[Album Review] The Piece OF9 (12th Mini Album) – SF9

SF9 made their latest comeback in January of this year with the release of Puzzle (the title track – link below) and The Piece OF9 (the group’s 12th mini-album). Today’s album review focuses on this mini-album release. The Piece OF9 features a total of 6 tracks (including the title track) and seven of the nine SF9 members, as Youngbin and Inseong had enlisted into the military last year and Rowoon rejoined the group’s lineup after missing the promotions of SCREAM and The Wave OF9. Following this comeback, Jaeyoon also enlisted into the military.

The Piece OF9 is a particularly strong album release from SF9. I gave two songs a perfect 10/10 score and ranked the rest of the songs on the higher end of the spectrum. Find out how each song on The Piece OF9 ranked by continuing to read this post!

The Piece OF9 Album Cover

1. Puzzle (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Puzzle. (7.5/10)

2. Love Colour – The second track on the album is a really neat and rhythmic R&B pop piece. I liked the layering of the instrumentation, which was full of texture and felt subtly groovy. And yet, Love Colour manages to still be quite smooth thanks to the flow of the song and the members vocals, which were enjoyable. I also enjoyed the vibrant feel of the song, which allows this R&B piece to be more appealing than other R&B tracks out there. (8/10)

3. New WorldNew World is quite the shake-up following the likes of Love Colour. I get an epic revolutionary or an adventurous cinematic journey vibe from this anthemic dance track, which makes sense given the title of the song. The vocals and rapping were amazing, and gave off a sense of accomplishment, which was a great complement to the aforementioned vibes. A minor suggestion, but I think some more pronounced electric guitar riffs during the final chorus to electrify the end would have made New World even more epic. (9/10)

4. FighterFighter is the song on the album that you really need to turn the volume up and blast out loud! There is some serious charge to the song that comes off so subtle. The chorus is super addictive and gets the adrenaline pumping throughout your body. Even the verses had some momentum, and the rapping that featured in the verses was fire. The pre-choruses were appreciably smooth and another strong aspect of the song. A clear 10/10 for me. (10/10)

5. Tight (꽉) – We enter groovier EDM territory with Tight. The bass is also quite something. The marching drumbeats in the pre-choruses were a really nice bridge between this and the preceding song, and also built great momentum towards the choruses. The choruses were doubled down on the grooviness, and also had a fun tinge when the whistles kicked in. Again, the rapping and vocals are on point in this song, particularly Hwiyoung’s expressive rapping and Jaeyoon’s stunning high note. Another 10/10 song for me. (10/10)

6. Stay With Me (Jaeyoon Solo) – From a mile away, I could tell Stay With Me was going to be the balladry song on the mini-album. Stay With Me is also a solo single from Jaeyoon. It is a nicely instrumented with the traditional piano and band instrumentation. I quite liked the electric guitar in the background, which helped give it a less typical ballad feel. Jaeyoon vocals were heavenly, and you can feel the emotions that he poured into and out of the song. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

The Piece OF9 Teaser Image

[Album Review] Incense (3rd Mini Album) – MOONBIN & SANHA (ASTRO)

One of the first reviews I wrote this year was for Moonbin and Sanha’s Madness, which at the time, no one knew would be Moonbin’s final release before his unfortunate passing just a month ago. I contemplated for the last month whether I would write an album review for Incense, in case I had some negative things to say about one of the songs on the album. It wouldn’t seem respectful to the late artist (and likewise Sanha, who I am sure is still hurting over his friend and bandmate’s passing). But I am sure that Moonbin would want to enjoy his music even after he left. And I indeed enjoyed this mini-album release. Incense follows the release of WHO and REFUGE from last year.

Incense Album Cover

1. Perfumer – Kicking off the mini-album is Perfumer, which takes on the sexy side of the R&B genre. It is a short track, spanning only two minutes. But it is neat opener and it captures this side of the R&B quite well. The atmospheric instrumentation and the very sultry tone that the pair exudes through their vocals brings the sensual energy to life in Perfumer. I would have liked a more memorable ring to the song or maybe a memorable element, just to give Perfumer more of an edge. (7.5/10)

2. Madness (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Madness. (7.5/10)

3. Desire (이끌려)Desire is the first of two solo tracks we get from the members. Desire belongs to the late Moonbin, and ventures back into R&B territory. This time around, some pop influences also peek through, bringing more of an upbeat and playful vibe to the song. Moonbin’s vocals are really nice and clean in the track. The chorus also has a memorable ring, which emphasises that fun side to Desire. (8/10)

4. Wish (바람)Wish is Sanha’s solo track and it is a stunner. It is pop-rock ballad in which Sanha expresses his gratitude for the fans/AROHAs. The instrumentation had some really beautiful moments in its calmer moments and soared to some spectacular heights as the song progresses and a more prominent pop rock ballad sound could be heard. As for Sanha, his vocals were very captivating and you could feel how sincere he was. (10/10)

5. Chup Chup Chup Chup brings the two members of the unit back together through another pop R&B track. Chup Chup is also a start of the album’s more light and endearing side. The synths makes this a very bright and friendly track, while the duo showed us a more light-hearted and carefree tone. The hooks were cute and had a ring to them, thus tying the song together quite nicely. (8/10)

6. Your DayYour Day is the probably the most concentrated track, in terms of upbeatness and fun vibes, on this side of the mini-album. The pre-choruses pack a punch, while the chorus features a super nice and bright rhythmic disco instrumentation that I just want to dance to. Both Moonbin and Sanha make sure their vocals are bright and vibrant, giving the track an even more fun vibe. What I felt was lacking in Your Day was a more prominent hook, which could have taken the track to a whole new level. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

Incense Teaser Image

R.I.P Moonbin. You will be missed.

[Album Review] REASON (12th Mini Album) – MONSTA X

Welcome to the first 2023 album review of the year! Yes, I know it is May. And yes, this might technically not be the first 2023 album release to be reviewed this year. But it is the official start a more focused look at the 2023 releases. Starting my ‘focused look at 2023 releases’ is MONSTA X’s REASON, the group’s 12th mini-album, which was released in early January 2023. It is also the group’s first release since most of the members renewed their contracts with Starship Entertainment (with the exception of I.M, who chose to look elsewhere for solo promotions, whilst continuing activities with the rest of the group). The main single off the mini-album is Beautiful Liar, which also dropped on the same day. REASON follows the release of their SHAPE OF LOVE mini-album from 2022.

