[Review] Summer Breeze – SF9

Six months ago, SF9 kicked off 2020 with their Good Guy comeback. It proved to be SF9’s most popular and best-performing comeback ever, with the group earning their first-ever weekly show music win during the promotions of Good Guy. And exactly six months from that comeback, the group is back, now helping to kick off the second half of 2020 with Summer Breeze. Their new title track features on the group’s eighth mini-album, 9loryUS.

SF9 begins the song with an intriguing synth sequence that reminds one of those Western movie themes, before reverting to a foot tap worthy house beat for the verses. The pre-chorus creates suspense with a typical but workable buildup. The chorus combines that Western movie theme synth sequence with those house beats to create a really pleasant and enjoyable combination that takes the positives aspects of those two sounds to form a wholesome feel. The bridge brings forward refreshing acoustic guitars that stayed hidden between the Western theme synths and house beats during the chorus. Overall, it is safe to say that the Summer Breeze‘s instrumental earns a big tick from me. It is just so suitable yet so refined for Summer. And it is this refined sound that makes it suitable to be a follow up after Good Guy. Some of the other aspects of the song are good to great, but they just don’t feel as amazing as the instrumental. The vocal work and rapping were strong efforts. Zuho’s rap sequence just before the final chorus had a nice punch to it and was a highlight in my opinion. There are some good hooks in this song and the melody is pretty easy to follow. But each of these components (the vocal/rapping, hooks and melodies) have a hand in creating a generic atmosphere. I wanted something more exciting and addictive, which would easily help lifted this song to be one of their best. What we have is good and I feel like it will be enjoyable at the very least if the subsequent listens don’t help it grow on me. But per usual, I wanted more from the members in Summer Breeze.

It is a bit unclear what the concept of the music video really is. I thought they were part of different gangs with the mission to eliminate each other at first. Though, it doesn’t explain the part when one of the bullets broke the mirror to reveal the sunshine, which then caused the members to redirect their gunfire. One source says the music video was similar to a James Bond movie and that the members are playing a dangerous game. Though, that also doesn’t explain the sunshine scene. Apart from the confusing plot line, I liked how the music video set gave me the same feels as their Good Guy music video. I also liked how classy the video felt, especially in the hotel scenes where the gunfight occurs.

Best part the choreography is during the ‘Bang Bang Bang‘ parts. I also found Jaeyoon to be the most captivating member, with his body rolls during his solo parts. As for the rest of the performance, there isn’t much else to comment on. It may not have been captivating, but it felt refined and classy, which is definitely the direction that SF9 was aiming for with this comeback.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.2/10

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

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

Breaking Sensation Album Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

SF9 Member’s Teaser Images for Breaking Sensation

[Album Review] First Collection (1st Studio Album) – SF9

This is a studio album review. It is lengthy.

SF9 made their return last Monday with Good Guy and their very first studio length album, First Collection. And a bigger congratulation to the members as this comeback has scored them their first (few) wins on the weekly music shows that we see each weekend. Good Guy scored first place on MCountdown and Music Bank this week, further proving that their popularity is growing between comebacks. Good job to the group and hope to see more wins the future, as they do deserve it. But before we go anywhere into the future, let’s have a close look at what their first album had to offer.

First Collection Album Cover

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

2. Am I The Only One (나만 그래) Am I The Only One could easily have been a title track. There is a very classy profile to this track that I think many people might miss if they gloss through the album. I find this contrasts in a very distinct manner, as the song talks about being the only one in a former relationship to have their thoughts linger towards their former lover. The chorus was really smooth, and I thought the husky vocals Inseong brought to the song really ‘upgraded’ the song. The rappers also stood out in this song, which their parts providing a little interesting push and texture. There is a lot more that I wanted to say about this song. But due to the nature of the album review, this is not possible. However, I think the song can be described in one word: perfection. (9/10)

3. Shh – Another fantastic song on this album comes right after a perfect song. I like how seductive the song sounds. The limited brass that featured in the instrumental (during the pre-chorus and ending) was very smooth, while the guitar helped make the song groovy. I liked how they amped up the bass for the chorus, which made the instrumental sound so bouncy. I thought every member sounded really good in the song. The rappers did not have much of a presence in this song, relative to the second track. But their parts sounded really good, complimenting the vocalists and their slight seduction. (9/10)

