The next album to on the reviewing block of this blog is HUTA’s (who is otherwise known as Lee Min Hyuk from BTOB) second studio album, BOOM. This album, alongside the title track of the same name, was released at the end of June of this year and features another eleven tracks. This is HUTA’s first major Korean release since completing his military enlistment, participating on the Kingdom: Legendary War and making a few comebacks with his fellow BTOB members through the singles Show Your Love, Outsider and (most recently) The Song.
All the songs on BOOM (the album) basically were all strong showing from the soloist, with the album receiving a 8.2/10 rating and most songs earned a 8/10 from me. This is quite consistent for the wide range of songs that HUTA had put on the album. I commend HUTA for doing this, as it proves to me (and all his fans and the listeners of BOOM) that he is more than just a rapper (not that he needed to as I am totally aware of his potential through BTOB’s works and his first studio album). Just through this album, we can easily see that he is capable of releasing an intense and powerful number that aligns with his rapper image, or flipping the switch to release some thing more delicate and peaceful.
1. I’m Rare – Kicking BOOM (the album) off is the short track I’m Rare, which packs a punch with its super energetic electronic instrumentation. I quite enjoyed how the song developed as it progressed, moving from a mid-tempo pace to a fast-paced track. This helped hyped the track and the album’s opening, which in turn got me excited for what is to come. HUTA’s rapping was quite dynamic and heightens the energy of the song, rounding out a very strong start to the album. (8/10)
2. BOOM (Title Track) – Click here for the full review for BOOM. (9/10)
3. Shadow – Third track into the album and I think we are treated to the album’s standout track. Shadow focuses on HUTA’s vocals, moving away from the rapping that dominated or stood out in the preceding two tracks. His vocals took a lowkey approach. They never really went further than how he started. While this might be something I raise as an issue usually, it worked well with the 80s synth-based instrumentation. That itself had the right amount of momentum to propel the song forward, but at the same time not feel too filling or intense. The melodies that HUTA brought to life with his vocals were quite chill and easy on the ears. I enjoyed everything from Shadow. (10/10)
4. Dear My Spring (넌 나의 봄이야) – Dear My Spring follows up Shadow and the two songs sounded quite similar in some regards. But the main difference between the two songs is that Dear My Spring is a lot sweeter sounding, and this basically came down to two aspects. Firstly, HUTA’s vocals brought a smile to my face and was quite soothing throughout the song. This works well with the topic of spring, which is what the song is based on. Secondly, the instrumental features a more acoustic feel which is synonymous with the Spring season, rather than an 80s synth instrumental. (8/10)
5. Secretly (그대가 모르게) – Secretly is a lovely track to follow the sweetness of the preceding track. HUTA sounds very charming and romantic in Secretly. I quite liked the bounce to the instrumental, and how it developed from just a simple piano instrumental piece into a livelier piece thanks to the addition of other instruments. All of this helped make Secretly more appealing to listen to. (8.5/10)
6. Is It Love? (사랑일까요) – Is It Love? is another romantic song on the album. It also doubles as a duet with fellow BTOB member, Lee Chang Sub. HUTA starts off the song with deep vocals, and subsequently reverts to his lovely vocals. Lee Chang Sub serenades with his vocals. I particularly liked it when Lee Chang Sub’s vocals peaks in the chorus, provides a high note and ad-libs to the end of the song. It was also nice to hear some rapping from HUTA in this song, especially since that has not been much rapping throughout this romantic side of the album. I wished there was a more memorable melody to the song, however. (7.5/10)
7. Firework (위험해) – Firework begins with a rather sinister yet moody atmosphere. Once Firework reached the chorus, it changed itself up by going with an upbeat and slightly groovy house based instrumental. I really liked how engaging HUTA was in the chorus. There was a lot of personality and energy that he himself puts into the chorus, which made it stand out for me. Firework also features a really cool bridge, where HUTA was given an opportunity to intensify his rapping and delivery in a more natural manner. This gave Firework a bit of edge and definitely helped the song finish on an enticing manner. (9/10)
8. Real Game (Like Messi) – Real Game brings a more consistent and dynamic energy to the album. It is a short number, spanning only just over 2 minutes. But I quite liked how it gets straight to the point, launching right into the chorus and the aforementioned energy. And I liked how it doesn’t let up. HUTA follows through with a consistent delivery of his lines, yet his rapping just intensifies everything to just be so alluring. I know we were constricted by time, but I would have liked the ending just to have a bit more oomph to close out the song appropriately. (8/10)
9. Us Together (우리 함께 걸어요) – We revisit the likes of the first half of the album with another sweet song. I find Us Together to be nicely instrumented with the pop instrumental it went for. A bit plain, but it works well with the rest of the song. HUTA showcases soft vocals throughout, which sounded very soothing. A different instrumental would have easily overpowered the vocals. There is also rapping in the song, which might make you think would have done the overpowering instead. But HUTA was careful in approaching the rapping in a suitable manner for Us Together and the sweeter pop sound of the song. (8/10)
10. Red Wine – When I first saw the title of this song, I was expecting a more mature track. While the R&B genre that Red Wine did go for is typically mature, Red Wine was more so upbeat and bright. The synths gave the song a subtle disco tinge, which ended up being quite fun to listen to. The brass detailing was also a highlight in this song. HUTA’s delivery also adds to this, and this helped make Red Wine a fine song to listen to. If anything, I wished there was stronger hooks in Red Wine, as I felt the hooks we got in Red Wine were lacking. (7.5/10)
11. Stay (기다리고 있어) – Stay was previously released in Japan, as the lead single from his solo debut mini-album in Japan. For this album and its release in Korea, it was rewritten with Korean lyrics. Everything in this song can be described as nice and pleasant, which is all very much different to the likes of BOOM (the title track). But aside from that, there wasn’t really much else to comment in the song. (7/10)
12. Hello and Bye (끝 눈) – Completing the 12-song length studio album is Hello and Bye. It is another pleasant number, this time tapping into the balladry side of music. I liked the dreamy nature of the instrumentation, which is made up of piano, a bit of percussion and a light sprinkling of synths. HUTA’s vocals a very soft and fitting for the ballad genre in this song, particularly when they get breathy. Overall, it closes the album on a very soothing and calming note. (8/10)
Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10