[Album Review] Equal (1st Mini Album) – WOODZ

A month ago, WOODZ (aka. Cho Seung Youn) returned as a solo artist with his first mini-album, Equal. It featured the title track Love Me Harder (link for it down below). And now a month from its release, it is time for its album review. I hope this comeback has not been swept under a rug. Both the song and album (which I can say from today) is very underrated and needs more attention! But for those who may still be unfamiliar with WOODZ, here is a quick introduction. He is a member of UNIQ (the group currently on hiatus, and each member is focusing on solo activities) and was formerly apart of X1 (which has now disbanded). He has been active previously as a solo artist during the time between UNIQ and his appearance on Produce X 101, where he placed 5th overall. But the difference now is that his popularity has skyrocketed as a result to Produce X 101 and X1. And now, here is the review!

Equal Album Cover

1. Lift Up – For an opening track, Lift Up basically holds my attention hostage from whatever I was doing prior to listening to the song. I find that to be a very positive feature of the song, as that is what I want with the first track on the album. The start features a heavily autotuned deep voice, breathy sounds and dramatic strikes of instrumentation. We then move into the verses, which is probably what I want to describe as the ‘calm before the storm’, with the storm being the shouty chorus we get in Lift Up. It might be overwhelming the first time around for some, but I really like the thrilling nature. I liked the rough texture his voice brings to the song and the different textures we get in the background throughout the song, as well (such as the barking dogs and the flute in the second verse). It adds something different and captivating around each corner. I would have liked it if his pronunciation was a little clearer in the chorus. It didn’t occur to me that he was singing/shouting English lyrics until I searched up the lyrics. This was the only issue I had with Lift Up, otherwise it would have been deemed a 10/10 song. (9.5/10)

2. AccidentAccident is a smooth R&B track, placed cleverly after the intense and possibly overwhelming start to this album. It provides relief but does so in a way that continues the R&B momentum of the album. It starts off with a rock sound and it brews with that mindset. But it settles for the R&B as it progresses and loses that idea of going in a rock direction. Sure, this track may not be as powerful sounding song. But the lyrics are definitely quite heavy and may be as abrasive as how the preceding track sounds. Based on what I can understand, it seems like there is a toxic relationship, where pain is inflicted by one side and the other side accepts the pain as an ‘accident’. Not really a good message to put forward but it shows how willing one would go to get to know someone (but alas, in a twisted way). Aside from that, Accident show WOODZ’s vocals in a very memorable and epic manner. You can sense desperation and willingness in this voice, which would suit the twisted message that the song has. (9/10)

3. Love Me Harder (Title Track) Click here to read the full review for Love Me Harder. (9/10)

4. NOID – For some reason, the start of this song takes me back to Mamamoo’s HIP. Though, NOID is a lot darker and sinister. Once again, it delves into the R&B genre. But there is a groovy and subtle upbeat energy to the song. What the song does best is it shows off WOODZ’s vocals in an impressive manner. It compliments that subtle upbeat nature that I had mentioned just before as his vocals provide a slight kick to the song as well. And altogether, it is a good song. But in comparison to the rest of the album, I felt NOID was a little safe. This is more of an observation and I personally don’t mind this ‘safe’ connotation. It helps keeps the album grounded and doesn’t overload us with sounds or songs that could overwhelm us. (8/10)

5. Waikiki (ft. Colde) – With R&B being the main genre on this album, I was wondering when the sensual R&B vibes would kick in. Well, Waikiki answers that question. There isn’t much to the instrumental other than the clapping percussion and that very low humming we get in the background. We get more instrumentals added to the song as its progresses, but it isn’t really a massive difference. Despite its minimalist sounds, it is the artists that give the song its sensual vibes. Waikiki is driven by the melody that both WOODZ and Colde brings to the song via their delivery of their lines. I also found the contrast between the two artists to be very intriguing. WOODZ was at a somewhat higher pitch, while Colde stayed relatively low with his autotuned voice. It gives the song stability and really compliments the minimalist vibes. It isn’t my personal cup of tea, but it was very well executed. (8/10)

6. Buck (ft. Punchnello)Buck is very different to what we have heard so far on this album. It is very energetic and packs a subtle punch. It also feels quite experimental. It takes more of a hip-hop profile rather than the R&B we heard on this album. It feels playful and carefree, in a way. The beat also seems very jabby. Nothing feels elongated or lasts for a substantial amount of time (relative to the length of the track). And I quite like this effect. Buck also features Punchnello and he brings a fast tempo to the song with his delivery, whereas WOODZ sounded mid-tempo. I also like it when they reach the back end of their verses, which featured a little more energy and urgency in their delivery. It adds more energy to the song in a way that compliments their rapping delivery. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I find Buck to be a hidden gem on this album. (10/10)

7. Memories – WOODZ continues the divergence from the heavy R&B nature of the album with Memories. It is a ballad, as I had somehow expected from the title. I just had a feeling with such a sentimental title. What Memories (and this album, at large) has proven to me is how versatile WOODZ is. And this isn’t an observation of the songs. Even his voices have changed in each song, showing that he is fitting for many styles. In Memories, he sounds very blissful and his harmonies are breathtaking. Especially since he is rapper in both his previous groups. The instrumental is a little typical, going with a piano and drum set up. What I also enjoyed is the use of electric guitar throughout. It doesn’t make Memories unique, but I find it as a centerpiece to be quite refreshing. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

Equal Teaser Image

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