[Album Review] New Challenge (4th Mini Album) – Infinite

It is time for another past album review (PARs). Last two weeks, I have been focusing on groups who have disbanded. And while I could continue that, I want to also focus on the groups that are still active (or supposedly active). Infinite is one of these groups who are in a weird limbo. Some members are actively promoting, while others are in the military. More recently, L moved on from Woolim Entertainment (the company managing  Infinite), placing a question mark on top of the group’s future, despite L confirming that he is still part of the group. Nonetheless, Infinite still many albums to look at and that is what we will be doing today. The group’s fourth mini-album, New Challenge, was released in 2013 with Man In Love.

New Challenge Album Cover

2. Man In Love (남자가 사랑할때) (Title Track) – Rereading my past review, I am very confused about what I meant myself. So, to keep it short, Man In Love has grown immensely on me. Not immediately after the initial review, but a few months (maybe years) after the release. It still is a change-up no one saw coming, given their past darker releases that came before and after Man In Love. Vocally, I think the song is fine (now) and the rapping is still a highlight for me. I thought the retro sound was appealing and the upbeat nature was a welcome change after all. These comments are drastically different from what I had originally, but if you want to see what I wrote previously (ignore the hypocrisy), click here to read the original review. (9/10)

3. As Good As It Gets (이보다 좋을 순 없다)As Good As It Gets is a decent track. It isn’t amazing. But it isn’t terrible. It is like the Goldilocks of the tracks on the album, which I think is rather fitting given the title of the song. It follows the title track in a sense that it is wholesome and lively. At the same time, however, the song doesn’t push itself to be better. It stays very consistent throughout. And in this case, it doesn’t work well with the track. The instrumental takes a rock pop approach, which I was good. It felt very typical, especially in comparison to other songs on the album. But it was a good canvas for the vocals. The singing together for the chorus was a good technique, as it added more colour to the song. The members alone sounded quite nice. The rapping was quite good as well, but it didn’t feel necessary. There are two sides to this track, which is why I label as decent. (7/10)

4. Still I Miss You (그리움이 닿는 곳에) – One thing that I am not exactly sure if you know about me. But I always love Infinite ballad, regardless of the lyrics. Their voices are very versatile and hence can fit multiple genres. And it is always nice to hear them attempt something so strong through their title tracks and then successfully nail their more fragile ballads perfectly. Unfortunately, Still I Miss You is one of those outliers that just doesn’t meet that benchmark. It is a nice ballad, but it doesn’t capture the best of the group. It felt very typical and the melody didn’t feel special. While some members shined, others didn’t really do as well in the song, which I think is another letdown. The instrumental was a lot more lively than the ballads that I listen to often from Infinite, which I guess was required to fit into the album. (7/10)

5. Beautiful – The vocals and instrumental start from the very first second, expressing how their partner leaves them in awe with their beauty. Given their previous tracks, this one follows the title track in being of the unexpected nature. But I guess some brightness doesn’t hurt from time to time. Harmonies are given to us at the start of the chorus and I thought the song zoned into the vocals quite well. Instrumentally, I thought it was a little standard. It felt more like a b-side track than anything else, honestly speaking. So, it wasn’t necessary memorable back then or now. But still, another decent track. (7/10)

6. 60 Seconds (60초) (Infinite Version)60 Seconds was previously the title track from Kim Sung Kyu’s first solo album. A song that I do come back to every so often because it is so damn good. So, to hear that the group would be releasing a version themselves was a pretty big deal back then. And it was a version that I enjoyed. The harmonies and the vocals of the individual members were shown off. Hoya and Dongwoo also introduced a rap sequence into the song to give it some additional depth of appeal. The instrumental remained the same between the two versions, keeping it consistently good throughout. (9/10)

7. Inconvenient Truth (불편한 진실) – Opening this track up is a female’s laughter and a very vibrant set of horns. It brings forward a very retro sound, which is Infinite’s forte for this album. The song shows the members in an unimpressed state because of their lover, with the laughter at the start present to tease the members. Despite, the song is very lively and energetic. I thought the chorus was nice, with all the members singing together. It did feel a little childish at times, from my perspective, which is something I am a little disappointed in. I also wanted more to the song, given how it was very consistent throughout. The fading out ending didn’t really wrap things up in a manner that I would have liked it. All of this felt made it feel like there should have been one more song coming right after, so it leaves a gap at the end of the album. (6.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.6/10

New Challenge Teaser Image

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