REASON Album Cover

1. Beautiful Liar (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Beautiful Liar. (8.5/10)

2. DaydreamDaydream features a creepy and haunting instrumentation, a complete shakeup if you were expecting something daydreamy. It is quite unsettling, but the track stands out because of this. As for the members, they do a decent job. I like that they do lean into the eerie vibes the song gives, telling us their desire to not wake up and realize their lover had left them. But I was expecting them to really kick Daydream up a notch. While they do go in that direction at certain moments, it doesn’t get Daydream anywhere, which is a bit of a disappointment. (7/10)

3. Crescendo (춤사위) Crescendo is your typical hip-hop track with a traditional Korean twist to the instrumentation. It is a really cool mash of traditional and modern, with both sides feeling very balanced and harmonious with another (as far as a hip-hop track can go). There was never a dull moment in the song. Alongside the instrumentation, MONSTA X kills it with the rapping and vocals, always bringing an unexpected surprise as the song progresses. A personal highlight on the album. (10/10)

4. LONE RANGER LONE RANGER incorporates a Wild West flair, giving the song a strong sense of character from the get-go. I like how it is more subtle than other songs that have the same influence, who tend to have it more in the forefront and in-your-face usually. The flair is paired with a relentless stomping beat, giving LONE RANGER intensity and propels the song forward. The vocals are very clean and deliver the catchy hooks effortlessly. Kihyun ended the song off amazingly with his ad-lib. The rappers of MONSTA X also do an amazing job as well, with Joohoney’s second verse rap sequence having a bit of a grow and an impact oomph in the song. (9/10)

5. DenyDeny tones down the album with a smoother approach and a jazzier undertone to its instrumentation. The song falls more into R&B territory. I like the glow that radiates from the vocalists, while the rapping gives Deny a really sleek vibe. It was an enjoyable track to listen to, overall. (8/10)

6. It’s Alright (괜찮아) – Ending on a happier tone, the album ends with the single It’s Alright where they talk about going back to their lover. The track keeps true to MONSTA X’s hip-hop roots. But this time around, they go with an old-school 90s vibe. And this makes the track so likeable. The melodies in this track are amazing, especially the English lines in the choruses. There is some really nice piano work in the background, which just adds a classy tone to the song. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

REASON Teaser Image

[Album Review] Indigo (1st Studio Album) – RM (BTS)

It has been a long time coming, but here are my thoughts on RM’s solo debut album. Released at the start of December 2022, Indigo follows the releases of mixtapes from RM back in 2015 (titled RM) and 2018 (titled Mono). It features 10 tracks in total, including Wild Flower and Still Life that I had already reviewed separately in their respective song review posts (links to both are below). The album itself is collaboration galore, with RM seeking the assistance of Erykah Badu, Anderson Paak, Tablo (from Epik High), Kim Sa Wol, Paul Blanco, Mahalia, Colde, Youjeen (from Cherry Filter) and Park Ji Yoon to tell some very deep and powerful messages in the songs that feature on the album. I think that pretty much says it all – Indigo is such an artistic and aesthetic album that explores so much in terms of lyrics, genres (though all come back to hip-hop in one form or another) and featuring artists. This is without a doubt a recommended listen.

Also, as I have previously mentioned time and time again in recent days, this will be the final album released in 2022 in which I will cover. Later this month, I will be turning my head towards the 2023 albums, which reviews are very much long overdue. But until then, here is what I have to say about Indigo.

Indigo Album Cover

1. Yun (with Erykah Badu) – Opening up the album is the single Yun. It explores a very chill, jazzy form of R&B. This track is stunningly smooth and I really enjoyed the glow that comes from the song. Alongside RM, Yun features the late Yun Hyong-keun as the narrator who we can hear at the start and end of the track. The song is also titled after him and whom RM draws inspiration from for this track, which explores the idea of going back to his younger days to rediscover his passion for music and art. Yun also features the Queen of Neo Soul, Erykah Badu, whom I understand does not collaborate with just anyone. Her vocals oozes so much charisma, as does RM in this song. (9/10)

2. Still Life (with Anderson .Paak)Click here to read the full review for Still Life. (9/10)

I couldn’t find the official audio link for Still Life on YouTube, so I have linked the music video here instead.

3. All Day (with Tablo)All Day packs a punch with its instrumentation. I always end up feeling the beat and head-nodding along to the song every time it comes on. I really liked the vibrancy of the song, with the beat and brass adding a liveliness to the song that feels super invigorating. The backing vocals in the chorus also have a similar effect. This alone makes the song one of my favourites from the album. All Day features the leader of Epik High, Tablo, who delivers his part with the same vigor as RM did in the song. The pair are super balanced and make an impact with their statement of fighting social pressures ‘all day’. (10/10)

4. Forg_tful (건망증) (with Kim Sa-wol) – RM trades in rapping for breathy vocals in Forg_tful, a ballad simply instrumented by an acoustic guitar. Folksy whistle also makes an appears, just to give the song just that something bit more. Just like every other ballad I have enjoyed during my time reviewing KPOP songs, the melody of Forg_tful has this subtle swaying effect, which already tells me that it is going to be success in my books. The song features folk singer Kim Sa-wol, who just has a beautifully delicate set of vocals. I really liked how RM bent his delivery to ensure it fits alongside Kim Sa-wol’s vocals, making Forg_tful quite a harmonious track. (8/10)

5. Closer (with Paul Blanco & Mahalia)Closer speaks towards the idea of wanting to be closer to someone who just isn’t the right person. The track comes in the form of an alternative R&B song which features the likes of Paul Blanco and Mahalia, who both sound great in the song. It took me a while to get into the song, unfortunately. Just because it feels plainer than the rest of the album. But once I did get there, it was such a nice track to have in the background. (7/10)

6. Change Pt. 2 – So far, the album has been quite heavy with featurings from other artists (and there are more to come!). But we finally hit the two solo tracks from RM himself. The first is Change Pt. 2, which is quite a unique textural change-up. It is an experimental track that kicks off with quite an abrasive and crunchy set of synths and electronica that was very much unexpected. This transforms into a jazzy piano number, before slowing down completely at the end. The experimental nature of Change Pt. 2 continues through RM’s slurred delivery. There is definitely charm to delivering the track this way and it is quite artistic. But it is quite overwhelmed when paired with the boldness of the Change’s instrumentation. Overall, quite a surprise. But one that I do like. (8.5/10)

7. LonelyLonely is quite an enjoyable pop number instrumentally, with the guitar work being such a prominent feature of the song’s background. The powerful nature of the pre-choruses was quite an impactful sequence and I liked how RM effortlessly switch back to the pop vibes for the chorus. RM’s vocals are amazing and well appreciated in this song. However, don’t let Lonely mislead you. Despite it being of pop vibes, the lyrics are quite pessimistic and weighty on the topic of loneliness. Altogether, it creates an interesting atmosphere, which makes it a favourite in my books. (10/10)

