[Album Review] NOEASY (2nd Studio Album) – Stray Kids

As you may have seen, I was busy in the latter half of the week reviewing some the sides tracks off their second studio album. And now it is time for the album review! Stray Kids released their second studio album, NOEASY, back in August of this year. It is lead by the title track Thunderous, and is accompanied by an extensive promotional campaign. Both The View and Domino were also promoted alongside Thunderous, while a bunch of music videos were released for a handful of other tracks (some of which covered earlier this week). The album also consist of WOLFGANG, the group’s original release as part of Kingdom: Legendary War, and the single Mixtape: OH. And there are still a few more tracks on the album that I have yet to mention. To get my thoughts on those tracks and more, continue reading below!

NOEASY Album Cover

1. CHEESEClick here for the full review for CHEESE. (9/10)

2. Thunderous (소리꾼) (Title Track)Click here for the full review for Thunderous. (9.5/10)

3. Domino – I was very disappointed to find out that there wasn’t a full music video for Domino. I had high hopes for one, especially after the cool choreography we saw in their follow-up promotions. But anyhow, Domino is a super dynamic track. It is catchy and fun, but also quite serious and heavy with its electronic instrumentation. I particularly liked the domino synth they had going on in the chorus, and the vocalist’s sequence in the pre-chorus. Relevant and refreshing! The rapping slayed and definitely added a lot of power behind each sequence. The dance break was also freaking cool and added a trendy change to the song. (10/10)

4. Ssick (씩) – Four songs in and it seems like Stray Kids is not shying away from this element, nor noise, throughout this album. Ssick had some of the strongest moments of intensity and noise on this album. While this could really be a powerful tool to get reel listeners in, I find it not to be as cohesive as some of the other tracks of a similar nature. And as a result, it was the most forgettable for me (of all the intense electronic tracks on this album). I don’t know why, but the song just didn’t stick with me. I wished the group stuck with the playful nature that we got at the start of the song as I feel that would have been a unique take. But I feel the intensity and ‘noise’ takes hold of Ssick and overdoes it. It isn’t a terrible song, but it sounds more like flair than anything else. (7/10)

5. The ViewClick here for the full review for The View. (10/10)

6. Sorry I Love You (좋아해서 미안) – The first ballad of this album. This one takes a hip-hop approach, which was an interesting combo. The instrumentation is quite a bore for me, and I wished there was something within the background that drew me into the song. I like the intensity that the rappers bring to the song, with their parts being the most memorable. The vocals were nice and the melodies caught on, but I don’t think they were the most impressive element of Sorry I Love You (the rappers take that honour). It was an okay song, as a whole. But it isn’t the best track on the album. (6.5/10)

7. Silent Cry Silent Cry is an interesting track. It starts off with a haunting intro, before electronic music emerges from the darkness. And from there, the instrumental gets abstract at times and ultimately intense as the song progresses. This all results in a very cool track that pushes you to the edge of your seat. What really stood out for me over the cool instrumentation was the vocals and the subsequent melodies that they brought to life. They were super loud and very clear despite the different and relentless nature of the electronic. Similar things can be said about the rapping. I would really like to see a performance for this song, as I think there can be many creative paths taken for a song like this. (9/10)

8. Secret Secret (말할 수 없는 비밀)Secret Secret is a decent balladry track from the entire group. But it was pretty typical and didn’t really attract my attention as much. The vocal work was quite nice, but I felt like the typical instrumentation held back the vocals from their full potential. I did like how the rappers kept true to their skills and worked their rapping into the song using a lower tone and slower delivery.  Usually, I am not a fan of rapping in ballads, but I think it was well done here. (6.5/10)

9. Star LostStar Lost combines the likes of pop melodies and electronic music to create an awesome track. As a whole, I quite enjoyed this song. Most of the elements felt just right and extremely pleasant in Star Lost, aside from the instrumentation. I do think they could have toned down the electronic side in the instrumentation at certain times of the song, like the EDM drop that we got. It wasn’t necessarily off-putting and I liked the idea behind it. I just felt to was a bit over the top for the song. But apart from that, great song. (8/10)  

10. Red Lights (강박) (Bangchan & Hyunjin)Click here for the full review for Red Lights. (8/10)

11. Surfin’ (Lee Know, Changbin, Felix)Click here for the full review for Surifin’. (7/10)

12. Gone Away (HAN, Seungmin, I.N)Click here for the full review for Gone Away. (9/10)

13. WOLFGANGClick here for the full review for WOLFGANG. (8.5/10)

14. Mixtape: OH ()Click here for the full review for Mixtape: OH. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

NOEASY Teaser Image

[Album Review] The Awakening: Written In The Stars (1st Studio Album – Part 1) – CRAVITY

The next album to be reviewed is Part 1 of CRAVITY’s first studio-length album, The Awakening: Written In The Stars, which officially dropped mid-August. It features the title track Gas Pedal and the follow-up promotion track VENI VIDI VICI, both of which I have reviewed separately (their reviews will be linked below). As this is a Starship Entertainment album release, I am not surprised that this studio album comes in two parts. As this is only Part 1 of their album, we can expect Part 2 some time in the future. And with Starship really pushing CRAVITY since their debut with back to back comebacks, I don’t think we will be waiting around for a long time.

The Awakening: Written In The Stars (Part 1) Album Cover

1. Intro: New HorizonNew Horizon starts off with a whistle that beckons you into the album, before we are met with an abrasive EDM piece that no doubt aligns with CRAVITY’s works thus far. I can imagine a powerful and impressive dance routine associated with this intro track. The whistle towards the end pulls us further into the album, taking us to the album’s title track, Gas Pedal.