4. Lullu Lalla (룰루랄라) – I wasn’t exactly sure what direction the song would take, given the song’s title. But once I heard the pop sound and the upbeat instrumentation, it all made sense. The instrumental or backdrop to the song was very vibrant, which I thought gave the song a strong appeal. There is a much brighter tone to the song, which does take everything we have heard in a different direction. I thought it was a nice palate cleanser, given its position after a number of intense tracks (the intensity in some was more subtle). There is a bit of autotune to the song, which I thought gave good textures to the otherwise traditional sound. The vocals and rapping were good. (8/10)

5. One Love One Love is another upbeat dance pop track. But unfortunately, it sounds pretty typical for its pop sound. And hence I find the song not as impressive when compared to the song around it. What the song does good is that it pushes forward with an instrumental that just keeps on going. I thought this was a good aspect of the song, as the flow does not get cut for majority of the song. The only break in the instrumental comes just before the final chorus and it does so in a neat manner. The momentum returns in full capacity for the final chorus and gives the song a decent ending, ending with how it started. (7/10)

6. Like The Hands Held Tight (널 꽉 잡은 손만큼) – Chosen as a secondary promotional track (i.e. promoted during their comeback week), Like The Hands Held Tight is a mid-tempo R&B track that sounds pretty decent. It shows off their classy side, as mentioned earlier in the review, and this makes this a good lead-in to their actual comeback title track. The track also reminded me of their O Sole Mio era, based on the way Taeyang sings ‘Take My My Hand’. To be honest, I wanted a little more to the song. I wanted it to be more engaging. The instrumental was bland and needed to be spice up in some capacity. The song would have benefited from this and developed a more engaging appeal. (7/10)

7. Fire (타) – For a song named Fire, I expected a little more when it came to the verses. I expected it to come roaring at me, as other tracks titled Fire have done in the past. But I thought the start (and second verse) was pretty tame in comparison. The chorus does make up for the flawed start by amping up the instrumentation, tempo and energy. The hooks were very catchy and addictive. I did place a huge question mark over the rapping, because I thought it needed more intensity. But more listens have removed this question mark. The vocal work was also quite good as well. (7.5/10)

8. Stop It Now (더 잔인하게) – Despite the song being on the shorter side, I thought Stop It Now was a very good song. There is a slowness to this song that I thought was aesthetically pleasing. I personally don’t think the song was ‘slowed’ to be seductive, though I am confident that these guys can pull off a concept of that type. Instead, the slowness drives the song. I liked how the beat is accented in this song, make it even more powerful. The vocals are dragged out, but in a way that works with the rest of the song and doesn’t feel unnecessary. The rapping is a tool used to add intensity to the song, making it even more engaging. (8.5/10)

9. Dance With Us (춤을 출 거야) – Given the title, I thought it was going to be vibrant and fun sounding. I wouldn’t say I was 100% right, but I was thinking in the same direction. What I didn’t expect was the song’s first verse to be very similar to Pentagon’s Humph!. It gave off the same vibe. The rest of the song doesn’t really sound the same, however. I did expect a little more ‘dance-centric’ or lively sound in the instrumental as the tempo may come off sluggish to some. However, I thought that the song was interesting as it is and had a SF9 profile to it. The ending was very unique, as the members kick up the tempo and give us that lively sound, I had desired. It was just short-lived. (8/10)

10. Beautiful Light – Based on my YouTube search, Beautiful Light was revealed at their concert last year. I seem to can’t find an English translation for the song. But given its position as the final track on the album, along with its performance at their previous concert, Beautiful Light is probably a track dedicated to their fans. The upbeat and happy instrumental is very upbeat and different from their usual style. There is a nice melodic ring to the song. The vocal work and rapping were also very good. Thus, ending the song on a happy tone. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

First Collection Teaser Image

[Review] Good Guy – SF9

It is always exciting to see and hear the release of a group’s very first album. Some groups are much fortunate than others, releasing their first full length album in the second year of their careers, while others have to wait a longer period. SF9 debuted in 2016 and have been releasing mini-album after mini-album. And finally after four years, the male group has finally released their first studio length album titled First Collection. An album review for that will come in the future. For now, let’s focus on their title track, Good Guy.

