Next up on the album review influx is ENHYPEN, who returned with BORDER: CARNIVAL (the group’s second mini-album since debut) at the end of April. Leading the album is the title track is Drunk-Dazed, which received a positive review from me. This album release follows the group’s debut at the end of November 2020 with Given-Taken and BORDER: Day One, which was also deemed as a very success debut based on the rookie awards they won within two months after their debut (Note; they will be considered for the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards New Groups Awards). And so the expectations for this comeback were high. Let’s see if they reached those expectations.
1. Intro: The Invitation – If you want creepy, the opening few seconds of The Invitation is probably after. The childish nursery-rhyme like melody feels like it was taken out of a movie about a haunted house where the ghost is a young child who tragically died many years ago. But while that does give chills, the song isn’t just a sample from a horror movie. It quickly develops into a hypnotic indie retro synth track, with the chanting ‘Feel like I am in paradise’ line that is quite catchy and Jake’s narration that invites you to the carnival. A great opener, if you ask me. Only downside is that it is short. (9/10)
2. Drunk-Dazed – Click here to read the full review of Drunk-Dazed. (8.5/10)
3. FEVER – FEVER follows the title track. It is also the follow-up promotional track to end their BORDER: CARNIVAL promotions and was given the music video treatment (which I will revisit in the future). FEVER starts off as a slow dance track, taking on what sounds like a R&B mix. The entire song is kept in this slow gear. It personally isn’t my cup of tea. But I guess fans would enjoy this sultrier and more mature vibe from the group that the slowness managed to bring out. I do wish we got to hear more of their vocals with less vocal processing. It did feel a bit much in this song, to be honest. (7/10)
4. Not For Sale – The next song on the album is Not For Sale, which seems to mash up more R&B with a tropical house influences this time around. It comes out to be a nice and pleasant mix, one to definitely enjoy in this current summer season. Once again, the vocals are heavily processed in this song. I am not sure why the producers felt it was necessary in this song. I felt the ENHYPEN members could have done an amazing job with rawer vocals. And as a result, I enjoyed the live performances more (they promoted this track during their comeback week). And it here that I find the song more wholesome sounding and warming, feelings in which I didn’t get initially when I listened to the official audio. (7.5/10)
5. Mixed Up (별안간) – For me, Mixed Up was the best side track on this mini-album. I found myself drawn to the rock vibes that we get in the song, peaking through the heavier hip-hop influence of the instrumentation. I kind of wished it was more dominate, especially since it made the pre-choruses feel so powerful. For once, I think the vocal processing is justified. It gave the song that tiny bit of rough texture that felt appropriate for the instrumentation. It also helped infuse some edge in the song. I found the beat and chorus to be memorable and catchy. Overall, a great addition to the album. (9/10)
6. Outro: The Wormhole – Leading out the album is The Wormhole. It is quite an atmospheric minute and half, and I liked how the song built upon itself. It gave off the effect as if you were being pulled into a hole, which essentially is a wormhole. Jake returns to narrate in this track. I do question the need for the vocal processing over a narration, as I found it hard to understand him (Note: I speak with an Aussie accent, so I think I can comprehend him pretty well). I felt that the instrumental did a good enough job of drowning his narration as it inclined. But I guess it could be an artistic choice. But overall, a great track that gets me excited for their future releases. (8/10)
Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10