2. Gas Pedal (Title Track)Click here for the full review for Gas Pedal. (8/10)

3. VENI VIDI VICIClick here for the full review for VENI VIDI VICI. (8/10)

4. CHINGA-LINGACHINGA-LINGA is one of those rare EDM tracks that I personally find overwhelming. It felt like there was a lot going on in CHINGA-LINGA thanks to the EDM centric instrumental backing, which falls more so on the trap territory of the EDM spectrum. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but combined with the constant changes in momentum, tempo and effects, the song comes off a bit much. Balancing out the instrumentation are the rapping and vocals, which I thought were well-handled by the group and I appreciated that they stood out over the loud ‘noisy’ instrumentation. If only said instrumentation was toned slightly to be a little more enjoyable. (7/10)

5. CelebrateCelebrate still sits in that same EDM territory, with their song also taking on board a hip-hop influence. While hip-hop influences aren’t my personal cup of tea, I find that Celebrate strikes a balance between all its elements, especially with the fun melodies, which makes the song more palatable and approachable. It does come at a cost (i.e. less dynamic vocals), though I don’t think it was a huge sacrifice as I quite liked the song as a result. The rapping was my favourite part of this song. The rappers were much slower with their delivery, but they still delivered their lines with bite and impact that a usual rap sequence would have. (8.5/10)

6. Grand Prix – I like the impact and the groovy nature of Grand Prix. The impact comes in via the chorus, which features a very quick warp of energy to kick things off in this segment of the song. It caught my attention and made me fall for the song. The groovy nature comes via the bigger picture (i.e. instrumentation), which falls into the electro-pop territory. The hooks in this song were short and snappy, but also memorable at the same time. (9/10)

7. Divin’ – I like the refreshing nature of Divin’. The pop nature of the song was definitely a nice change up in sound for the group, despite the song still being heavy handed on the synths. I particularly enjoyed the pre-choruses and choruses of the song. The pre-choruses had a very likeable ramp up in energy that I am vibing to every time the song plays. For the choruses, they felt like they need to be played while late night drives around in the city. It felt breezy and was also quite light natured, which I thoroughly enjoyed. (9/10)

8. GO GO – CRAVITY’s final song on the album slows and tones down the energy. GO GO is still upbeat in its own way, but they trade heavy handed synths for guitar riffs and feature a heavy reliance on vocals. The song overall felt easy to get into, especially with such catchy hooks and nice harmonization between the members. After a very dynamic and powerful album, it was nice to end with something a lot more soothing and calming. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

The Awakening: Written In The Stars (Part 1) Teaser Image

[Album Review] Game Changer / DDARA (2nd Studio Album / 2nd Studio Album Repackaged) – Golden Child

As mentioned earlier today (and throughout the past week), I would be posting the album review for Golden Child’s second studio album and its repackaged version today. GAME CHANGER (released at the start of August this year) is the group’s second studio album and features the title track Ra Pam Pam. Earlier this week, the group returned with the repackaged version, retitled DDARA, and features the title track of the same name. In total, there are 13 tracks on the album which I will be reviewing today. This album release was a banger – a small hint of what I thought about the albums overall.

1. Game Changer – The album kicks off with the eerie intro track Game Changer. The eeriness is only around at the start though, with the intro track opting for suspenseful classical vibe. This too is quite brief, as EDM kicks in right after to bump this up into very dynamic territory. I feel like this track would be awesome for a movie trailer, hinting towards twist and turns. For this album, it leads right into the likes of Ra Pam Pam.

2. Ra Pam Pam (Title Track)Click here for the full review of Ra Pam Pam. (8.5/10)

3. DDARA (Title Track)Click here for the full review of DDARA. (9/10)

4. OASIS – The other new track added to the repackaged version is OASIS. To me, the track is an impressive display of vocals from the group. Those successive high notes we get at the end sound so good. It felt almost like the members were in a ballad mindset for this song. But OASIS is no ballad. The instrumentation falls into the EDM side of music. It definitely made OASIS impactful and dynamic enough for me to give the song a 10/10. The rapping also reiterates the fact that this is no ballad, going with a powerful approach, which fitted in really well. (10/10)

5. Bottom of the OceanBottom of the Ocean is a full English track that brings me back to the ‘00s thanks to its pop rock sound. The track feels just right for the summer season, with its vibrancy and energy fitting right into the hallmarks of a summery song. Golden Child handles the song exceptionally well, which is worth a mention, as this is their first English track. The harmonies were a really nice touch. (9/10)

6. Fanfare (빵빠레)Fanfare is my pick for favourite side track for this album. It was hard to pick one, but I settled on this one!. It is a dance track with a really great retro and funky instrumentation. The brass elements in this song really give it so much colour, while rest of the funky and retro instrumentation is so vibrant and lively. The bass adds extra groove as well! The members bring solid vocals and rapping in this song, with the standout award going to the main vocalists for their high note and ad-libs. Overall, a home run with this track. (10/10)

7. Singing in the Rain (Joo Chan & Bo Min)Click here for the full review for Singing In The Rain. (8/10)

8. GAME (Tag & Ji Beom)Click here for the full review for GAME. (7/10)

9. Spell (주문을 걸어) – The album breaks away from the unit/solo track with a bit of an interlude in the form of Spell. It is similar to Fanfare in the sense that it has a funky and groovy energy oozing from it. But it is different in a way that it is more reliant on synths and EDM to get this energy across. Not that it matters, as Spell is an equally good track and the EDM makes it a dynamic number. I really like the idea of the delayed drop in this song, especially since I feel the delay allows Golden Child an opportunity to showcase a mature vibe in the chorus. The hooks in Spell are also quite dynamic and really appealed to me. (10/10)

10. Out the Window (창밖으로 우리가 흘러) (Daeyeol Solo)Click here for the full review for Out The Window. (8/10)

11. POPPIN’ (Y & Jang Jun)Click here for the full review for POPPIN’. (10/10)

12. That Feeling (느낌적인 느낌) (Seung Min & Dong Hyun & Jae Hyun) Click here for the full review for That Feeling. (7.5/10)

13. I Know (난 알아요) – The album ends with a ballad. Common sense tells me that their vocals would be on full display, and that is the case with I Know. But what makes their vocals even better (and so the ballad as a whole) is the instrumentation. Not only does the thumping in the instrumentation makes the ballad more upbeat, it adds impact to the song and a breathtaking element to the song. The rest of the instrumental falls into the same motif as well. Ending off the album with a song like I Know felt just like the perfect ender. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

[Album Review] Zero: Fever Part 3 (7th Mini Album) – ATEEZ

After more ATEEZ? Well, you have come to the right place. As promised in my Eternal Summer review, here is my album review for ATEEZ’s latest mini-album, Zero: Fever Part 3. This mini-album features the title track Deja Vu and its contender, Eternal Sunshine, along with four other new songs. This mini-album is a strong one, especially its second half (spoiler: I dish out three 10/10 songs). It is not their strongest one, however. That title belongs to the album release before this one, Zero: Fever Part 2, which featured Firework (I’m The One) as it is title track.