Listening the synths from the very first second of the song, I had flashbacks to the drip-like synths they had in Now or Never (which I still think is their best track to date). Good Guy changes it up a bit by lacing piano during the verses in the instrumental. It is another clean cut song, as a result. The song builds up nicely to a very bold chorus. I like the repetitive nature of the lyrics for the chorus, which really keys in the song into your memory bank. I also like the intensity of the chorus, which really enhances the sound and makes everything feel so much bolder. The vocal work was pretty good and the rapping really helped provided a rougher tone to the song, as most raps are made to do. What I wanted was a bolder end. Like the song is already quite bold (as I have mentioned a few times). No doubt, Good Guy is an excellent addition to SF9’s discography, sparking a little throwback whilst also remaining fresh at the same time.

The setting of the music video seems to be a men’s club for the elite or rich. Not sure what the correct term for this is because ‘men’s club’ might allude to something else. But let’s not go there. What they do in this club is pretty ordinary (darts, billiards, tennis etc.). But the setting makes feel like the activities they are doing are of the wealthy kind. To be part of this club, each member is seen wearing a gold bracelet. I was particularly wowed at the end of the video when the bracelets come together and the members are dancing under the bracelet structure. Thought that was really cool and definitely a step up from other videos from their past.

The group has gone with another masculine yet powerful choreography, which no doubt fits the group’s image. Them dressing up in suits this time was shows off a pretty elegant and sophisticated side, while their moves tell us a completely different story. Yet the two manage to merge to together so effortlessly once again.

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

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

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

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RPM Album Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

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RPM Teaser Image

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[Review] RPM – SF9

We begin the week off with two sexy comebacks for all the fans out there. First up on the reviewing spotlight is SF9. They return today with their latest title track, RPM, which is featured on the group’s seventh mini-album (which shares the same title). We previously saw SF9 earlier this year through their Enough promotions. Once again, Now or Never will be my standard and Enough fell slightly short of the standard. So let’s see how RPM places.

RPM starts off with a heavy tone and beat, which is a very different opener to what I am used to with other KPOP tracks. I have to admit that this, while is different, didn’t feel ideal at first. But a few listens in later, the heaviness does foreshadowing the dynamic and loaded tone they opted for this comeback. The rapping and vocals complimented this heavier style, which I quite liked. I didn’t know how they were going to pull it off. But after the energy rush we got from the chorus, it felt like a lock and key situation. I also like the suspenseful buildup to the first chorus, which kept me on the edge of my seat. I would have liked a strong vocal hook. It felt like they placed too much emphasis on the ‘RPM’ repetition, which only half satisfied me (The deep ‘Boom Boom Boom‘ that followed the RPM repetition was on point, however!). I would have also liked to see the rapping hasten as we got more of it. I think that could have added another dimension to the song. While there were some weak moments, RPM proved to be a strong contender. But once again, it didn’t match the standard that they previously set.

There seemed to be a plotline in the video. Based on what is seen, I assume it is set in a video game context with a futuristic heist being the main target. It seemed like some members made it through successfully by completing their mission, while others were lost (i..e Chani who took off his controller, which Zuho later picked up). However, based on what I saw, only one member successfully got the end (whoever stopped the sliding briefcase). Based on the lyrics, it seems like they were all racing to love. So maybe whoever stopped the briefcase at the end was the one who made to ‘love’ successfully. Awesome video with really cool effects and visuals.

The choreography for this comeback looks very intense and I am captivated by what I saw in the music video. To me, the standout member for this comeback is Chani, who I think was in the centre position for both the first and final chorus. I couldn’t take my eyes off him as his moves (along with the rest of the group) was powerful and definitely impactful.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Album Review] Narcissus (6th Mini Album) – SF9

It is time for another album review and today we will have a closer look at SF9’s latest mini-album, Narcissus, which was released last week. It features the title track, Enough and five other amazing songs. And I cannot emphasise that enough. This is one extremely high-quality album, where every song is praised. I barely have anything negative to say about the songs, as you will find out as you read the review. Furthermore, it is extremely rare for me to actually enjoy every song in the album. Okay, before I continue to ramble on, I hand you over to the actual review.