8. Hectic (with Colde) – The city pop instrumentation that features in Hectic is my favourite aspect of the song. The beat is quite addictive, and paired with the synths, Hectic just takes on a groovy undertone. I also enjoyed both RM and Colde’s husky vocal tone, which was another highlight of the track. Another strong track that shows off RM’s versatility and Colde’s appeal. (10/10)

9. Wild Flower (들꽃놀이) (with Youjeen) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Wild Flower. (10/10)

10. No.2 (with Park Ji Yoon) – Ending the album is the more positive No.2, which speaks of looking forward (rather than backwards). It is quite a comforting track, especially since the lyrics feature the line “You’ve done your best”. Park Ji Yoon’s nasally vocals shine in this song for me, while RM himself ensure the song stayed grounded. It is a nice closer to the album, and a nice ‘change of tune’ after the exploration of the heavy and deep messages that RM features on the album. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.1/10

Indigo Teaser Image

[Album Review] SKZ-Replay (3rd Compilation Album) – Stray Kids (Part. 2)

Yesterday, I posted the first part of a three part album review for Stray Kids’ 3rd compilation album, SKZ-Replay. That first part focused on the A-Side of the album, which featured the lead single FAM, a single previously unofficially released through a special YouTube video and 8 solo songs from each Stray Kids member. Today, I post the second part of the album review, focusing on the first half of the compilation album’s B-Side. As mentioned yesterday, B-Side consists of 15 songs from the SKZ-RECORD or SKZ-PLAYER web-series from a few years back. These songs have never been released digitally until the release of this album.

For the purposes of this album review, I will be posting the album review in three parts – Part 1 focused on the A-Side. Part 2 (this post) will focus on the first half of the B-Side, and Part 3 will focus on the second half of the B-Side. Also, there was no teaser images for this compilation album. So I have gone through and selected images from past promotions to serve as the featured and teaser images for the album review.

SKZ-Replay Album Cover

1. Zone (Bangchan, Changbin & Han) – Starting off the B-side of the album is Zone, which was previously revealed four years ago by 3RACHA. Personally, Zone isn’t my cup of tea. But it is decent hip-hop track that shows us who 3RACHA are and what they are about. The powerful energy they channel through this track is quite bold. Changbin, who has been nominated for Best Rapper in a few KPOPREVIEWED Awards, proves to me why he is constantly stands out and worthy of the award. (7/10)

2. Close (Han Solo) – Most of the appealing elements of Close comes from Han himself. The instrumental itself was pretty chill and lowkey. This allows Han to show off a deeper tone than what I hear from him usually, and his rapping was well done. I liked how he varied his delivery in the song, which keeps listeners interested in Close, rather than going from start to end in a flat or consistent manner. The song is about meeting stranger by chance, being drawn to them, and the desire to get closer to them. (8/10)

3. Streetlight (Changbin ft. Bangchan) – You don’t need to know the language to hear the heartfelt message and emotions that Changbin pour into Streetlight. But in case you are interested, you can read more about the song from Changbin himself in the linked SOOMPI article. I have opted to not summarise the meaning of the song into a few words, especially since it touches on the topic of seeking help and is already beautifully explained by the songwriter himself. As for the music, I liked how consistent the drumming is, and how beautiful the piano and orchestral influences are in the song. I also like how the instrumental doesn’t get into the way of the Changbin and the message he is trying to deliver. Plus, his flow and tone are quite impeccable. (9/10)

4. I Hate To Admit (인정하기 싫어) (BangChan Solo) – For this particular half of the B-Side of SKZ-Replay, I Hate To Admit is my favourite track. The way Bangchan delivered this ballad was so captivating and gripping. It is one of the songs where you need to stop whatever you are doing to take it all in. You can feel the heartbreak and heavy emotions that Bangchan relays to us. It practically pours from the song when it reaches its peak. The piano and strings were beautiful yet minimalistic, allowing Bangchan’s vocals to front and centre, which was an excellent choice. (10/10)

5. I GOT IT (Han Solo) – Again, Han focuses on raps in I GOT IT. In terms of instrumentation, it is a repetitive hip-hop background. Nothing really special. But that is not the reason why I like I GOT IT. It is more so the rapping that floors me. He really showcases his talents in this song. He shows off how expressive he can be and the fast tempo he throws at us is literally fire. The autotuned high-pitched rapping at the end of the song was very interesting, but charming in its own way. (9/10)

6. Miss You (꼬마별) (Hyunjin Solo) – This half of the B-Side has been pretty 3RACHA dominant thus far. It is not until the sixth track (this one, in particular) do we hear from someone else. And that someone is Hyunjin. Miss You is a song dedicated to Hyunjin’s first pet, who has since passed away. Miss You is a touching and delicately instrumented song. Not exactly ballad territory, but you can feel the reflective emotion behind Hyunjin’s raspy tone in the song. It is a comforting listen. Personally, Miss You is not a track I have gone back to since its initial release two years ago, but revisiting it was a pleasant experience. (7/10)

7. Maknae On Top (막내온탑) (I.N ft. Bangchan & Changbin)Maknae On Top is one of the two songs from the SKZ-RECORD series that is more recognisable then the rest. I.N is the main character in this one, with the entire song about him. I liked the colour and energy that the Latin influences bring. The combination of the influences with I.N’s playfulness makes this one fun and humourous track. And this effect is pretty much hard to avoid. Bangchan and Changbin also features in this track to help fuel the fun and humour, and the fact they feature in this track also helps reiterate the idea of the song that I.N is in fact the boss of the group. (8/10)

Overall B-Side Rating – 7.6/10 (this includes all songs from Part 2 and Part 3 of the album review, which focused on the B-side of SKZ-Replay)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

Teaser Image from Stray Kids’ Mixtape: On Track era

[Album Review] SKZ-Replay (3rd Compilation Album) – Stray Kids (Part. 1)

As mentioned in my review for FAM song review yesterday, I will be posting an album review for SKZ-Replay. This is a compilation album, consisting of a total of 25 tracks. It is led by the Korean version of FAM, which also dropped as a single on the same day at the end of December 2022 as the album release. Due to the length of this album, it is split into two halves – an A-Side and a B-Side. A-Side consist of 10 songs – the single FAM, a single unofficially released by Stray Kids in a Youtube video and 8 never-heard-before solo singles from each member. B-Side consists of the remaining 15 songs, all of which have previously been released as part of SKZ-RECORD or SKZ-PLAYER web-series from a few years back. These songs have never been released digitally until the release of this album.

