over-sexualised. I think I have mentioned before in one of her reviews that I am not too troubled about the sexual nature of her videos (and thought it was tame compared to Western media). But not once did that thought come across my mind. Instead, that playful vibe that I mentioned in the song review part was present. That or her beauty was highlighted in an elegant manner. I thought the pale colour palette was particularly nice in this video, along with the obviously artificial sets.

Looking at her dresses in this music video and what she is potentially wearing on the stage (based on the performance videos already released), that sexualising concept has definitely been trashed by Hyuna. As for the choreography, I thought it was nice. Not impressively, like most of the recent routines I have observed in the past few weeks. I did enjoy the chorus and thought it looked really dynamic.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

 

[Review] Nostalgic Night – VICTON

It has been 18 months since we heard from VICTON. Their last comeback was in May of 2018 with Time Of Sorrow. But since their comebacks prior to their 2018 return were not garnering enough attention for the group, their company decided to send two members (Seung-woo and Byung-chan) to Produce X 101. Byungchan pulled out due to health problems, while Seung-woo finished 3rd and a part of the X1 lineup. And on Monday, VICTON return (with Byungchan and without Seung-woo) with Nostalgic Night, their first single post-Produce X 101. It seems like the survival show is paying off but let’s see how their comeback fare.

It is interesting that the group didn’t return with a new sound. Instead, they seemed to incorporate that sentimental sound that they left us with from Time Of Sorrow with a dance beat. Nostalgic Night ended up being a pleasant combination. It is a little typical sounding but I think it has enough to rival a few major male group releases in the past few weeks. I really liked the instrumental for this track, particularly the dance breaks we get after the chorus. It felt like a dull flute was being played (but in a good way) and this made the song feel appealing. I also liked how the instrumentation didn’t feel heavy-handed, which was one of the reasons why I mentioned the pleasant descriptor. Altogether, the instrumental was subtly dynamic, which I thought was cool. Their vocal work was nice and melodic. The rapping boosted the song and gave some intensity that I felt it needed. Once again, I am not too fond of the abrupt ending and this should have ended with a fade-out. Apart from that, a stronger hook would have made the song more memorable. But it was good, overall.

The music video pairs very well with the song. The song expresses their feelings of missing their former lover and whether they would still be together if they waited a little longer. In the music video, however, the exact same thing is expressed but in terms of their friendship group. It seems like some members regret the events of the night. My guess is that a car crash occurred, resulting in some of the members dying (we see some members unconscious around the car). Some members seemed to have taken a pill during the day and this resulted in them disappearing, which was foreshadowing the events to come. That is my interpretation of the video, though I am a little confused with the white pill (not exactly sure of its significance, as the first guy did drop them). I did like the use of colours and lighting of the video, which made the video more appealing.

The choreography was good. But it wasn’t impressive. When the song went into that more energetic and subtly angst-like instrumental break, I felt like they could have had moves that were more amped up than what they had. Don’t get me wrong though, as I did like what they had. I also like how smooth their performance felt, which worked well with the song.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 8.1/10

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

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

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Two Of Us Album Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

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Two Of Us Teaser Image

[Review] I Like That – Lee Jin Hyuk (UP10TION)

Back when Produce X 101 started, UP10TION sent two of its members (Kim Wooseok and Lee Jin Hyuk) onto the show to gain exposure. Lee Jin Hyuk placed 12th and missed out on a spot alongside his fellow member. Right after the show, his company provided him an opportunity to rest and threw UP10TION back into promotions with Your Gravity without him. It was a confusing move on TOP Media’s behalf, especially since he was there to help gain UP10TION attention. And he hasn’t promoted with the group at all since then. Instead, TOP media confirmed his solo debut for November the 4th and that is what I will be reviewing today.

The song is titled I Like That. Positioned as a rapper while promoting as part of his main group, Lee Jin Hyuk’s solo debut track takes on a club party hip hop style that used to be very popular as idol rappers made their solo debuts. There is a bit of nostalgia, as a result, with how the song is presented. But it is a style that I  never grew fond of and it seems to still be the case. It fails to deliver any of that ‘impact’ that I always mention and the track doesn’t come off as memorable. There are some fun vibes to it, which I did like. But they weren’t strong enough to really reel me in for a second or third listen. Apart from that, there are still some good elements of the song which I also liked. The instrumental isn’t too heavy-handed and it comes off as pleasant in a sense. “Pleasant’ isn’t a word you would necessarily use to describe a rapper’s song. But it did genuinely feel this way relative to other rapper-based tracks. His delivery was nice and tried to add a dynamic touch to the song. I think the song was a good starting point. Though I think the song could have been enhanced if there were more memorable moments/lines and if the producers pushed the song a little more.