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Narcissus Album Cover

1..Enough (예뻐지지 마) (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review of Enough. (9/10)

2. Play Hard (화끈하게)Play Hard is exactly what the song’s title suggest. It urges you to enjoy yourself and have a great time living life after a hard week’s worth of work. I am totally loving the chorus for the song. The saxophone infused upbeat chorus is extremely fun sounding and definitely gets you into the groove for partying. I like how the rappers got a lot of parts in the song, with their deep voices complimenting the bright and energetic nature of the song. I also really liked the shared lines between in the chorus as well. I find it a little intriguing that there is also a dance break in the midst of the song, as the song pretty much covered the necessity of that already. But I guess the song is about partying, so why not have some more fun while you are it? (9/10)

3. Heartbeat (하필)Heartbeat starts off in an ambiguous nature, as you are a little unsure what direction the song would take. You do here a paced heartbeat in the background, but it doesn’t really tell you how the song would progress. The song starts taking shape once the song once Rowoon starts singing and the amazing guitar starts, with the latter leaving me floored. The chorus confirms the presence of a pop track in our midst and I think I really like the nature of the chorus, giving me nostalgia to past pop songs. The rapping was quite awesome in this song. It isn’t the main element in the song (as the vocals are, which are equally as nice). The only thing that I don’t agree with on the track is the autotuned ‘I can feel your heartbeat’. Yes, it does feel very fitting for a pop context. But I think it just ruins what the song really built up to. (9/10)

4. Life Is So Beautiful – Another good track from the group but it doesn’t scream at me straight away. Instead, it takes a few listens for me to really appreciate its pretty intense drop and overall sound. To me, the EDM chorus stands out the most. The build-up in the pre-chorus promises it to be something quite fast-paced. But the actual chorus ended being dragged out and slower than expected. I think that really did a lot to attract my attention. The vocals in this track, along with the rap are, once again, extremely commendable. I like the underlying of electric guitars at the end. It could have been easily missed, however, due to the intensity of the chorus. (8/10)

5. Fall In LoveFall In Love is probably the closest song to a ballad on the album. It does still have a dance influence due to the presence of the consistent drum beat in the background. But it is the piano that is the most dominant instrument in the instrumental and it gives the song a really beautiful melody. And due to the presence of the beautiful melody, the vocals benefit as they are given a platform to really shine. But as usual, their rappers managed to slide perfectly into the song and I am impressed with that. I think this would be a very nice track to listen to on a rainy day and I might just put this one on during the next wet day that comes by. (9/10)

6. The Beat Goes On (무중력) – We return to upbeat vibes for the last track on the album. There is a very cheerful vibe to the song that sets it apart from the rest of the album. I also like how it isn’t a really hard-hitting track. Instead, there is a hint of softness to the track that really holds it down and feels refreshing. For this track, I prefer the vocals to the rapping, as the song focuses more on the vocals, while the rapping is more of a side element. I liked the melody of the track, especially during the chorus, which is lead by Rowoon and Taeyang. I also like the ‘Beat Goes On’ line that brings everyone to the microphone. And honestly, it wraps up the album neatly. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

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Narcissus Teaser Image

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[Review] Enough – SF9

Also returning today is SF9 with their newest title track, Enough. It is featured on the group’s 6th mini-album, Narcissus. This is the group’s first comeback since their amazing Now Or Never comeback back in August 2018. Since then, the group has embarked in Japanese promotions for Now Or Never and held their first concert in South Korea. On top of that, Chani, the maknae (youngest) member of the group has recently gained popularity for his impressive acting on Sky Castle and has also drawn attention to the group.

Unlike Now Or Never, it actually took me a few listens to really get into the song. Enough is still a powerful song, however. It just took a little longer to really build up to a part that really feels impactful. The song mixes various genres including reggae and EDM to create a very dynamic sounding instrumental. It is very interesting and I really liked this mixture aspect of the song. The vocals and rapping were quite good, particularly during the chorus, I thought the ‘Ya Ya Ya‘ ending to the main lines in the chorus was really catchy. The really impactful section was the dance break, which provided a nice burst of intensity for the song. Altogether, the song was quite impressive. Unfortunately, my standard for their releases is based on Now or Never, which may seem a little unfair. I think it is going to be really hard to top that but Enough was a fair attempt at doing so. Don’t worry, as I still enjoyed the song and will be coming back for more in the coming weeks.