Zero: Fever Part 3 Album Cover

1. Eternal SunshineClick here to read the full review for Eternal Sunshine. (7/10)

2. Feeling Like I Do – Following from the bright and energetic nature of Eternal Summer, Feeling Like I Do continues that vibe with a decent track. I liked the upbeat nature of this track, with the synths bringing an enjoyable intensity to the song. The popping effect was a neat addition to the song, matching the vibrancy but also giving Feeling Like I Do some extra and unique energy. The drumming ties everything together. I also like the liveliness of the vocals and rapping. I do wish Feeling Like I Do had a more pronounced climax. It was the only aspect within the song that was missing for me. (8/10)

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

4. ROCKY – Drawn from the films that share the same title of this song, ROCKY is a bombastic and fierce song that talks about determination and succeeding as the underdog. Personally, I think ROCKY is better placed to be the title track, in place of Deja Vu, just because the energy in ROCKY is so impactful and memorable. The rock styled hip-hop influenced instrumental is very bold, and I love the swinging melody in the chorus. I think ROCKY could have worked with a boxing concept (pretty unique in KPOP) and lays the ground work for a pretty powerful choreography that will definitely scream of ATEEZ. (10/10)

5. All About YouAll About You tones down the energy of the album with a more calming and soothing track. It is more of a contemporary track, not really falling into any of the standard sounds for a calming and soothing track. All About You has an synth heavy that literally simmers in the background for majority of the song. The vocals and harmonies adds both smoothness and textures, while the rapping gives the song additional momentum. Jongho’s high note is exceptional and the repetitive hooks make this song very catchy. I find it hard to fault this song and thoroughly enjoyed it. (10/10)

6. Not Too Late (밤하늘) Not Too Late continues with the energy downtrend with a R&B track. Everything in song is quite dreamy, from the vocals to the R&B synth dominant instrumentation accented by piano and guitars. The rapping also follows the same mindset and the hooks are quite easy on the ears, easing us into the song and off the album. Another strong song and ender to this album. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

Zero: Fever Part 3 Teaser Image

[Album Review] Queendom (6th Mini Album) – Red Velvet

Next album review is Red Velvet’s Queendom, the group’s sixth mini-album. It is the group’s first comeback since the release of The ReVe Festival: Finale in 2019, which is headlined by Psycho, which was unfortunately cut short due to a stage accident involving Wendy, which left her and Red Velvet absent as a whole group throughout 2020. Queendom (the mini-album) is headlined by the title track of the same name, both of which was released mid-August of this year.

Queendom Album Cover

1. Queendom (Title Track)Click here for the full review of Queendom. (8/10)

2. PosePose seems to find a balance between Red Velvet’s Red and Velvet side (again, do they still categorise their releases between the two?) and reminds me of their past hits. Pose had that quirky element within in its synth pop instrumentation. It made the song lively and quite fun. I also like the bass that we got as part of the background, which gave it depth and an intriguing influence. The smoothness of the vocals, especially in the chorus, and the rapping gave Pose a level of sophistication that aligns with the group’s Velvet side. It isn’t a mind-blowing say, but it was nice overall. (8/10)

3. Knock On WoodKnock On Wood is another pleasant pop song. The synths in Knock On Wood definitely added to the song, making it more interesting, and added texture to the otherwise plain song. It isn’t an overwhelming amount, allowing the song to achieve that ‘pleasant’ description. The vocals further showcases, especially when the members sing together in the chorus. There was a bit of catchiness in the ‘Knock Knock’ hook. My only gripe about the song is the high pitch ‘Knock Knock’ that Yeri (for the first post-chorus hook) and Irene (for the second post-chorus hook) delivers in the background as an echo of the hook. (8/10)

4. Better Be – I personally liked the direction in which Better Be was going in. The song has this really smooth urban chicness feel to it, which stood out for me. This is thanks to an instrumental. The consistency (which tends to be a sore point for me) worked incredibly well in this song and aided the members to bring out that chicness through their contributions to the song. I really like the husky whispering of the song’s main hook, and the amazingness of the vocals during the verses and choruses. The harmonies also boosts up the song, while the rap-speak was well suited for this song. (9/10)

5. Pushin’ and Pullin’ – We get a bit more oomph in Pushin’ and Pullin’ thanks to the drums and bass. It is what is missing from the album. While it does align itself with the rest of the album, this is my pick for the strongest song on the mini-album. This is simple because of that oomph and that extra serving of vocals we get in Pushin’ and Pullin’. It was their strongest effort yet (on this album), as evident by the ad-libs. The R&B instrumental had a striking factor to it, thanks to the piano and drums. (9/10)

6. Hello, Sunset (다시, 여름) – We have heard sophisticated, pleasant and chic sounds from Red Velvet. And now it is dreamy Red Velvet. I really like how light the group’s vocals, especially when they sing together for the chorus. It was warm and definitely soothing. Instrumentally, the song is quite simple, tapping into the R&B genre, and there isn’t anything special about it. But if you were to take away one thing from Hello, Sunset, it definitely has to be the vocals. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

Queendom Teaser Image

[Album Review] My Collection (4th Mini Album) – Park Ji Hoon

Park Ji Hoon’s My Collection album review was supposed to be release last week. But as usual, I was a little behind (can’t remember why I ended up being behind schedule) and decided to hold back the review for this weekend. My Collection features the title track, Gallery, which was released back in August of this year, along with an intro track (which will be factored into the final album rating) and four other new songs. This is Park Ji Hoon’s fourth mini-album to date and follows his first studio album, Message, which was released at the end of last year.