For the purposes of this album review, I will be posting the album review in three parts – Part 1 (this post) will focus on the A-Side. Part 2 will focus on the first half of the B-Side, and Part 3 will focus on the second half of the B-Side. Also, there was no teaser images for this compilation album. So I have gone through and selected images from past promotions to serve as the featured and teaser images for the album review.

SKZ-Replay Album Cover

1. FAM (Korean Version) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for FAM (Korean Version). (8/10)

2. Connected (Bangchan Solo) – Bangchan’s Connected is a decent all-English EDM track. The choruses were by far the most likeable moments within Connected, bringing some cool synths and effects to the song. This is in stark contrast to the verses, which didn’t have much going on and was pretty forgettable to me. Even the rapping in the second verse didn’t ping me as a strong element. On the other hand, Bangchan does a good job with his vocals. He shows promise, delving into falsettos during one part of the song. However, I think there is a possibility to strengthen the song with a more memorable hook or melody. (7/10)

3. Limbo (나지막이) (Lee Know Solo)Limbo is the main reason why I decided to write an album review for SKZ-Replay. I was (and still am) impressed by Lee Know’s vocals in this track, mainly because he usually isn’t known his vocals in Stray Kids’ usual releases. However, the push he gives himself in the choruses strongly shows off his vocals and makes the choruses a highlight for me in Limbo. I wished there was more to the instrumental and the verses, as they were more on the typical side and lacked anything interesting. But despite that, it doesn’t change the fact that Limbo is a standout for me thanks to Lee Know himself. (8.5/10)

4. DOODLE (Changbin Solo)DOODLE was a bit of a weird one for me. I remember thinking that Changbin’s solo was going to be an immature and childish sounding track, just based on the title alone. But surprisingly, it ends up being a heavy hip-hop track that shows Changbin’s rapping skills. The track itself has the message of not being set to the rules and being carefree, like a doodle we make on the page. His delivery was quite powerful, and adds to the heaviness of the song. There are some moments where it was quite textured and the intensity just hits you (in a positive manner). I do find DOODLE to be on the repetitive side, which is a bit of a letdown given how expressive the song is already. (7.5/10)

6. Love Untold (Hyunjin Solo) Love Untold is a mix of rock (gearing towards rock balladry territory) and hip-hop. Overall, it was a nice showcase of what Hyunjin has to offer when it comes to both rapping and vocals. However, I do feel like the chorus could have been better had be executed by a stronger vocalist. That being said, Hyunjin does show off his emotive and passionate side, especially when it comes to the rapping. It also helps that the melody of Love Untold is a lot clearer and cleaner. (8/10)

6. Run (Han Solo) – Han has demonstrated that he is an all-rounder over the last few years, and this made me curious to what direction his solo track would take. For Run, he chooses to showcase his rapping skills. I really liked his flow and the minimalistic vibes of the instrumental. It feels trendy and super unique. The deep autotuned vocals during the bridge of Run pretty much can be described the same way. Overall, I was impressed with Run and really enjoyed it. (9/10)

7. Deep End (Felix Solo) – Out of all of the members’ solo track on this compilation album, Felix’s Deep End was quite unexpected. It takes the form of a ballad. I really liked all the different vocal tones and variations he gives us throughout Deep End. He definitely utilizes his infamous deep and husky tone. But he also shows off so much more – like falsettos, a raspy tone and a set of smoother mid-range vocals. The instrumental is kept to a minimal with piano and the light presence of some other instrumentals, enabling the focus to be placed on Felix and his vocals. Quite a compelling listen. (9/10)

8. Stars and Raindrops (내려요) (Seungmin Solo) – I remember think how Stars and Raindrops felt like it could have been a DAY6 song. And knowing that he is a fan of the band, I do like how he drew upon his influence to deliver a strong track. I like how pleasant everything is, from the synth-featured band instrumentation, to his vocals, to the melodies of the song. The beat in Stars and Raindrops was also a nice change in momentum, given the preceding tracks. (9/10)

9. Hug Me (안아줄게요) (I.N Solo) – At first, I thought Hug Me was going to be an acoustic ballad with the way it started for some reason. But within seconds, as soon as I.N starts singing, the song instantly transforms into a pleasantly brighter and more cheerful number. The guitar work keeps the song grounded, while I.N’s vocals were sweet and loveable. (8/10)

10. #LoveSTAY – The final song covered on the A-side of the album (and this part of the album review) is #LoveSTAY, which is undoubtedly a love song for their fans. Musically, it is a ballad. Beautifully instrumented with orchestral touches and the vocals are so dreamy and touching. I really liked the way they ended the song, reiterating the loving and appreciation message they have for STAYs. Also, the group released a video for the song at the end of 2021, so check it out below if you missed it. As a recap, it features behind the scene shots of the members recording the song and snippets throughout their promotions/award shows. A nice nostalgic walk down memory lane for fans and the members alike. (9/10)

Overall A-Side Rating – 8.3/10

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

Stray Kids’ Teaser Image from the MAXIDENT/CASE 143 era

[Album Review] Code Name: Arrow (11th Mini Album) – UP10TION

There might be a reason to why I pushed out a review for UP10TION’s What If Love despite it being released half a year ago. That is because I made a decision to review the Code Name: Arrow mini-album in which the single was present on, given the massive changes the group underwent earlier this year. While the group has reassured us that they have not disbanded and wish to continue UP10TION into the future, the lack of news (such as signing on with a company) since their departure from TOP Media does make me slightly concerned about their future. However, given the group is at the stage of their career involving military enlistments, this might be slowing things down in terms of future activities and relevant news. Regardless, I will be looking out for news of UP10TION’s future and hope that it comes soon. But for now, here is my thoughts on Code Name: Arrow.