The music video showcases the members looking at themselves in the mirror. The whole idea of the album is in regards to Narcissus, who was known for his good looks and self-confidence in Greek mythology. The song essentially tells oneself or a lover that they are beautifully already and don’t need to do anything else to ‘improve’. I am not too sure about the start but I am sure the ending is about letting those thoughts about needing to improve one’s look, especially when the mirror cracks and one of the members ruin the reflective surface of the small pond they were staring into. Interestingly, the music video was quite dark for the most part and shot in within concrete walls and very bright white sets. The contrast was interesting and I think managed to show different sides of the guys in the different lights.

The choreography for this comeback looks really good. I liked how masculine the moves during the chorus looked. The dance break may be short but it really gives the performance a rush of energy and thus kicking it up a notch. And as they went faster, the fact they still managed to stay in-sync looked really cool.

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

[Album Review] Sensuous (5th Mini Album) – SF9

SF9 made their very impactful comeback two weeks ago week with Now Or Never. They have also topped the Weekly Music Charts post for this week (thank you for all the retweets and likes on Twitter! My phone wouldn’t stop buzzing this afternoon). Fun fact (and I am not making this up) but I actually planned to review this album prior to its release. I was so drawn to the album by just listening to the highlight medley.  I even fast-tracked the album review release, as well. Hence, why we are here today. Onwards with the review!

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Sensuous Album Cover

1..Now Or Never (질렀어) (Title Track)Click here to read the review for Now Or Never. (10/10)

2. Different (달라) – This is the type of sound that I associate with Summer when it comes to KPOP. It is a very upbeat, vibrant and colourful song that feels just right. And while the song isn’t as mind-blowing as the title track, the song does a good job of maintaining the same level of energy and power, which I think it totally awesome. The song features a catchy chorus and showcases really good vocals, as well. The rapping is also equally as good but I felt they were too short. (8.5/10)

3. Unlimited – The start of this song is a tad underwhelming, given how the song progresses. It feels like a start to a slow yet dramatic song, not an upbeat dance track. Once the song does pick up (mid-way of the first verse), I was very impressed with the quality and intensity of the sound. I personally liked the prolonged drop into the choruses. Once again, there was great vocals and raps. I did notice the bridge of the song featured the guitar instrumental that was heard at the start. While I thought it as a start was underwhelming, its presence within the song was more appreciated. Overall, another good song. (8/10)

4. Photograph – Following the characteristics of the previous tracks, Photograph also takes on a bright sound and is another dance track. It is the type of KPOP song that you listen to yet smile to because of its energy, despite not knowing what the lyrics mean. I didn’t like the slow down they used for the pre-chorus, which felt a little awkward for me. It just felt like something more towards the end of the song, rather than before a decent drop. The chorus, made up of the ‘My Photograph’ hook and the twinkling instrumentation, was also quite catchy and was my pick for the highlight of the song. Overall, it was still a decent song. (8/10)

5. Shadow – Interestingly enough, the album ends on a more serious note which was a surprise given their brightness level on the album so far. And that is also why the song stands out. The song also follows a different formula, opting for a dragged-out chorus consisting of the rapping only. It is a little different from what we heard so far, making the song unique and interesting. On top of that, the vocal and rap sequences outside of the chorus gave the song an extra punch of impact, which I thought was good. My most favourite part is the vocal/rap combo for the bridge, which really brought together. Overall, it worked really well and ended the album on a unique note. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

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Sensuous Teaser Image

recommended red round grunge vintage ribbon stamp

 

[Review] Now or Never – SF9

SF9 has returned with Now Or Never, which is the title track on their Sensuous mini-album, which was released today. The group has gone for a complete image change with their latest comeback compared with Mamma Mia, which was released back in February this year. I will be writing an album review for Sensuous and that will be released (hopefully) next week because the highlight melody is very promising.