I thought the music video was very boring. Apart from the shaky camera work, which worked well with the music, the video doesn’t offer much besides closeups and choreography shots. The sets were plain. I feel like this was a missed opportunity. The visual aspect of a comeback is very important, for me at least. It pretty much could enhance and added to the song’s atmosphere but I felt it did nothing of the sort.

The choreography was pretty good. Based on his showcase performance, Lee Jin Hyuk puts in full force like his backup dancers despite performing live. It definitely shows his performance skills. In addition to that, I thought his facial expressions were on point, which made the performance looked a little more captivating.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.1/10

[Review] You Calling My Name – GOT7

Due to my exam preparations, I will try my best to review songs for HIPNA, Lee Jin Hyuk, VICTON in the coming delays. This will delay other reviews for releases in the coming days. Apologies once again. 

Out of all the comebacks this week, I am most excited for GOT7’s comeback. The seven-member male group returned today with You Calling My Name and their 10th mini-album, Call My Name. Apart from being a mega fanboy of the group (no shame here!), I found their teasers for this comeback to be very captivating. But that is something to discuss a little later on in the review.  This is the latest full group comeback since the release of Eclipse earlier this year.

This isn’t my bias mind talking. But I thought this was a very thoroughly intriguing song. First of all, it strays away from the usual EDM style that GOT7 does. It goes with a subtly funky beat that sounds very refined, polished and mature. It focused on more on melody, which isn’t something that GOT7 has explicitly emphasised in the past. Another appealing aspect of the track is its smoothness at the start. Interestingly, the lines didn’t reflect this and felt almost ‘short and snappy’, which was another interesting aspect of the song. With the focus on melody, You Calling My Name allowed the vocal line of the group to shine more. Their past EDM hits have allowed the rappers to flourish, so it was a nice change. The first chorus which Jinyoung sang in that falsetto is probably my pick for the best part of the entire song (after the entire song, of course!). Youngjae’s section that followed the second and third chorus was a very close second (third) pick. the weakest part of the song was Mark’s rap section as it didn’t feel like it fit 100% neatly. While writing this review, I had a long debate whether this would be considered a reinvention. I wouldn’t say so, as they had these elements before in previous tracks. They just amped them up in a way that sounds so different but right at the same time.

I feel like the reinvention part came in a more visual sense. Firstly, how freaking aesthetic does the music video look? I am all for it. From what I read, they went with a different music video producer this time around. Hence why the video looked really different. The aesthetics seemed to show a more ‘broken’ and lonely side of GOT7, which reflects well with the lyrics, which was all about wanting a former lover to say their name again. The music video oozed of a masculine aura and mature sexiness that I don’t think no other group has really exhibited before. It made the music video alluring and very captivating.

I am already floored with the introduction to the performance. I thought it was an aesthetic aspect of the music video only. But I didn’t expect to be part of the choreography. I also really liked Jackson’s part, where he did that flip. I thought the rest of the routine was equally as amazing. Like the music video, it was alluring and captivating, which are practically two words that I think best describe GOT7’s comeback.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10

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

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

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The Book Of Us: Entropy Album Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Album Rating = 8.1/10

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The Book Of Us: Entropy Teaser Image

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[Review] Blah – 1THE9

Let’s jump into a time machine and go a little back further than last week. Apologies for the delay in its review, particularly since it was released mid-October (it should have been reviewed at the start of the week). But I guess better late than never. Well, the song to be focused on today is Blah, which is released alongside the group’s second mini-album, Blah Blah. They made their debut earlier in the year with Spotlight. And we haven’t much from the project group since that set of promotions. But they are here now and that is what matters.

Relistening to the song, the real reason to why the song hasn’t been reviewed yet could be due to its blandness. If it was memorable, I would have gotten around to reviewing it a lot sooner. Blah conforms to the typical nature of male group releases and hence it wasn’t able to stand out in the crowd. Another way to think about the song is that it is too ‘inside the box’. That is my overall impression of the song. Digging into the individual elements, I found the vocals and rap sequences to be okay. I think these easily could have been manipulated to pack a punch. Similarly, the instrumental would have been amped up. It felt like the group was playing it safe with the song and that isn’t something that benefits a newly starting group.  There some good melodic moments in the song, but these were more during the verses. The chorus was very unimaginative and what should have been the catchy hook was very dry and boring. If I were to sum everything up with one word, the song’s title says it all.