Code Name: Arrow Album Cover

1. Angel – Starting off the mini-album is Angel, which was a solid EDM track. I did like the rush of energy that the instrumental following the first chorus. I also liked how the presence of guitar throughout the song peeking through the EDM, with my favourite being the brief yet funky guitar riffs detailing we hear in that same instrumental break just mentioned. The rapping and its flow in the song added a nice flair to the song, while the vocals were a good showing, particularly the falsetto in the choruses. Though I think a stronger hook would have really taken Angel up a notch. (8/10)

2. What If Love (Title Track)Click here to read the review for What If Love. (7/10)

3. Bloom – For me, Bloom’s chorus was its highlight. The thumping EDM/dance instrumental that opens the centerpiece of the song was quite a showstopper and I liked how it wasn’t just a one-trick moment. The second and final chorus are also the same, with the latter incorporating an extra set of beats to just give the final chorus that just that little bit more. The vocals here was really well done. Elsewhere in Bloom, we have a pop ballad-like first verse (which helps make the first run at the chorus that bit more shocking – but in a good way). The deeper toned rapping was also well used, just to give the song more depth. Hook-wise and melody-wise, I find Bloom to be particularly strong in these areas, as well. (10/10)

4. Flash – Guitar riffs and casual energy takes the helm in Flash. It is an enjoyable track, with a slight retro tinge to the instrumental. The vocals take the win in this one, with the vocal line doing a splendid job of showcasing that bright and cheerful tone that the song has. (7.5/10)

5. Starlight – I quite enjoyed the blast of energy we get in the choruses. It isn’t as iconic as Bloom’s choruses were, but it did make the chorus for Starlight to be strong. I also enjoyed the affectionate tone that comes from the song, which is what the lyrics depict. I actually would not be surprised if this is a song for their fans. Powerful vocals were also needed to stand out over the instrumentation, and UP10TION definitely delivered in this aspect. (8/10)

6. Rewind – The final song on the album is also some of UP10TION members’ favourite. Rewind is a rock ballad that showcases the members in a more emotive state with their vocal and rapping delivery. I personally thought they executed this well, and I can see why the members’ said this was their favourite song on the mini-album. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

Code Name: Arrow Teaser Image

[Album Review] Candy (6th Mini Album) – NCT DREAM

NCT DREAM’s Candy (the mini-album) was one of the last major releases of 2022. Featuring the remake of H.O.T’s Candy as the title track, Candy also featured 5 additional side tracks for the festive season. For me, this mini-album never had a dull moment and rounded out their super successful and massive year which featured the releases of Glitch Mode and Beatbox. Due to my personal lag with publishing album reviews in 2022, I ended up posting a singular album review for the entire album featuring both title tracks.

As a quick side note, despite how I started off this review above, this is not the final album review for a 2022 release which I will be posting. The final three album reviews for 2022 releases will be posted next weekend and into next week. This will mean that I will be starting album reviews for 2023 releases some time later this month.

Candy Album Cover

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

2. GraduationGraduation sparked concerns of the group disbanding, as the song is all about graduating to the next stage of one’s life. And I can completely understand where the concerns were coming when I read the English translation of the lyrics. However, there is no disbandment news in sight and I think NCT DREAM was gearing up for a comeback later this year. Anyhow, Graduation is a beautiful song of lovely vocals and nice rapping to express the message aforementioned. I liked how it wasn’t strictly a ballad (instead, it falls into the R&B genre), with the rapping taking over a decent portion of the song. But it doesn’t undermine the vocals, which each member contributed towards. Even some of the rappers dabbled with falsettos in the song. Overall, Graduation is the song that sticks in your mind thanks to its message and is hard to get out thanks to its execution. (10/10)

3. Tangerine Love (Favorite)Tangerine Love (Favorite) returns to upbeat and funky vibes with its retro synthpop sound. I really like the super catchy chorus in this song, and the rapping was definitely a highlight. But again, the vocals excelled, with Haechan to member that we need to commend thanks to his high note. The synthesizer at the end was a really cool touch. (9/10)

4. Take My Breath (입김) – The choruses for Take My Breath were super striking thanks to the pounding effect of the instrumental. Similarly, I thought the way the rapping started off the song and how cool the rapping was throughout the song was another striking element of the song. Other than that, the other parts of Take My Breath made for a standard yet pleasant pop track. (8/10)

5. Moon (문) – We arrive at the ballad of this mini-album. Given that this is a Christmas theme album, this ballad is the first song to truly elicit the dreamy side of the festive scene through its instrumentation. The piano melody makes for a stunning background, while the vocals are both superb and captivating (as expected). The harmonies are amazing, as are the ad-libs. (8/10)

6. Walk With You (발자국) – We end the special mini-album on a very upbeat note. I liked the textures in this dance track and the brightness that the members bring to the song. I like how the production stayed fun and enjoyable. NCT DREAM nails the song with their usual high-quality delivery in both the vocal/rapping styles. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

Candy Teaser Image

[Album Review] Overload (2nd Mini Album) – Xdinary Heroes

Another mini-album I reviewed over the weekend was Xdinary Heroes’ second mini-album, Overload. This one features the title track Hair Cut and five other side tracks, with each track exploring the rock genre in a unique and different manner from what other Korean bands have been putting out. With their discography thus far, it is definitely looks and sounds like Xdinary Heroes is carving a niche for themselves. Released in November 2022, this is the second album review I have written for the band, the first being Hello, World (which was released in July 2022 and features the title track Test Me). And as of this week, Xdinary Heroes released their third mini-album Deadlock and the title track Freakin’ Bad. But before I review the new single, here is my take on Overload.

Overload Album Cover

1. Zzz.. (잠꼬대)Zzz.. starts off the mini-album, with a track that goes in multiple directions (more so than the title track). But the multiple directions all give Zzz.. an intriguingness to it. There is a mix of pop rock, electronic synths and groovy undertones to this track that somehow gets glued together to create an interesting track. Xdinary Heroes delivers some pleasant and others colourful and playful vocals, which I find to be super cool and characteristic. We do finish with the same laugh that is present in the title track, bridging the first and main track on the album together. (8.5/10)

2. Hair Cut (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Hair Cut. (6/10)

3. LUNATIC – Playful eerie vibes begin the track, before LUNATIC goes down the powerful rock route. There is head nodding potential behind this track. What I appreciate with LUNATIC is that it doesn’t go in different directions, keeping a consistency that feels refreshing following the first two songs on the mini-album. I also appreciate the charisma that the members bring to the song via their vocals, which makes LUNATIC a great listen. (8/10)

4. Crack In The Mirror – The drumming in Crack in the Mirror was amazing and definitely was my favourite element of the song. For me, it took the song places that the other instrumentation just couldn’t. Aside from that, more head nodding potential and some great vocals moments round out this song. (8/10)

5. Ghost – I found the vocals in Ghost to be really interesting. The way they dragged out the ending of each line in the chorus was quite unique and gives Ghost so much creepy character. There was also some decent rapping in this song, which I enjoyed. The instrumentals were good, but were toned down to give off a more creepy vibe, complimenting the vocal style chosen. (7/10)

6. X-MASX-MAS is not Christmas carol or jingle. With Xdinary Heroes at the helm, powerful rock takes over pretty quickly. The pre-choruses and bridge was a bit dreamy, and I think the band plays into the idea of a music box at the end of the choruses. But apart from that, Xdinary Heroes completely smash out the song in a non-festive way. Parts of the song felt more so like a hype song, while the guitar work stands out. Catchy melodies and hooks make the song memorable, though I wished they were a bit more colouful with their delivery, as they have been in their other songs. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.6/10

[Album Review] Strange World (7th Mini Album) – Ha Sung Woon

Ha Sung Woon made his comeback in August 2022 with the mini-album Strange World and the title track FOCUS (my personal pick for Best Solo Choreography (Male) of 2022 in the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Awards). 8 months on, I am finally reviewing the album. It was on the list of albums that I wanted to review from 2022, but was forgotten on my list (until this past weekend when I finally sat down and took another listen to write the review). Strange World and FOCUS is also Ha Sung Woon’s last comeback prior to his mandatory enlistment in the South Korean military, which he will finish up in 2024. This does mean it is unlikely we will be hearing new music from the soloist soon, so let’s have another listen to the album in the meanwhile.