My Collection Album Cover

1. Present On The Stage (Intro) – Personally, I am not a fan of this particular intro track. It isn’t terrible, but just not my cup of tea. While it is pleasant and has a bit of a hip-hop influence to it, I wasn’t liking the drawn nature of the vocals and the stagnant feel it provided. If I had to base the album on the first track, things wouldn’t look too bright. Present On The Stage may have made me skip over this album. (6/10)

2. Gallery (Title Track)Click here for the full review of Gallery. (9/10)

3. Lost (feat. LILBOI) – Once again, Lost isn’t my cup of tea. I am just not entirely drawn to the song, mainly because it didn’t feel like it got anywhere once Lost wrapped up. I do admit that the pop track was light and rather chilled. Park Ji Hoon brings some falsettos to the song, while LILBOI brought some dynamic energy to the song via his rapping. Neither was enough to convince otherwise about the song, however. (7/10)

4. Strawberry – You might think that I would apply similar comments as the preceding comments to Strawberry. And I would say you are partly right. Strawberry felt pretty linear and didn’t really feel like it developed as it progressed along. However, I do like Park Ji Hoon’s vocals in this song more. His hoarse voice was definitely shown off in this song, and it was a nice accompaniment to the soft R&B coffee shop-like instrumentation. His falsetto notes were pretty nice here, drifting in and out when it was added to the song. (7.5/10)

5. I Wonder – After two paced and vocally driven songs, I Wonder refocuses the album with an upbeat track, which to me is familiar territory for Park Ji Hoon. I much prefer this side of the artist. I will admit the song is pretty plain and simple, but I am sure that the performance for I Wonder would have been enjoyable to watch. I liked the slight dynamic nature that is brought into the song via Park JI Hoon’s vocals, and how upbeat the chorus was thanks to the heavier presence of the synths. It added meat and definition to the song, which I quite enjoyed. (8/10)

6. Remember (파도에게) – Ending the album is Remember. Like the intro track, Remember is also quite pleasant. But electronic synths in the song gives it a nice kick that I thoroughly enjoyed and sets it apart from the into track. Remember bundles all my comments above about Park Ji Hoon’s vocals and rapping into this one song. You get the dynamic nature from his rapping, and the hoarse vocals throughout the song. Both give this smooth instrumental nice and pleasant textures, and everything comes together to be quite dreamy. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

My Collection Teaser Image

[Album Review] MUST (7th Studio Album) – 2PM

It has been a while since we heard from this particular group. To be precise, five years. I am talking about none other than 2PM, who have been absent from the KPOP scene due to military enlistments over the last five years. At the end of June of this year, 2PM regrouped to release their 7th studio album, MUST, which features the title track, Make It. Amongst the new tracks alongside Make It is the acoustic version of their 2015 hit My House, which rose on the charts earlier this year once again. As per my album review rules, I will not be including this new version of My House and the intro in the final album rating score. This is also the final album on the album review blitz I have been working on over this weekend. Feel free to return to the home page to see the seven other albums I reviewed this weekend. Otherwise, here are my thoughts on 2PM’s latest release!

MUST Album Cover

1. Intro – The album begins the sophisticated jazzy intro, which I think is a great reintroduction to 2PM. It is mature. It is classy. It is everything that 2PM has pumped out prior to their military enlistment hiatus.

2. Make It (해야 해) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Make It. (8/10)

3. OK or Not (괜찮아 안 괜찮아) – For OK or Not, there are many great elements to this song. Firstly, the instrumental was quite dynamic. I liked the synthetic violins that were used in this song. It helped the song exude a mature and classy tone, but also fitted in with the rest of the synth instrumentation. Secondly, I liked how the members were in the forefront of the song. Their voices were clear and crisp, throughout. I did like the autotune filtering they applied to some of the vocals, particularly the hook, which added depth to the song. Lastly, the song’s hook was repetitive and catchy. It was also quite simple and clean, so it was super easy to appreciate. Overall, OK or Not is a strong and likeable side track. (9/10)

4. On My Way (보고싶어, 보러갈게) – I was lowkey waiting for a drop in On My Way, which ultimately didn’t come to fruition. The instrumental hinted towards a drop on multiple occasions, especially as the song was building up to the chorus. But instead, the song opted to just transition from pre-chorus to chorus without much flair, and this made On My Way slightly frustrating. Other than that, On My Way was a pretty straightforward song, with good textures thanks to the consistent use of clickity clacks in the instrumentation and the autotune. (7/10)

5. Champagne (샴페인) Champagne is the first standout song on this album. The instrumentation was very cool, with the contrast of bass and metallic xylophone being one of the most memorable aspects of the song. The synths take on an almost screechy profile, but they work cohesively with the rest of the song. Another memorable aspect included the dynamic that Taecyeon and Jun.K brought to the song via their rapping. It added drive and additional cool points to the song. I also liked the subtle use of brass in the song. (10/10)

6. The Café (집 앞 카페)The Café is a fun and bright pop song that remains within the classy parameters of the album. It is super easy to get into and enjoy, with melodies that I am sure will make you smile. I liked the additional highlights within the instrumentation from the xylophone tapping. The vocals and rapping were really nice here, as well. (9/10)

7. Moon & BackMoon & Back is a R&B song that I find to be quite well balanced and thoroughly enjoyed from start to end. The instrumental is quite texturally packed, thanks to all of the small details we get throughout the song (i.e. the disc scratching, the taps and clicks etc.). The vocals brings the smooth texture that one would usually associate with the R&B genre. My pick for standout member in Moon & Back is Taecyeon, with his really deep vocals. They just had such a strong effect and brought a different colour to the song, despite being one of the briefer elements of the song. (8/10)

8. Two of Us (둘이) – Continuing the R&B on the album is Two of Us, but this time over jazzy instrumentation that brings out a warm and happy atmosphere. You just can’t help but smile whilst listening to this song. The chorus of Two Of Us exudes an undeniable sweet tone. The best part of the song has to be the ending, when the members harmonize with one another in an overlapping manner. It isn’t like your typical harmonization in a ballad, where the members come in at the same time. In this song, it appears that one member starts slightly later than the other, but they still come together cohesively. (8/10)

9. Hold You (놓지 않을게)Hold You is a ballad, with a tinge of jazz in the background. I really liked how breathy their vocals are throughout the song, which gives off the appeals that fit right into 2PM’s wheelhouse. What makes Hold You even better are the harmonies we get between all the members following the chorus. I also thought the brass in the chorus adds definition to the ballad, making it much more dynamic than your typical ballads. (8.5/10)

10. My House (우리집) (Acoustic Version) Click here to listen to the acoustic version of 2PM’s 2015 release, My House.

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10


MUST Teaser Image

[Album Review] TURN OVER (9th Mini Album) – SF9

SF9 returned in early July with TURN OVER, their 9th mini-album since their debut, and the title track Tear Drop. This new mini-album follows the release of Special History Book, their special single album (which I didn’t review) that marked their fourth year as a group, which featured the special track Shine Together. It also follows the group’s participation in Kingdom: Legendary War, where they released |Believer| as their final round song (which is also featured on this mini-album). In other new, all nine members have renewed their contracts with FNC Entertainment at the start of the year. So that means that we will be hearing more SF9 into the future. But until then, here is my review for TURN OVER.

