[Album Review] The Story / The Story: Retold (1st Studio Album / 1st Studio Album Repackaged) – KANG DANIEL

KANG DANIEL is nominated for Best Male Soloist, whilst Upside Down has been nominated for Best Solo Choreography (Male) for the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support KANG DANIEL, and your other favourite artists, songs and performance by clicking here to vote today.

After many months, I am finally writing my overdue review of The Story, KANG DANIEL’s first studio album. The album was released back in May of this year and features 10 tracks, lead by Upside Down. The album was then recently re-released as The Story: Retold in November, featuring the addition of 5 new tracks which includes the title track Nirvana. I will keep the introduction short today, in fear that if it goes for any longer, I might end up posting it five months down the track. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on KANG DANIEL’s first studio length album. (Note: in terms of track listing, I have used the repackaged album version of the tracklist.)

1. ParadeClick here to read the full review for Parade. (9/10)

2. SelfishSelfish was a nice pop track to ease into. The initial few seconds of the track had me thinking this was going to be a playful and whimsical sound. But as Selfish progresses, the heaviness of the bass and the trap elements say otherwise. But there is a bit of a sway to the song and its melodies that does potentially go in that direction. I also like how inviting KANG DANIEL’s vocals were in this song. (8/10)

3. Upside Down (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Upside Down. (7/10)

4. Loser (ft. Dbo)Loser is a R&B pop track, which starts off with the melodic chorus. And this chorus definitely was quite promising. The rest of the track follows through consistently, which I am not troubled by. But it does make the track slightly dull, relatively to the rest of the album. Dbo brings a bouncy rap segment to the song, which does help shake up the song ever so slightly. I did like how Dbo kept his presence in Loser ongoing by echoing and providing some ad-libs. Best part of Loser comes at the end when both Dbo and KANG DANIEL approaches the song with deep vocals, which gave depth to the song. (7.5/10)

6. Don’t Tell (ft. JESSI)Click here to read the full review for Don’t Tell. (9/10)

6. Nirvana (ft. pH-1 & WDBZ) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Nirvana. (9/10)

7. Ride 4 U – Out of all the songs on the albums, Ride 4 U was the one that attracted most attention from me. It is to the point where I am quite surprised and disappointed that it didn’t get the music video treatment like some of the other side-tracks. Ride 4 U opens with some ‘Oooo’ courtesy of the backing vocals, which I thought was quite iconic. The melodies, especially around the title of the song, were quite memorable and is the one thing that I really took away from the album. I quite enjoyed the simplicity of this track with the way KANG DANIEL approaches the song. As for the instrumentation, I really liked the pairing of twinkling detailing and atmospheric synths, which in my view, hits different. (10/10)

8. How We Live (ft. Sokodomo)Click here to read the full review for How We Live. (8/10)

9. Mad (ft. Chancellor)Mad is the first song on the album that really goes hard, in my opinion. I felt the synths were a lot rawer and came together to create something that just got straight to the point. It was also quite intense in its own right. I quite liked how the instrumental was stripped down the track to make the acoustic guitar’s presence more known. This kept Mad interesting, even though you can hear guitar in the background amongst the synths. Chancellor’s featuring and KANG DANIEL do an amazing job to give this song life. Mad’s main hook, ‘Why are you so mad’ is definitely a memorable point of the song that really stays with you, even as we move to the next song. (10/10)

10. 1000x1000x serves as the first ballad of the album, but it doesn’t fall into your typical boundaries of a ballad. Instead of the classical tropes of the ballads, 1000x opts for paced synths in its instrumental. It keeps the song interesting, though I feel like the synths were a bit too loud as it almost drowns out KANG DANIEL’s vocals in my opinion. Talking about vocals, KANG DANIEL’s were amazing throughout and you can feel the emotions behind his voice. The chorus, in particular, had heft to it and the melodies were quite remarkable. (8/10)

11. Ghost Ghost is another heavy bass track. However, there is a bit more to Ghost than just bass, thanks to the atmospheric synths that make up the instrumentation of Ghost. KANG DANIEL’s vocals are shown off quite nicely in Ghost and the melodies just make the song so beautiful. We also get a taste of rapper KANG DANIEL, though I do wish the rapping portion of the song was more substantial, just to give the song an extra layer of appeal. But Ghost as it is, is a stunner. (8.5/10)

12. MomentMoment is another ballad, and this one is more on the typical side of the balladry genre. Guitar, piano and backing vocals make up most of the instrumental of Moment, and this was another stunning arrangement on this album. Ballads tend to highlight the vocals, and Moment did an exceptional job of this. Again, you can feel the emotions behind his vocals and I really enjoyed the way his voice carries you throughout the song.  I am a sucker of ballads, and I feel it is ballads like this that prove my point to why ballads are such an underrated aspect of KPOP. (10/10)

13. The Story – It is interesting to see that The Story got bumped to the fourteenth position on the repackaged album, despite being introduced as the opening track of the original album.  Anyhow, The Story is a very cool track. The use of synths in this song really encapsulates that descriptor, which gives The Story a very appealing side. I really enjoyed how the synths were used texturally. The pop-centric chorus was definitely a highlight, especially how it shifted the song’s trajectory. KANG DANIEL’s vocals were shown off once again. Though, my favourite part of The Story has to be the pre-choruses, which added a tinge of playfulness to the song. I think The Story could have used a harder hitting rap sequence, just to give it a more powerful element to it. (8.5/10)

14. Ride 4 U (Remix) – Refer to my comments on Ride 4 U above. This track did not count towards the overall album rating below.

15. Nirvana (Solo Version) – Refer to full review for Nirvana. This track did not count towards the overall album rating below.

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

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