Strange World Album Cover

1. FOCUS (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of FOCUS. (8/10)

2. Say Yes (어떻게 생각해?)Say Yes is a cheerfully bright pop track that brings a smile to your face. I liked the subtle piano in the background, which helps adds a peppy vibe Say Yes. I also really liked how Ha Sung Woon presented himself in this track, especially following the more mature tone of the title track. It is no doubt that the contrast between this song and the title track is literally day and night. Maybe if it wasn’t placed behind the title track, the contrast wouldn’t be such a major thought whilst listening to the track. (8/10)

3. Baby Blue (바다) – We enter R&B territory for Baby Blue. It is a smooth track and Ha Sung Woon’s falsettos are really captivating in this track. Unfortunately, I don’t really see much else to Baby Blue that is worth commenting on. But it is still a decent listen, overall. (7/10)

4. Too Little Too Late (with JAMIE)Too Little Too Late is another R&B track, and this one has more to talk about. The talk is all good news, as I quite enjoyed this track. The instrumental had some great character. There is also a vibrancy coming both Ha Sung Woon and JAMIE’s vocals (who both sound wonderful together and throughout the song). Their harmonies are also quite great and definitely strengthen the song. The brass in the background also helps out with making the song extra vibrant, as well. (9/10)

5. Daylight – The final song on the mini-album is Daylight, which is a really nice and pleasant ballad track. The acoustic guitar centric instrumental brings a wholesome vibe, which Ha Sung Woon reflects really well throughout the vocals. Interestingly, Ha Sung Woon employs a low and huskier tone during certain parts of the song. An interesting delivery choice, but it works tremendously well to bring that wholesome effect to life. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

Strange World Teaser Image

[Album Review] Villain: The End (1st Studio Album) – DRIPPIN

DRIPPIN just made a comeback with the single SEVEN SINS. But before I get around to reviewing that release, I thought I should quickly push out the album review for DRIPPIN’s Villain: The End, the group’s first studio length album. It was released back in November of last year and features the single The One as the title track (and 9 other side tracks). It serves as the final part of their Villain trilogy, which features their VILLAIN and ZERO eras/comebacks, also from 2022. Overall, Villain: The End is a very strong album that once again shows the potential of DRIPPIN.

Villain: The End Album Cover

1. I.N.OI.N.O serves as the introduction to the studio-length album. To me, this track was quite eerie. It starts off stormy, building to orchestral elements. Towards the end, I.N.O becomes more electronic based, with the final moments of the track reminding me of electric guitars, hinting a rock influence, which the title track The One and other tracks on the album ends up serving to us.

2. The OneClick here to read the full review for The One. (9/10)

3. SilenceSilence was chosen as the follow-up track for promotions, and I think it was an excellent choice. There are a few elements that I really liked, which helps the track standout to me. Firstly, the pop rock gave Silence a very upbeat feel, whilst also packing a powerful punch. Secondly, there was also electronic synths mixed into Silence alongside the pop rock influences, which gave the track groovy undertones. Thirdly, the members did extremely well in the song, showcasing a vibrant tone in the song. Silence also has a memorable yet simple melody. I did wish for more memorable rapping in the song, which could have taken Silence to the next level. (9/10)

4. MONSTER – We enter grungier territory with MONSTER. The start of the track has so much character, and the rock influence in MONSTER has so much head-banging territory. The standout member in this song is without a doubt Alex, whose raspy/hoarsely shouts just prior to the choruses and brief rapping in the second verse is so impactful and leaves a strong impression. Together, this track definitely is an exceptional sidetrack that I really enjoyed. (10/10)

5. HOME – Taking down the album by a few notches is HOME, which serves as the album’s ballad. It isn’t one of those super emotional and tear-jerking ones, nor is it slow and stilling. Instead, HOME does feature a relatively strong chorus, which occurs due to the accumulation of piano, strings and vocals. Speaking about vocals, HOME definitely showcases strong delivery from the entire group and is definitely the showstopping element of the song. There were also some great harmonies. (8/10)

6. UTOPIA – I personally felt that UPTOPIA could have been more bombastic with a heavier presence of bass. This would have really upgraded the song for me. But as it is, UPTOPIA was still a solid track. I really liked the house style of the instrumental, and the vocals and rapping was displayed in a very consistent manner. There was a memorable yet simple melody to the song, that helped boost up its appeal. The zippy/high pitch whistle-like synth was also another memorable element of UPTOPIA. (8/10)

7. DEJA VU – Going for a sleeker vibe is DEJA VU, which I am totally digging. I liked the darker atmosphere that comes about from the instrumental. The bass does wonders to the song, while the beat brings that funky undertone to the song. The strings in the pre-choruses was a nice touch as well. The rapping adds to that sleekness, with the low and slow delivery also coming off as sensual. The vocals also elicit a mature energy, which goes hand-in-hand with the other elements in the song. Altogether, DEJA VU becomes my pick for the album’s hidden gem. (10/10)

8. ESCAPE – A funky beat and whistles make ESCAPE feel quite classy. The song had me unconsciously head bopping along as it progressed, and the whistles were hard to get out of head. The vocal work was a strong aspect of the track, with Hyeop’s clean high note and ad-libs being a highlight. The weakest aspect of the song, for me, was the second verse rap sequence. It didn’t fit in well and disrupted the flow of the song. I also wished the transition between the second chorus and bridge was a lot smoother. (8/10)

9. Champion – The very calming and atmospheric backing to the verses was a stunner in Champion. This ends up building into an atmospheric band piece for the choruses, while the rappers take the bridge into a heavy rock territory. It was a ride through different styles, but it feels cohesive. I liked the consistent and balanced approached the vocals took. Also, we heard the return of Alex’s deeper tone for his segment in the bridge, and Dongyun’s uptick in tempo for his rapping felt fitting. (8.5/10)

10. When I’m With You – The studio album ends with a pop track that sounds sweet and lovely. I liked the combination of guitar and synths in the choruses, coming together to create a very interesting but fun texture. The cheerful tone the members bring via their vocals makes me want to smile and this helps ends the 10-track album on a very positive note. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

[Album Review] CHASE (1st Mini Album) – MINHO (SHINee)

At the end of 2022, MINHO made his long awaited solo comeback with his first mini-album ever, CHASE. This is led by the single of the exact same name, along with four additional side tracks and the single Heartbreak (which was released a year prior to this mini-album release – link in the review below). MINHO becomes the final member of SHINee to release a solo mini-album, nine years on since fellow member Taemin made his solo debut – the first SHINee member to do so. But this review is all about MINHO, so let’s see what I thought about MINHO’s solo debut mini-album.