TURN OVER Album Cover

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

2. |Believer| (숨)Click here to read the full review of |Believer|. (9/10)

3. Love Again (한 번 더 사랑하자) – Love Again had a sweet and romantic vibe, which comes via the vocals and lyrics for me. It is also vocally centric, with the group putting their vocals on display and such vocals were extremely pleasant to listen to. The rapping was also quite fitting for the pop style the group had gone for. What makes Love Again even stronger is how appropriate the track sounds for the Summer season. This was thanks to the EDM flourishes that decorated the track. (7/10)

4. Off My MindOff My Mind is much more upbeat compared to Love Again, slipping into synth heavy pop territory. The synths brought out dynamic energy, which ultimately made the song so appealing to listen to. The vocalists did a really good job with their harmonization and breathy vocals in the chorus. The hooks they brought to life was also quite catchy and helped reel in more listens from me. The rappers definitely stood out and added to the dynamism of the song. (9/10)

5. Fanatic – Latin influences return in Fanatic. The track still stays within synth heavy territory, so this Latin influence doesn’t necessary repeat the same vibes that their more notable Latin-influence title track (O Sole Mio). To me, the combinations of the synths and Latin influence was a memorable sound on the album, and the synths gave Fanatic a lot of interesting texture. Vocally, the song showcased them proudly, while the rapping definitely added edge and SF9’s usual colour to the song. (9/10)

6. Hey Hi Bye – Final song the album is Hey Hi Bye. It continues the album’s reliance on synths. This time around, however, Hey Hi Bye delves into the retro world. More specifically, I think Hey Hi Bye features a heavy presence of 90’s new jack swing, but there are other retro influences in the song as well. It is all masked somehow by this consistent synth-like filter that complicates but also adds definition to the instrumental. It would be an understatement to say that there is a lot going on instrumentally, but it still an interesting mix nonetheless. I applaud the vocals who managed to stay on top of the instrumentation. They easily could have been masked by all the music. The rappers added depth to the song, which I think helped make it more dynamic. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

TURN OVER Teaser Image

[Album Review] THRILL-ING (6th Mini Album) – The Boyz

I am glad that we will got to hear more from The Boyz, particularly since the gap between their last official comeback (The Stealer) and this comeback is almost a year (to be precise, 9 months, but I rounded up)! The Boyz made their comeback at the start of August with THRILL RIDE, their most successful title track yet. It is featured on their 6th mini-album, THRILL-ING, which has also released on the same day. THRILL-RIDE and THRILL-ING is the group’s first domestic comeback of the year, and it also follows the group’s recent appearance on Kingdom: Legendary War, after the group won a ticket to the main competition through their appearance on Road To Kingdom last year.

THRILL-ING Album Cover

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

2. Out of Control (환상열차) – While THRILL RIDE was a lot brighter and peppy, Out of Control takes a serious turn with a slightly heavier sound. It features dramatic sirens throughout that really sets the tone for the song, and an intense EDM background for an otherwise pop melody. While I quite like the vibes and tone of the instrumentation, I kind of wished the hooks for Out of Control were more pronounced. Melodically (thanks to the vocals), it was quite satisfying. But I just found it was lacking that memorability. The rappers shined with their parts, and the bridge was hella smooth. (8/10)

3. Dance Til We DropDance Til We Drop brings forth funkier vibes that just makes you want to get up and dance. I just liked how emphasized the funky sounds were, making this is another strong instrumental. I feel that the chorus could have used a bit more bite when it comes to hooks and melodies. What we got was more so on the pleasant side and doesn’t do the funky vibes from the background in the chorus justice. But overall, a fun and bright track. (8.5/10)

4. Nightmares (黑花) – Looking at the tracklist, Nightmares was the clear song that would act as the album’s outlier. Just from the title, you can feel a dark vibe. And well, Nightmares exudes just that. It starts off with haunting harmonization before the song’s edgy instrumental comes into play. I really like that consistent hit of electric guitar we get as the beat in the instrumental. The vocals (including the whispery deliver, the harmonization we get in the pre-choruses and the high notes we are treated to) and the deep tone rapping further emphasizes the dark aesthetics of the song. Everything in Nightmares came together perfectly, and the song itself is my personal favourite on the album. (10/10)

5. Merry Bad Ending Merry Bad Ending combines the likes of EDM and R&B to create a pretty good song. While Merry Bad Ending is more of a vocally centric track, the EDM brings adds a rough texture to the song and keeps the appeal quite interesting. The R&B comes through via the vocals and adds smoothness to the song, creating a well-balanced track overall. The rapping adds a bit of edge to the song, which I find fitting with the EDM side of the song. (9/10)

6. B.O.Y (Bet On You) – The final song on the album is B.O.Y (Bet On You), a pop song with a nice blend of instruments and synths that I find extremely fitting for the season of Summer. I particularly like the use of acoustics in this song, with this particular element standing out over the synths for me (in a good way). The vocals and rap-singing adds some brightness to the song, and I liked the harmonies in the song. Altogether, B.O.Y comes off with a refreshing tone that makes it easy on the ears, as well. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

[Album Review] & (4th Mini Album) – LOONA

Next album I am looking to review is LOONA’s fourth mini-album, & (pronounced ‘and’), which was released at the end of June of the year. It features their title track, PTT (Paint The Town). This is the group’s first comeback since the release of 12:00 and Why Not. This comeback also marked the return of Haseul, who has been on hiatus for their last few comebacks. Like the recent album reviews I have been writing, I too also made a few remarks regarding the intro track but have not included it in the overall album rating, which will instead feature the other 6 tracks on the album. Anyhow, on with the album review!

& Album Cover

1. & – Kicking off the album is the howl of wolves and synths in this intro track. It is powerful intro track that features those traditional Indian elements also heard in PTT, teasing us with what is to come. But & is more than that. Dramatic and suspenseful synths precede and set a very strong tone.