I am really excited for this song because it has been a while since I have heard a fantastic song from the group. Right off the bat, I am impressed with this song as it appeals to me taste immediately. The opening line was amazing and definitely upholds expectations I have for the song. While the instrumental was predominately electronic  club synths featuring a  mysterious vibe, I could hear a layer of R&B at the bottom, which probably gave the song that seductive nature. To me, the song contains a dynamic chorus. The first part (which could easily be a pre-chorus) featured the drop of the century (yep, you heard it first here) which created a nice level of suspense. It was followed up with an upbeat and funky vocal pop vibe second half. The rest of the song follows the same sound yet it does grow as it is hyped along. Vocals and raps were all fitting. Finally, I liked how the song ended as it returns as a full circle to the start of the song, which I thought was cool. Overall, Now or Never is my new favourite song.

The new image change is reflect in the music video. There is a mysterious vibe which definitely adds to the song’s appeal. I really liked all the different scenes and how they were interlinked with various transitions. The use of a dominate colour in each scene was spectacular, perfect for Summer yet makes the otherwise serious song pop out of its shell. Something that needs to be acknowledged is their confidence shown throughout the video. It makes them look more sexier and adds an extra layer of appeal for the viewers to be left shaken. Overall, it was a good video.

The choreography looks amazingly perfect for the song. I am astounded when I first saw the music video and it made me jump straight for their showcase. And that left me wanting more. I really liked the Michael Jackson infused intro (seen at the showcase) and the moves overall were just so sharp. My favourite part was how well-timed the moonwalk during the performance was.

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

 

 

[Review] Mamma Mia – SF9

SF9 has made their retro return with their latest comeback single, Mamma Mia. This comeback also features their fourth mini-album, which shares the same name as the title track. We last saw them with their Latin-inspired O Sole Mio comeback in October last year.

SF9’s last few comebacks have impressed me. Unfortunately, Mamma Mia is disappointing for my taste and doesn’t follow this trend. While it isn’t necessarily a bad song, it is quite boring and doesn’t really keep me interested. There are a few aspects of the song that seem to contribute directly to this boredom feeling. The first is the instrumentation. There is literally nothing for me to rave about this retro instrumental. For the most part, I don’t think it has enough to be considered retro. Instead, it felt like a simple beat with a few added details (such as the guitars) to give it that retro vibe. They honestly could have gone with something retro (some electric guitars to make the chorus more memorable) and powerful, which would have been in line with their previous works. The main focus seems to be shifted towards the vocals and raps. And the vocals were okay at best but the raps were quite good. If only the song had the instrumentation to back up the raps and give hype to the song. The song wasn’t that catchy, falling right into a ‘standard’ predicament. The only part which I thought was a decent hook was the ‘Clap Clap Clap yo‘. But it seemed underused in the song. Overall, it was a weak song that just left me disappointed.

The music video also leaves me disappointed. There just seems to be a lot going on in this music video. Some of the members were involved in the fighting over stolen goods, keeping their car clean, window shopping in an excessive manner, hockey playing, dancing in the public and painting lips on a statue. While together they tried to go down the comedic route, these scenes do not go cohesively together. The only scene which I thought could have complimented the retro sounds of the song was at the start when they were standing on the portable moving stairs. Also, we need to sit down and talk about the mullet and dreadlocks. Even in history, the mullet should never have occurred. As for the dreadlocks, he just doesn’t rock it. Sorry, I had to say that but I had to get it off my chest.

[Updated] It was a fun performance to watch. The members looked like they were genuinely having fun on stage. It wasn’t that cringe-worthy and complicated as the music video. Though, I did think they underused the chairs during the performance, which could have made for a better performance.

Song – 4/10
Music Video – 4/10
Performance – 7/10 [Updated]
Overall Rating – 4.6/10 [Updated]

[Review] O Sole Mio – SF9

Joining the mass comeback lineup for this week is SF9 with their latest track O Sole Mio.  The boys previously made their comeback with Easy Love a few months back, which has become one of my favourites of this year.

O Sole Mio is a Latin-infused dance track that manages to captures the listener’s attention. As Latin isn’t a much of an influence in KPOP, the idea of it and its overall sound was very fresh. And they didn’t mess around with the infusion, going straight to the point with its instrumental. The mix of dance electronic seems to give it a more modern and keeps grounded as a KPOP dance track. It actually took a few listens to actually become comfortable but it got there in end nonetheless. The vocals were solid but I think the winner in this song has to be the rapping. I don’t know why but I associate a rough and deep voice when it comes to songs like this and the rappers delivered with that. The most disappointing moment in the song would have to the “Oh ya ya ya” part midway into the chorus, which felt like it cut into the chorus a little too much. Overall, it is a solid song from the group, adding to their list this year.