CHASE Album Cover

1. Chase (놓아줘) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Chase. (6/10)

2. Runaway (ft. Gemini)Runaway is the song with the most substantial hip-hop influence of all on the mini-album. I really liked the smoothness of the instrumentation, which translates well to the melodies and both MINHO and Gemini’s flow in Runaway. I enjoyed the oriental influences that came off the instrumental as well. It creates a really intriguing atmosphere in the song, and the combination with the hip-hop made was a very interesting vibe. (8/10)

3. Prove It – Next up on the mini-album is Prove It. It is more of a R&B track, with a bit of groovy vibe thanks to the guitar riffs. This is further emphasized by the presence of some brass, which brings a splash to colour to the instrumental yet also maintaining Prove It’s mature exterior. Minho himself brings a lower and breathy tone to the song, which I quite enjoyed. I just wished the melodies and hooks were more memorable. (7/10)

4. Waterfall (ft. Lim Kim)Waterfall, to me, was the mini-album’s most interesting side track. I really liked the wobble-like sound effect in the background, which mimics the idea of how water wobbles. You might also stretch out and describe as the sound of what a ripple effect in water might sound like. Either way, it is definitely a scene setter. Lim Kim’s unique vocals really bring some freshness to the song, while Minho’s showcases a higher tone in this song. Both harmonise extremely well with one another, and this creates such a harmonious yet atmospheric track to listen to. (9/10)

5. ChoiceChoice brings a breezier vibe to the mini album. It is also a lot brighter, thanks to the pop direction that the R&B song takes in the chorus with the retro video game-like synths. MINHO also supplements this, by bringing a more expressive delivery through both vocals and raps present in the song. I also enjoyed the keyboard present in the song, especially during that outro, which just gives Choice a bit more colour and character. (8/10)

6. Heartbreak Click here to read the full review for Heartbreak. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.7/10

CHASE Teaser Image

[Album Review] HARMONY: SET IN (5th Mini Album) – P1Harmony

The next album review on the blog belongs to P1Harmony’s 5th mini-album, HARMONY: SET IN. The new mini-album was released in November and features the title track Back Down and 5 additional side tracks to round out the mini-album. This release is also the group’s 3rd release of 2022, following DISHARMONY: FIND OUT (led by Do It Like This) and HARMONY: ZERO IN (led by Doom Du Doom). So let’s see how HARMONY: SET IN stacks up against the other two mini-albums that P1Harmony has released in 2022 whilst we await news for their first comeback in 2023.


1. Back Down (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Back Down. (8/10)

2. BFF (Best Friends Forever)BFF comes off as a fun and bright pop dance track, all about wanting to be best friends forever (hence the title). The guitar in the background is the showstopping element in BFF that gets my attention. It brings such a funky element to the song. Paired with the brightness that the members bring via their vocals and raps, BFF is a massive hit and an enjoyable listen to me. (10/10)

3. Secret SauceSecret Sauce is a hybrid hip-hop track that is an interesting listen. Even until this day, I am not sure if I am a fan of the song. It is bold and different, which I am all for. But the synths in the choruses give off a screechy effect, which I find very discomforting. Vocals and rapping wise, Secret Sauce is a solid effort from the group, and I can totally hear character and profile. The synths elsewhere were quite, like in the instrumental break, an appealing aspect. It is just the background to the chorus that irks me. (7/10)

4. One and Only – The appealing aspect of One and Only, in my opinion, is the perky and powerful energy that is exuded in the choruses. It packs a punch and definitely is something I enjoy. The rest of the song follows a fun refrain, which helps make the choruses more impactful. I also commend the instrumental of the track. Trap is a sound that we often get in KPOP, but it is usually quite dry and typical. But here in One and Only, the trap elements were a fun application, and I liked the tropical vibes that were coming from the song’s melodies. (9/10)

5. Look At Me Now (태양을 삼킨 아이) – Rock takes over the mini-album in Look At Me Now. From the 808 bass and the electric guitar riffs, Look At Me Now is such a sexy application of the rock genre and P1Harmony nails this track. They really carried themselves well in this song and I can see a future for the group in the genre. Overall, Look At me Now satisfies my cravings for the rock genre, giving me exactly what I want when I hear the genre. Now if more rock songs in KPOP apply this style, but also innovating it in a way that keeps it fresh and unique, then I will be a very happy listener. (10/10)

6. Better Together (배낭여행) – Closing out the mini-album is the mid-tempo ballad. I find the song to be a nice way to ease out of the mini-album, given that is was quite a full-on listen. I like the presence of the violins and guitar riffs in Better Together, in addition to the pop vibes that come from the rest of the instrumental. Vocals and melody-wise, Better Together was very pleasant and comforting to listen to. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

HARMONY: SET IN Teaser Image

[Album Review] MOVE AGAIN (15th Anniversary Special Mini Album) – KARA

KARA definitely made a splash with their reunion at the end of last year with group promotions to celebrate their 15th anniversary. MOVE AGAIN was the mini-album released at the end of November to celebrate the milestone, which features the title track WHEN I MOVE. It is also the first KARA release since 2016, following the group’s departure from DSP Media, their company at the time. In addition to the title track, the mini-album featured an additional 3 sidetracks. As KARA used to have a strong hold in the JPOP market as well, a Japanese version of the title track was also released, alongside with an additional side track that I have included in this album review, as well to celebrate KARA’s latest mini-album. Keep on reading to find out my thoughts on MOVE AGAIN and co.