2. PTT (Paint The Town) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for PTT (Paint The Town). (8/10)

3. WOWWOW is an upbeat jazzy number that comes off as an exciting addition to the album. There is also a bit of a familiarity with WOW, as the song sound similar to Wow Thing (a collaboration between Seulgi, SinB, Chungha and Kim Soyeon from 2018). Like Wow Thing, LOONA’s WOW is extremely lively and energetic thanks to the jazzy influences. It also adds a nice classy colour to the album, whilst also reminding some of their pre-debut work. The vocals shown off in WOW was impressive and had the right level of oomph for the song, which just makes this a satisfying track to listen to. Altogether, WOW was a great song. (9/10)

4. Be HonestBe Honest follows a similar upbeat and energetic nature as WOW. However, I didn’t find anything that grand within Be Honest, as I did with the preceding song. This song was a pleasant retro pop track and LOONA does pack a punch with their chirpy melodies and lines. The upbeat energy gives the song a nice kick and I will agree that it makes for a fun summer track. However, Be Honest just doesn’t come off as memorable for me. (7/10)

5. Dance On My OwnDance On My Own is this album’s English track, similar to how Star was LOONA’s English track. It is also the start of the album’s more toned down side, tapping into the R&B ballad general. It is a nice listen, with pleasant melodies. I liked the overall lightness of the song and the catchiness from the repeated ‘Dance On My Own’ hook. The issue with this song, in particular, is that it gets pretty repetitive, which may not be many people’s cup of tea. (8/10)

6. A Different NightA Different Night is another pleasant ballad. It is very light on the ears and is quite a blissful piece. Instrumental-wise, A Different Night isn’t anything different to your typical ballad. Classically instrumented. There isn’t anything wrong with this when it is done right, and I feel that A Different Night is an example of it being done right. Another great aspect of the song are the vocals. In A Different Night, harmonies are more prevalent and adds a soothing factor to the song. (9/10)

7. U R – Another R&B song to end the album. U R is a nice listen that continues the toned-down nature of the second half of the album. I like the breathy nature of the vocals and the lo-fi beats give U R a different profile from the rest of the toned-down tracks on the album. However, to me, it doesn’t have a memorable factor to it. I also find the song to be on the dry side. (6.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

& Teaser Image

[Album Review] SIREN: DAWN (5th Mini Album) – A.C.E

As you may know, I have been fretting about how behind I am with reviews! Well, here is a second album review! It is for A.C.E’s fifth mini-album, SIREN: DAWN, which was dropped in June of this year. It features the title track Higher and four other songs (including an intro track, which I wrote something about but did not include in the final rating). A.C.E also recently returned with a repackaged version of their fifth mini-album (Changer : Dear Eris) more recently, but all tracks on SIREN: DAWN does not feature on the repackaged version. Instead, the repackaged version includes some new tracks and alternative/new versions of some of their past songs. I have decided that I will not review the repackaged version, but I highly recommend the title track, Changer, if you still after an A.C.E fix. Otherwise, here is my review for SIREN: DAWN.

SIREN: DAWN Album Cover

1. INTRO : Miserere Mei Deus (We Fall Down) – How haunting and suspenseful is this intro track. There is always something about orchestral choir that sends shivers down my back, and I feel this intro track really reiterates that feeling. I also felt that the intro track fits in neatly with the concept pictures that were released to help tease this comeback.

2. AtlantisAtlantis is an alternative rock track that is quite consistent through and through. I like the subtle intensity that Atlantis has and I feel that the alternative rock in this song goes in the direction that I like. I also enjoyed the vocals in this song, which were moody and heavy, suiting the song’s tone. However, I wished that Atlantis wasn’t as consistent as it was, and that the climax was more fulfilling. I was mildly disappointed with the climax, as it made the song feel like it didn’t progress or go anywhere. (7/10)

3. HigherClick here to read the full review for Higher. (8/10)

4. Chasing LoveChasing Love started off as a moody R&B track. Nothing that special or mind-blowing, but the vocals and sing-rap were definitely captivating. There was a clear indication that the song was in an incline direction, however what the song ended up developing into was unexpected. The vibrant string synths in the chorus brought in a fresh kick that I enjoyed and was surprised by. I liked how the second verse maintained that vibrancy in its sound, allowing the vocals to build and add flair. The bridge was also a nice pause, with the acceleration to the final chorus being quite satisfying and impactful. Quite a dynamic and catchy track. (10/10)

5. Story – I like the chilled side of Story, which is ultimately a pop ballad. It creates an ethereal atmosphere and is quite alluring to listen to. Story shows off the group’s vocals abilities, which I have highlighted in the past before. In Story, their vocals are breathtaking in this song, especially when they sing together. The harmonies, falsettos and melodies that they bring to life are just so stunning. It also makes for a great album closer and eases you off the album in a very pleasant and nonchalant manner. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

SIREN: DAWN Teaser Image

[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

[Album Review] Stop Girl (7th Mini Album) – U-KISS

It is time for another album review for an album from the past. I have been wanting to review another album from U-KISS, so I thought to review the album that contains one of my favourite songs from the group, Stop Girl. The mini-album itself is also titled Stop Girl and this was the group’s 7th mini-album. It terms of its age, it was released way back on 10 September 2012 (which makes this album 9 years old in 2 days!). The mini-album featured six members (Soohyun, Hoon, Kiseop, Eli, Kevin and Dongho), with AJ (who was an active member of U-KISS in earlier promotions) taking leave for studies. The mini-album also features the English version of the title track, which I opted to not include in the album review. I did write a bit about the album’s intro, but also opted to not include the track in the final album rating.

Stop Girl Album Cover

1. IMMA NEW THANG (Intro) – I know I don’t usually focus on introductory tracks. But IMMA NEW THANG is one of those intro tracks that really grabs your attention with its edgy feel and intensity. It was definitely a new vibe from the UKISS that I knew at the time and I liked how they had the ‘Yeah’ from Stop Girl in the background.