No doubt similar comments can be made with the music video. I have watched it once and I can’t seem to sit through it again. What I am trying to get it is that the video feels like one of those, ‘you’ve seen it once, you have seen it all’. It just felt typical. A lot of my comments would have been ones I have made before on this blog. So I am not going to repeat myself for once.

I really liked the energy that they managed to channel through the choreography. It is a little more than what we get from the song and I feel like that alone is a step in the right direction. I also like what they do with the slower moments of the song. I did wish for some bolder moves but I think the choreography was the strongest point of the comeback.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 5/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 5.4/10

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

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

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

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6IXENSE Album Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

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6IXENSE Teaser Image

[Review] Forever Love – Yoo Youngjae

Out of all the songs from last week, I have yet to cover my most favourite. Well, until now. Yoo Youngjae is one of the few lucky members of B.A.P to find a new entertainment company to promote under. He made his solo debut earlier this year with Another Night. Last week, he returned with Forever Love and his second mini-album, O,on.

The one word that I would use to describe Forever Love is dynamic. It is a song that jumped right out at me because it felt so right. From the vocal work throughout the entire song to the blast of energy that the instrumental would throw at you, this dance track was very appealing. I really liked how the producers defined the chorus in this track to make it stand out. Not only was there that influx of energy that I have already mentioned, but the presence of those backing vocals made it feel a lot bolder and more impactful. I had to relisten to the track a few times after the first listen because I just couldn’t get enough of it. I also like the slowdown that the pre-chorus and bridge featured, which ended up helping lift up the chorus of this track. Despite my praises, I  did feel that a proper rap sequence would have really transformed this song. It would have given the song some texture and if played correctly featured, it would have added to the impact and dynamic description of the song. That might just be me and every other music producer would say otherwise. But overall, Yoo Youngjae has a really amazing song under his belt.

I thought the music video was fantastic. The editing in this video was really good, especially at the end where it would zoom into each scene that was encountered throughout the music video. I also thought the sets looked really cool. Youngjae himself looked really cool, as well. The choreography shots looked really cool and I liked how they made it feel infinite based on lack of boundaries when it came to the sets. Usually, sets feel like a solid wall, but the swimming pool choreography shots in this music video had windows that extended into the distance. While the presence of water in choreography shots is a mainstream idea now, I thought it added to the appeal of the video as well.

Amazing choreography. I really enjoyed the intensity of this routine. And to know that he pulled it while singing live was rather impressive. It was to continue the moment and release awesome songs like this and have powerful routines alongside it, I think he will be making up for lost time in no time. I did like the idea of chairs but it made the stage look a little messy in my opinion.

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10

[Review] Poison – VAV

Happy Halloween! Have a spooky day!

Once again, I will not dip into the ‘Coming Soon‘ page yet. That might be next week after I wrap up the catch up for last week’s comebacks. Today I want to focus on VAV, who made their return last Monday with Poison. This is the group’s latest 2019 comeback, following Give Me More in July and Thrilla Killa in March. Poison is also the lead title track from their 5th mini-album, which shares the same name.

Given the many releases from last and this week, Poison quickly became masked and hidden away. Only fans of the group would be able to pick out their release from the crowd. But this could have easily been counteracted if the group released a song that stood out from the crowd itself. Though it is hard, it has been done before. Unfortunately, Poison doesn’t hit that mark. The song was rather standard and it isn’t as memorable as it could have been. While the vocal and rapping were fine, they could have used these elements in a way to deliver some impact. We did get a touch of this through their post-chorus hook. The combination of the deep vocals of Lou and the ‘Oh’ repetition gave the song some momentum and texture. I also liked how melodic the chorus was, which is a definite change to the more harsher electronic styles we get often. The piano in the instrumental was a really good direction. It gave me some nostalgia to some early KPOP releases. I just felt the combination of modern instrumentation techniques lost the appeal and nostalgia of the piano as it progressed along. Some good elements, some underutilised elements. All resulting in a typical song at the end of the day.

