[Album Review] CONNECTION (2nd Studio Album) – UP10TION

It is the weekend, and weekends are when I write my album reviews. And first up this weekend is UP10TION’s second studio-length album, CONNECTION. The group released the album, which featured the title track SPIN OFF, mid-June of this year. It is the group’s first comeback since in almost a year (the last being Light in September of last year) and three years after the release of their first studio album (Invitation, lead by the single Candyland) in 2018. Alongside SPIN OFF, CONNECTION also included nine other new tracks, including three exceptional unit tracks from the group. CONNECTION features only seven members, with Kim Wooseok and Lee Jin Hyuk still absent from the lineup and Jinhoo still on a health-related hiatus.

CONNECTION Album Cover

1. SPIN OFF (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of SPIN OFF. (9/10)

2. LiarLiar is one of those standard dance tracks that satisfies but doesn’t necessary blow your mind. It has a bit of a groovy flair in its house-based instrumentation, which helped the song be more appealing. I also felt a sense of smoothness in the song thanks to the same flair, especially during the pre-choruses of the song (which were also the most memorable part of Liar). The vocals and rapping work was pretty good as well, adding a heavy tone to the song, which in turn works well with the lyrics (i.e. the song is all about the feeling of being betrayed by their lover). (7/10)

3. Summer DriveSummer Drive is an appropriately titled pop track and gives off the perfect feel for a road trip or a summer nights drive where you just want a blast on the road from your speakers. Summer Drive already starts off with a good level of energy, but the chorus incorporates a bit more to make the song more satisfying and upbeat. The rapping in the second verse stood out for me, as I felt the rappers balanced out the song by adding in an appropriately level of oomph that works well with the rest of Summer Drive. (8.5/10)

4. Parade – I liked how wholesome Parade felt. I recommend Parade if you are looking for a synth-based track that isn’t forceful or high impact. It is another satisfying pop song, with a smooth tone that carries you along for the length of the track. It is also a super easy track to get into and appreciate. The rapping and vocals were really nice, and contribute to that overall wholesome appeal of the song. I do have one minor gripe about Parade however. I am not liking how they added the deep autotune backing to some of the vocals/raps. It didn’t feel necessary and undermined the smoothness of the track. (9/10)

5. Destroyed – Compared to the songs before and after it, Destroyed has this dramatic and epic flair to it, which ultimately made it stand out on the album. It started off calm with a piano backing, before building up to the dubstep infused chorus. Bridging the two was an orchestral/electronic mix, which I thought was clever at joining the two extremes. I anticipated that the song would build up once those electronic thumps made themselves apparent, but I still thought the dubstep side was a surprisingly element. (9/10)

6. If (만약) – The next song, If, is a ballad duet between Kogyeol and Hwanhee. It was a beautiful sounding song that captivates you. The ballad’s instrumental was exceptional. There was a jazzy touch to it, which helped give the instrumental a bit of a spark of colour and identity. This really helped If sound more appealing and interesting than your common everyday ballad. The vocals from the pair was also stunning. Their harmonies and chemistry in this song just made it even more captivating to listen to. (10/10)

7. Forever (혹시라도) – The album’s second unit track is by Kuhn, Sunyoul, Gyujin and Xiao. Forever is another beautiful sounding ballad, however this one leans towards pop more and has a bit more energy to it (as a result). I liked how each of the four members brought a different colour to the song. However, they all came together like puzzle pieces fitting correctly with one another. I also like how Forever elicit the swaying effect that I find in ballads and how easy it was to get into the song. (9/10)

8. Believe in YouBelieve In You features all the members (odd that it is placed between two unit tracks). It is also their most outstanding side track (as an eight-member group) on this album, from my perspective. I just love the bright colours in this song, brought to you by their energetic vocals and the pop rock styled instrumentation. The melodies and hooks were exceptionally easy to get into and enjoy. A surprising number given its placement, but definitely a gem on this tracklist! (10/10)

9. Sky Line – The final unit track on the album is a duet between Kogyeol and Bit-to. And out of the unit tracks, it is the one that I would definitely recommend to you! I really like the contrast between the synths and the acoustic guitar in the instrumentation. Both elements were distinct in their own right, but they worked really well with one another. Kogyeol and Bit-to’s delivery was also exceptional. Kogyeol’s vocals added freshness to the song, while Bit-to’s rapping delivery and deep tone kept the song grounded. (10/10)

10. Honey Cake – Ending the album is a pop track that has a pleasant and fun bounce to it. But I felt like Honey Cake had a bit too much going on during its chorus. Everything else about Honey Cake was great, but the chorus was overwhelming for me. Will that stop me from liking the song, overall? Nope. It was still a great song to end the album on, though it could have been executed a bit better. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

CONNECTION Teaser Image

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