2. Stop Girl (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Stop Girl. However, excuse the cringe me from back then. (9/10)

3. Time To GoTime To Go continues mature vibes from Stop Girl in quite a dynamic track. The instrumentation is predominately made up of heavy thumping, piano that gives off R&B vibes and a subtle underlay of synths to keep the song moving along. The vocal works from the members was quite impressive. I also like the rapping and the marching band drums that was the backing for the rappers. Altogether, Time To Go came together quite nicely and had a great sense of nostalgia for me. (9/10)

4. Remember (Acoustic Version) – As far as I remember, I don’t think I have reviewed the original version of Remember before (it might be due to the fact that the original version was a OST for a Korean drama). It was a nice ballad that showcases the vocal abilities of Soohyun and Kevin, who were the only members to be featured on this album. The piano and classical instrumentation was quite pleasant and soothing. My only gripe about the song is its placement on this album. It just doesn’t fit and felt misplaced between two dance tracks. (8/10)

5. Sexy Baby – I personally have no more memory of Sexy Baby. For this album review, I am writing my thoughts as if I had never heard the song before. Sexy Baby was nothing how I expected it. I expected a more sensual vibe that is smooth and alluring. But we didn’t get any of that. Instead, Sexy Baby was extremely synth heavy club vibe song. Its instrumental was just a heavy dosage of everything for me, which isn’t a common thought for me to have. In terms of vocals and rapping, I didn’t feel like there was anything interesting on that side as well. A passable song for me. (5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

[Album Review] Summer Queen / After ‘We Ride’ (5th Mini Album / 5th Mini Album Repackaged) – Brave Girls

As promised the week before, I would be fast-tracking the album review for Brave Girls’ latest mini-albums after the release of the repackaged version, After ‘We Ride’. Well, that was dropped two weeks ago, which enables me to finally prepare a review for the Summer Queen mini-album as well. What I didn’t expect is for the repackaged album to only feature one new song (i.e. the title track that shares the same name as the mini-album, After ‘We Ride’) and new versions of some of the songs on the Summer Queen mini-album. However, I still went ahead and combined the two mini-albums to form one album review. Included in the album rating for this album review is the tracklist of Summer Queen (excluding the English version of Chi Mat Ba Ram) and the title track of the repackaged album. The new versions of the Summer Queen tracks (present on the repackaged mini-album) and the English version of Chi Mat Ba Ram are linked in the review below, but do not contribute to the overall album rating I give at the end of all album reviews. Hopefully, it makes more sense as you read through the album review!

Summer Queen mini album

1. Chi Mat Ba Ram (치맛바람) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Chi Mat Ba Ram. (9/10)

2. Pool Party (ft. E-Chan of DKB) – I had plans to review Pool Party when a music video was released for the side track. But unfortunately it slipped and time got away from me. I liked this side track for a number of reasons. It was a stylish extension of Chi Mat Ba Ram, suitable for both the summer season which the comeback is clearly catered for and also a party environment (thanks to its synth pop instrumentation). The melodies and hooks were quite minimal in terms of effort, but they definitely went a long way. And E-Chan’s featuring was satisfying. Overall, Pool Party was a fun and upbeat addition to the album. (9/10)

3. Summer By Myself (나 혼자 여름)Summer By Myself reminds me of a blend of 90s old school hip-hop. There is just that nostalgic feel with the song and the vocals that give off vibes from that era. That being said, however, I felt some of the vocals could have been better. Some of it steered into a high pitch mode which came off as whiny for me. But apart from that, I enjoyed Summer By Myself. I liked the brass in the instrumentation, the beat of the song and how it wrapped up in a satisfying manner. (8/10)

4. Fever (토요일 밤의 열기) – Brave Girls continue to bring us back further into history with this retro disco number. But what makes Fever so good is the mature vibes that the members effortlessly pull off. It is another strong song from the group off this album. The vocals are very well done. The rapping was enjoyable. But the harmonised bridge was probably the members’ strongest asset in this song, flowing so smoothly to my ears. If I have to criticize the song for any reason, it would be the wobbly metallic synth we get in the background. I think Fever could have done without it. (9/10)

5. Chi Mat Ba Ram (English Version)Click here for the English version of Chi Mat Ba Ram.

After ‘We Ride’ Repackaged Mini Album

1. After ‘We Ride’ (술버릇 (운전만해 그후))Click here to read the full review of After ‘We Ride’. (8/10)

For the rest of the repackaged album, click the hyperlinks next to the songs:

2. Chi Mat Ba Ram (치맛바람) (Acoustic Version)Click here for the audio of the acoustic version of Chi Mat Ba Ram.

3. Fever (토요일 밤의 열기) (Remix) Click here for the remixed audio of Fever.

4. Summer By Myself (나 혼자 여름) (Piano Version)Click here for the piano version of Summer By Myself.

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

[Album Review] The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE / The Chaos Chapter: Fight or Escape (2nd Studio Album / 2nd Studio Album Repackaged) – TXT

Finally, after my promise to brings this to you two weeks ago, it is finally hear. Apologies for the dramatic entrance to this album review. Anyhow, this is my review of TXT’s second studio album. As you can see in the title of this post, I am lumping two album releases together. The first is The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE, which was the main album release and this occurred back in May of this year. Headlining this album were 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You) and Magic. Then, Big Hit Music announced the group would be returning with a repackaged version, leading me to delay the until after the repackaged version was released. In August, TXT returned with The Chaos Chapter: Fight or Escape, which was lead by the single LO$ER=LO♡ER. I have reviewed all of named tracks and now I turn my attention to the rest of the two albums.

1. LO$ER=LO♡ER (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for LO$ER=LO♡ER. (7/10)

2. Anti-Romantic – Since the release of the FREEZE album until now, this is probably one of the most spoke about side tracks on the album. And I don’t blame people for wanting to talk about Anti-Romantic. I am with everyone in saying that this is a top-notch track! It is mellow R&B song, but the atmospheric instrumentation felt like a bit of a rollercoaster. It started as a calm track and developed into a relatively erratic synth-heavy track towards the end. However, I liked this development and it kept the song interesting from start to end. I like how the song brings about the raspy tones in their voices, making this a captivating listen as well. And the line that contains the song’s title is just so memorable and well-articulated that it has since become a TikTok hit. (9/10)

3. 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You) (featuring Seori) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You). (9/10)

4. MagicClick here to read the review for Magic. (10/10)

5. Ice-Cream (소악행) – I am not entirely sure what to think of Ice-Cream. It is alone is a good track with potential, tapping into the pop realm of music, featuring a minimalist vibe and it incorporates the infamous line ‘I Scream, You Scream, We all scream for Ice-Cream’ repetitively. At the same time however, I felt the vocals especially for that repetitive hook was a bit too piercing and felt a bit much for the rest of the album. The vocal processing was also a bit much for my liking, especially since they proved their vocal abilities in the above songs. (6/10)

6. What If I Have Been That Puma? (밸런스 게임) – Personally, I could have done with less autotune. It felt a bit over the top and unnecessarily complicated the track. It too also pierces, but to a lesser degree than Ice-Cream. If anything, I felt it was bearable in What If I Have Been That Puma?. I liked the upbeat pop nature of the instrumentation. It was definitely fun sounding. I also like how it is directly connected to an earlier track of theirs (Puma from The Dream Chapter: Eternity). But other than that, I don’t see anything special in What If I Have Been That Puma?. (7/10)