Likewise, I thought the video could have been so much darker and intense. The song really had that atmosphere, so I am a little disappointed that this was not aimed for. There was a fair bit of colour to the video, which is okay. I didn’t mind it as much. But I felt like if the video was a lot darker, it could have pulled some attention to the visual aid. Especially following that counting sequence at the very start which did have an eerie feel and the creepy smile that ended the video with and carved itself into my memory bank.

Once again, I thought the performance was very standard. Though I am not exactly sure how they would improve upon the performance. They managed to strike a balance with their less intense verses and the dynamic post-chorus hook that I really enjoyed (also my favourite part of the song).

Song – 6.5/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.8/10

[Review] SOSO – WINNER

It is time to catch up on some more reviews. But I am not dipping into my ‘Coming Soon’ page yet as there are a few more comebacks from last week that I wanted to cover. WINNER is a major group that I have yet to review and they made their comeback with SOSO last Wednesday. I am not going to delay their review anymore. We last saw the group through their Ah Yeah comeback, which was released 5 months back.

The way the song was set up was quite promising. But the resulting mix just didn’t work out too well. And I point my finger squarely on the slowdown that was featured as the chorus of the song. It was disappointing and a complete letdown, especially after such a rocking buildup to what could have been an amazing drop. It cut the momentum down to a sluggish pace. The repetition of the ‘So So‘ didn’t help as well. I think in their defence, it would have been interesting to some people. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.  The rest of the track was fine. I really enjoyed the verses. Mino’s rap sequence at the start of the song has to be one of the best sequences of the year. It was fluid and just kept coming at us. The vocals work was also quite good. They did seem to go with a more generic sound this time around, which seems to be the route that they have been aiming for during their last few songs. But WINNER always seems to make it sound good. Just not this time, unfortunately.

The music video is very filled with a lot of symbolism, which is different from what a typical music video coming from WINNER is usually. Based on what I understood from an interview, the video shows scenes of the scars that fans do not see commonly. They are practically isolated from the rest of the world (shown by Mino), entangled in the public life (shown by Seungyoon), dodging scandals to keep that innocent and well-behaved image (shown by Jiwoo) and are hurt and tired underneath all of that name brand clothing that they get to wear (shown by Hoony). It is an interesting video that does manage to speak volumes, especially with what recently happened.

I think the performance is a lot like the song. There were good moments during the verses and pre-chorus thanks to the more upbeat vibes in the instrumental. But the slowdown from the chorus made it rather disappointing and this really dried up the performance for me.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 5/10
Overall Rating – 6.2/10

[Review] Savage – A.C.E

A.C.E made their comeback today with Savage, the title track off their third mini-album, Under Cover: The Mad Squad. This is the group’s first comeback since their UNDER COVER promotions back in May of this year. Not a whole heap has happened with the group that I am aware of since their last comeback, so there really isn’t much to discuss in this introduction. So let’s just get stuck right into the review.

There was no doubt that A.C.E would return with another intense EDM track, particularly when the song’s title is Savage. Majority of their title tracks thus far has been EDM based, so there might be some overlapping of sounds which is a rather typical element of EDM. But I am not complaining too much as they do manage to spin the genre in a different direction each time. Last time we heard from the group, I mentioned that UNDER COVER was concentrated form their earlier works. I find this song to be an even concentrated form, localised around the chorus. I was thoroughly impressed with the vocals and rapping in this song, which all worked together in a rather cohesive way to really highlight the intensity of the song. I also find the chorus to be quite harsh, fitting in with the ‘Savage’ title of the song. And while I did enjoy all parts of the song, I was particularly fond of their start. It was playful in a tough manner. And also a perfect lead into the EDM intensity that we know from the group.

The album is titled Under Cover: The Mad Squad. I find the music video to be a great portrayal of this ‘mad squad’. Especially towards the end of the song, with both the entire video shot in a manner that did make them look slightly mad during the bridge. I also really liked their solo shots in this video, which really drew the attention to their visuals. On top of that, their eye contact with me made it much more captivating.

Seeing Chan wearing black shorts throughout the music video gave me flashbacks to their short shorts days. Apart from that uncomfortable trip down memory lane, it is one damn good performance. I really liked how fun the bridge part of the choreography looked. I also liked how they looked like they were allowed to let go during the final moments of the performance, despite still maintain formation and what seems to be a routine (as odd as it sounds).

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.4/10