The music video is a little confusing. One moment they are in the desert, the next inside a church, the next inside a pretty nice looking hallway, next minute they are in a plane graveyard. I don’t know if they were going down the apocalyptic route with the video, it felt like that. But besides that, everything else in the video looked decent. The filter that was placed on top of the video kind of made things hazier, which I think indicated the presence of heat. And as stereotypical as it sounds, the Latn sounds go well with the heat and desert imagery throughout the video. Once again, not entirely sure what is going on in the video, but it was a nice one to watch.

The choreography for this comeback was pretty good. It wasn’t as amazing as expected, but it had the aesthetics appropriate for the song. There use of their outfit throughout the performance is commendable. It looked cool in the music video due to the wind, so I am wondering how they are going to replicate that same effect if they can’t use fans.

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

[Review] Easy Love – SF9

SF9 has returned with their second comeback this year. They previously made their return to the stage with Roar. This time they are promoting Easy Love, from their second mini-album, Breaking Sensation.

Easy Love is probably their most solid song to date. I didn’t mind the group’s past title track, but they were dominated by synth sounds that I sadly never got to connect with. I hate to say that the instrumental was more ‘traditional’ sounding, but the group opted for a less synth dominated instrumental, which made it easier to get into the track. The song also had a cleaner melody, which I enjoyed. It sadly did sound generic at times, but I liked it for its cleaner sound. The chorus was probably the best part. It was catchy and definitely was the kick the song needed. The verses didn’t captivate me. But once the chorus kicked in, it gave me nostalgic feels, as it made the song sound something that could have been released back in the 2009 or 2010. The raps were quite good here, which is similar to my comments in their other reviews. However, the vocals have been parts that I was never fond of. But this time around, the vocals sounded a lot better. Both the raps and vocals style here give the group a more mature side and both showed me the level of improvement of the group since debut so far. The start of the song probably left the biggest impression for me, which made it quite memorable. And in combination with the chorus, it makes it hard to not go back.

The video is full of anger and angst, which matches the lyrics of the song quite well (the song is all about how cruel love can be). Hence the video is made up of closeup shots of the members stuck in the moment and can’t get over their breakup. So, there isn’t much going on in the video. The choreography shots are probably the only thing that has me coming back (more on that later).

The choreography is really good. It is fitting for the song. There really isn’t much to talk about, but it looks good. The dance may not be sharp or extremely powerful. Instead, the anger I mentioned before is subtly there and it goes a long way, making the performance look cool.

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

[Review] Fanfare – SF9

Another male rookie that I missed out this year. SF9 made their debut in October of this year. They are the first dance group to debut under FNC Entertainment, which also houses CN Blue, FT Island, N.Flying and AOA. The group consist of 9 members and the lineup includes: Youngbin, Inseong, Jaeyoon, Dawon, Rowoon, Zuho, Taeyang, Hwiyoung, Chani.

Fanfare is the title track of their debut release. The song is okay. Overall, it doesn’t really stand out from other debuts. It just doesn’t make me go wow or make me feel interested in the band (I say this but I will continue looking out for them for reviews). Closely inspecting the track for this review, I noticed that for the first time in a very long, I think the rapping in the song sounds a lot better than the vocal work.  The vocals just seemed a little flat. That being said, the song does have its moments. The “Lalalala Fare Fare FanFare~” is quite catchy and the instrumental stands out in the crowd. It is a nice mix between dance and hip-hop. To me, it is quite an intense instrumental, which makes the song is quite strong. I personally think it is a song that did show off particular sides to their band. If only the vocals were a little more defined and shown off a little more, I think the song would have been better.

Honestly, the video is a little bland for my taste. But from what I see, the video matches the song quite nicely. The combination of those scenes with not much going on (surprisingly), the choreography scenes and camera work makes the video seem quite intense, matching the same intensity I mentioned above, in the song. I hope there isn’t a plot to the video. Because from what I see, it is just them gathering each up to tag a wall. It also looks like they took the piece of the wall back to a warehouse. Yeah, not going to ask questions over there.

The choreography shares that level of intensity and actually, I think it looks really cool. It is quite impressive as well.

Rating – 6/10