MOVE AGAIN Album Cover

1. Happy Hour – Easing us into their grand return is Happy Hour. And this is a stunning mid-tempo pop track. There is a very comforting and warm feeling to Happy Hour that paints a smile on my face every time I listen to the song. This is, without any doubt, an effect of KARA’s vocals, who makes the song sound nostalgic for old fans and so so inviting for new fans. If anything, more harmonies would have strengthened this track. But as it is, it is already too good. (10/10)

2. WHEN I MOVE (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for WHEN I MOVE. (8/10)

3. Shout It Out – As you would expect from the title of Shout It Out, the song brings a celebratory anthem to the mini-album that keeps the energy at an incline. And this attracts me to the track. The instrumental features dance pop vibe that feels unapologetic KARA. And just like the first song on this mini-album, Shout It Out brings a smile to my face – though this is slightly different smile as I enjoy the energy and upbeatness to the track. The instrumental also keeps the song from slipping into cringy territory (which the vocals were heading in) and brings certain elements (i.e. cymbals) in at just the right times to heighten the song further. (9.5/10).

4. Oxygen – Emotions take over the mini-album through the sidetrack Oxygen. It is a ballad that you really need to stop and listen to take it all in. And I cannot help myself but do that each time I hear it. So, my thoughts will be very short. The vocals in this song are stunning and you can hear the emotional heft behind their vocals. The members are backed up with the dominant presence of acoustic guitar that I found to be soothing and captivating alongside the vocals. (9/10)

5. Queens (Japanese Album Only) – As mentioned in the introduction to this album review, Queens is featured only on the Japanese single album which WHEN I MOVE (the Japanese version) was also released on. Queens has a bit of a quirky yet fun instrumental to it. For the most part, the instrumental keeps the playful track alive alongside the presence of the subdued vocals that didn’t offer much to the song in terms of memorability. But following the second and final choruses, there are these shoutier moments that really helped liven up the track and insert some much needed energy to make Queens appealing. (7/10)

Overall Album Review – 8.7/10

MOVE AGAIN Teaser Image

[Album Review] The ReVe Festival 2022 – Birthday (6th Special Mini Album) – Red Velvet

Red Velvet is the next group up for an album review over this Easter long weekend. In November 2022, the group returned the next installment of The ReVe Festival 2022 series, The ReVe Festival 2022 – Birthday. The new mini-album release features the title track Birthday and four additional side tracks. The Birthday era follows the release of Feel My Rhythm and The ReVe Festival 2022 – Feel My Rhythm, which was released back in March 2022. Again, this new mini-album is a great addition to Red Velvet’s discography and has a number of standout tracks on the mini-album, which I highly recommend you listen to. To find out which ones in particular, continue on reading my album review.

The ReVe Festival 2022 – Birthday Album Cover

1. Birthday (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Birthday. (7/10)

2. BYE BYEBYE BYE is without a doubt one of the strongest standouts on this mini-album. It is a R&B single, but the instrumental elements (in the form of groovy bass and a heavy beat) give it boldness which attracts attention. I know it attracted mine! The vocals are equally as good, with Wendy’s vocals in the second verse getting a massive thumbs up from me. The harmonies are to die for. There is also something very intriguing by the dragged-out delivery of the song’s title in the chorus to fit in with the infamous Für Elise melody. BYE BYE definitely is a cool listen. (10/10)

3. On A Ride (롤러코스터)On A Ride plays into the group’s Red side with such a playful and fun instrumental. It is definitely a strong point of On A Ride. Again, solid vocals from the group. These vocals do help ground the song in my opinion, preventing the song from spiraling out of control from its instrumental. I did wish the vocal hooks were a little more impactful and memorable, just to take On A Ride to the next level. (8/10)

4. ZOOM – Red Velvet putting ZOOM on this mini-album tells me they are all about business. ZOOM is such a dramatic and memorable song. I remember falling for the song the first time listening to it, and I have enjoyed every time I have listened to the song since then. It tackles R&B, but with a very trendy groovy instrumental. ZOOM has the best showcase of the group’s vocals. I like how they play with high and low tones in the song. The prolific and plentiful hooks are also undeniably catchy. There is a lot to like in ZOOM! (10/10)

5. Celebrate – When I listen to the song and read the lyrics to Celebrate, I feel like the mini-album has come full-circle. Celebrate is a warm and inviting R&B song. Just like everywhere else on this mini-album, Red Velvet’s vocals were so strong here, especially when it came to the harmonies. The melodies were quite dreamy and flowy. The instrumentation was soft, allowing the vocals to do most of the speaking. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

The ReVe Festival 2022 – Birthday Teaser Image

[Album Review] CHESHIRE (6th Mini Album) – ITZY

ITZY also made their comeback in November 2022 with CHESHIRE, the title of both their latest title track and mini-album release. Alongside CHESHIRE, there is three side tracks on the mini-album, including the pre-release Boys Like You. Unfortunately, I have decided to not review Boys Like You in the usual spot of an International Song Reviews post due to time constraints (otherwise at the rate I am going, I might not get this particular album review for another few months). But I will definitely me sharing my thoughts on the group’s first all-English track, just like the other songs on the mini-album. CHESHIRE follows the group’s SNEAKERS and CHECKMATE mini-album release.

On a quick side note, but has JYP Entertainment given up on ITZY’s album art? The album cover below is just so plain and boring. This follows the revised album art that was release for the CHECKMATE mini-album, which I thought was rather low standard for album art.

CHESHIRE Album Cover

1. Cheshire (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Cheshire. (6/10)

2. SnowySnowy has a certain sinister vibe that comes and goes, which is thanks to the Für Elise sample that is present in Snowy’s chorus. This is further emphasized by the piano that follows the sample and the vocal tones that the members adopt. To be honest, the chorus (which contains the sample) feels more like the pre-chorus, and the “Na Na Na” segment that follows feels more like the chorus. I wished there were more obvious segmentation of the song, so that it does not feel like a blur and make the different parts more clear-cut. The sample and hooks do make the song catchy enough for me to be intrigued and like it. (8/10)

3. Freaky – I did like their vocal work in Freaky. It felt very clean and showcases their vocal capabilities. The instrumental, whilst does fall into the R&B genre, was pretty forgettable. The detailing we hear in the background was very subtle and faint, but they do have their place in making the song more interesting. Without them, Freaky would have been extremely plain and very empty/lacking. (7/10)

4. Boys Like You (Pre-Release Single) – I found Boys Like You to be a very catchy track. It feels very juvenile, almost childish. But this expected with a teen-pop song. To the point that it feels unfitting for this mini-album. But there is a bit of charm to it. I really liked the post-chorus shouty affair that follows the second and final choruses. It felt bold and showed some good control from the members part. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.1/10

CHESHIRE Teaser Image