[Album Review] CHECKMATE (5th Mini Album) – ITZY

ITZY is the next group to be getting the album review treatment this week. In particular, I am looking at ITZY’s fifth and most recent mini-album since their debut. Titled CHECKMATE, the mini album features both the Korean and English version of the title track, SNEAKERS, and an additional five tracks. This is the first album review for the group, since their first studio length album release in September of last year.

CHECKMATE is an okay mini-album. I get the impression that listeners got more out of the mini-album, whereas I enjoyed the title track more (compared to the rest of the mini-album). Interestingly, the original album cover (which featured the queen chess piece) was replaced with the pink album cover you see below. Personally, I feel like the pink album cover is terrible and I much prefer the original album cover – even if the concept didn’t match the title track. I guess I am against the world with this review. Let me know if you agree or disagree with me.

CHECKMATE Album Cover

1. SNEAKERS (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for SNEAKERS. (9/10)

2. RACER – For me, the coolest aspect of RACER was the chorus. This is thanks to the trap hybrid instrumentation and edginess it brought out of the song. In addition, the start of the second verse (i.e., with the autotuned muffled vocals) follows a similar vein. Unfortunately, the rest of the song does not live up to the same standard as the already mentioned parts. It all pretty much felt typical and cliché to me. The vocals and rapping didn’t elicit much from me, and I felt the groans at the end of the hooks were very cringy. (6/10)

3. WHAT I WANTWHAT I WANT settles for an electro-pop instrumental. I feel the cool and trendy descriptions that could not be applied to the entirety of the previous song can be applied to the entire instrumentation of WHAT I WANT. I particularly like the strong infusion of pop during the pre-choruses through the vocal melodies and the layering of instrumentation in the final chorus. Throw in some catchy repetitive hook that are keyed into your memory bank once this song is over, and you basically have a strong track. (8/10)

4. Free FallFree Fall begins with dramatic thumps that alludes to an intense atmosphere. At first, I thought this meant the song was going to feature a mature change up to the album. But we don’t get that whatsoever. ITZY brings their usual bright and youthful energy to Free Fall. But they do so in such a firm matter that any thought of the song being mature was long forgotten and that bright/youthful energy they bring takes full control of the song. The ‘Weee’ we get throughout the choruses were cringy at first, but I ended up warming up to them a fair bit. I am quite surprised I enjoyed this song. (8.5/10)

5. 365365 builds on what was alluded in the previous song, just without the initial dramatic start. As a result, this makes 365 the darkest sounding release on this album. It features an EDM instrumental that sounded like it had mechanical, metallic and robotic sound effects. The members themselves bring a hip-hop energy to the song. I did wish the song had bolder hooks and a more prominent peak, just to potentially take itself to a higher level. (7/10)

6. DOMINODOMINO’s instrumentation moves towards pop rock territory, but it just feels a tad on the pop side. The vibrant energy that comes from the instrumentation fits perfectly into the summer season. There was some good rhythm to the song, and the melodies were quite pleasant. I did think the vocals could have used a bit refinement. I personally felt during some parts the members were really pushing themselves, and I wished the producers took a moment to rethink those moments. It was slightly uncomfortable to listen to, if you really hone into the details. (8/10)

7. SNEAKERS (English Version) – Refer to the full review of SNEAKERS above.

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

CHECKMATE Teaser Image

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