[Album Review] SCENE26 (3rd Mini Album) – Lee Jin Hyuk

The next album which I wanted to delve into for a closer listen is Lee Jin Hyuk’s recent comeback with SCENE26, his third mini-album since his solo debut in 2019. At the forefront of this mini-album is 5K, which dropped with the mini-album at the start of April 2021. Personally, I am not a fan of his releases in the past (which includes I Like That and Bedlam) and this detered me from sitting down to write an album review for those past mini-albums. But as I was vetting albums by a casual listen recently, I was drawn to a few tracks on this mini-album that caught my attention. Furthermore, 5K garnered the most positive review I had for Lee Jin Hyuk since his solo debut. So with those factors combined, I am excited to finally sit down to have a closer look at one of Lee Jin Hyuk’s mini-albums.

SENSE26 Album Cover

1. 5K (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for 5K. (7/10)

2. Silence – If 5K’s tone was playful and fun, then Silence is edgy. The second track on the album is an EDM track, which isn’t really the ideal genre to push for some ‘silence’. In fact, I really like how loud this track ended up being. There is also a lot of character to the song, which isn’t standard with typical EDM song. There is just something more to the song that I find very exciting. I really like the layering of all of the rough and harsh synths and textures, which creates an energy that sounded like it could easily have fitted into an intense, suspenseful and ‘edge of your seat’ type of action movie. For Lee Jin Hyuk himself, his rapping was quite dynamic and robust. And he too inserted a lot of character into the song himself. (9/10)

3. Asteroid (소행성)Asteroid is my favourite track on the album. While his vocal work at the very start wasn’t really the best foot forward, the rest of the vocals were extremely fitting for this rock song. I really like the harshness/roughness of his vocals, which make it fitting for the rock genre. And he sounds so good throughout the rest of the song that I am willing to overlook that tiny detail at the start. The rock instrumental is relentless and powerful, blasting us with energy from practically the first second. Altogether, everything felt like an anime OST. And I would be willing to watch any anime with a lead in track like Asteroid. (10/10)

4. HATI-HATIHATI-HATI is a blast of intense hip-hop energy. If you are a person is easily overwhelmed with intense songs, then this one might not be for you. But if you enjoy that thrill, then definitely check out HATI-HATI. For me, I don’t mind being blasted by energy, but I much prefer the song’s more melodic moments in the pre-choruses and bridge. That being said, Lee Jin Hyuk really pushes himself to deliver lines that really stand out on top of the instrumentation, showcasing an ability that definitely can be helpful with some songs. On top of that, his rapping was impeccable and definitely shows promise. (8/10)

5. Be Half Awake – We return to a more playful and fun track, allowing us to take a break from all that intense energy from the pervious songs. It isn’t my personal favourite song on the album, as I felt that the harshness in his tone was competing with the synths and instrumental. Sometimes they clashed, and this was a jolt of sound that I personally did not enjoy as much. Be Half Awake‘s more melodic moments were appreciable. But once again, it is rapping that steals the show for me in this song. I just wished the energy from both the song and Lee Jin Hyuk was toned down a bit to gives us more of an opportunity of a break from the album’s intensity. (6.5/10)

6. Wave (끄덕) – If I were to pick a song which showed off his rapping off the most, then Wave would be my pick. His rapping in this song is definitely his best work yet. The energy, the character and the charisma are all showcased in this song to a high degree. If he had started off his solo career with a song like Wave, then I would have been an avid follower. I also like the underground vibes of this song, which is really cool. Not only was it a great style to showcase Lee Jin Hyuk’s talents, it is also very different from most rap songs we hear in a KPOP album. (9/10)

7. Coup-d’état (활) – In addition to ending the album, Coup-d’état was selected as the follow-up promotional song to end 5K promotions. The powerful and intense nature of the EDM that makes up Coup-d’état makes it a song that is extremely fitting for the stage. Actually, I think this would have been a strong contender for the title track position of this album The energy from this song would have been thrilling as the entrance track to SCENE26 and would have started everything with a bang! In addition to the intensity and stage-worthiness for this song, Coup-d’état also showcases Lee Jin Hyuk in an explosive manner that doesn’t feel like was capitalized in any of the above songs. We have heard impressive rapping from the soloist in the above songs, but I don’t think we have heard him like this before! (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

SCENE26 Teaser Image

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