7. No RulesNo Rules is another track that I hear often of. And it is the one song that I think deserves all the attention that it gets! The pop track has this underlayer of funk to it which makes it so appealing and catchy to listen to. It also adds a fun layer of energy to the song that just really speaks to me. Talking about energy, I really enjoyed the chorus package thanks to the burst of energy that leads into a powerful chorus, all the of brass and fun synths in the post-chorus hooks and catchy melodies. The vocals were superb, the rapping was awesome and the harmonies we got were amazing. Overall, my favourite side tracks off this album! (10/10)

8. MOA Diary (Dubaddu Wari Wari)MOA Diary was one of the three new songs on the repackaged version (the other two was LO$ER=LO♡ER and remix of 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You). It is a song for fans that is extremely sweet and fun sounding from the get-go. It too is also a pop song, and is probably their most straight-forward one yet. I don’t have much else to say regarding this song, as I felt I have summarised it pretty well with the sweet descriptor. Although I do want to point out that the song’s title ‘Dubaddu Wari Wari’ was sung so cutely in this song. (8/10)

9. Dear Sputnik (디어 스푸트니크)Dear Sputnik brings back the rock to the album. To me, I feel that TXT has found a niche that they can continue to explore. I will gladly tune into any comebacks from the group that digs deeper into rock music. Their vocals were so fitting and fitting for the genre, as proven throughout Dear Sputnik. But while I will admit that Dear Sputnik isn’t as intense as the title tracks, it still has that electrifying vibe to it that makes it so good. The dramatic start (which remained in the background for most of the track) was quite intriguing. (9/10)

10. FrostFrost also brings back some rock elements, but the song ultimately falls into the hip-hop genre. There is a much deeper and edgier vibe to the song, which is unlike any of the previous tracks that precede the song. It is also weird that it is placed at the end of the album, which is usually reserved for more cheerful or sentimental tracks to ease the listener off/out of the album. But I guess this is how TXT and their company gets fans thinking for the next release. I really liked TXT’s delivery in this song, with the growl and textures really bringing forth that edgy feel and tone. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

[Album Review] Sneakers / Select Shop (5th Mini Album / 5th Mini Album Repackaged) – Ha Sung Woon

As flagged earlier in the week, I am fast-tracking a recent album release for review this weekend as it is the repackaged version of an album I have yet to review (and this is something I might be doing more often, given my lag on this front). The album in question is Ha Sung Woon’s fifth mini-album, Sneakers, and the repackaged version, Select Shop. In total, we pretty much have a studio length album with the addition of five new songs on the repackaged album, on top of the seven songs on the original mini-album (numbers include the title tracks, Sneakers and Strawberry Gum). Because of that, this album review will be a lengthy one and there is no other reason to why I should delay launching into the review.

1. Cake – To me, Cake sounds quite pleasant and eases you into the album quite well. Despite the sweet-sounding title, the song isn’t that sweet. Rather it feels quite fresh and it is the type of song you want to listen to on a pleasant day out in Spring. The cheerful energy thanks to the brass and Ha Sung Woon’s tone was appreciable. But while I would say all the elements across the board in Cake were all pleasant, Cake wasn’t the most memorable number on this album. (8/10)

2. Strawberry Gum (ft. Don Mills) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Strawberry Gum. (8/10)

3. Let’s SingLet’s Sing has that retro pop rock style that could easily have slid into Hairspray or similar musicals. Ha Sung Woon’s vocals were really strong, especially his high note. It is a fun number that definitely makes me want to sing and dance, fulfilling its lyrics. My only criticism about Let’s Sing is regarding the chorus. It should have been punchier and more defined. The chorus we got did a good job, but I was expecting something more dynamic. If that was the case and Let’s Sing had a bulkier hook and a more colorful instrumental, I think this would have been a standout track. (8.5/10)

4. Galaxy DustGalaxy Dust has this atmospheric and aesthetic aura to it. This does a good job of pulling me in, almost hypnotic in a way. The synths and instrumentation was quite light and airy, which helped make the song a nice listen. The same can be said with Ha Sung Woon’s vocals. They were extremely pleasant and smooth throughout. It was such an amazing listen. Before I knew it, Galaxy Dust was over, and I was reaching for the replay button. (10/10)

5. Magic WordMagic Word is one of the songs that I thought the album could have done without. It isn’t a terrible song. I just wasn’t memorable and was forgettable. The instrumental was definitely unique, but in an obnoxious sense. It was a bit too abstract for my liking, and I do like abstract. It was also quite distracting, blocking me from enjoying Ha Sung Woon’s nice vocals. I kept on mistaking the vibrations to be notifications on my phone, and the water drop synths and co. just felt a bit much. (6/10)

6. Sneakers (스니커즈) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Sneakers. (9/10)

7. On & OnOn & On start off the Sneakers mini-album, but has been moved to the seventh song on the tracklist of the repackaged album. On & On is another pleasant mid-tempo pop ballad track, that brings forth very retro roots via its synthesizer-based instrumentation and percussion. Ha Sung Woon also sounds heavenly throughout the song, smooth and delicate being words I would use to describe the soloist in On & On. Definitely a great and somewhat unique take on the retro style. (8/10)

8. Why Don’t You See A Movie? (영화 한 편 볼까 하는데) – The Sneakers mini-album diverts to a more subdued and laidback sound. This is another song that I felt the album could have done without. Once again, Why Don’t You See A Movie? isn’t a terrible song. It just made me sleepy and didn’t have much going on to be as appealing as other songs on the album. The acoustic R&B instrumental paired with Ha Sung Woon’s falsetto vocals felt like something I would listen to while you venture into dreamland. (6/10)

9. Eeny Meeny Miny Moe – Similar to the preceding song, Eeny Meeny Miny Moe isn’t something I am head over heels for. It is still a nice listen (once again, Ha Sung Woon’s vocals are in very pleasant territory), and I feel that the song’s melodies and jazzy instrumentation does a good job of keeping the song churning along (and so doesn’t tire you out this time around). But it, compared to other songs on the album, just wasn’t up there. (7/10)

10. Don’t Leave Me Alone (겨우살이) – It seems like the album is stuck in a bit of a rut. Don’t Leave Me Alone is the third song that I am not that into. Don’t Leave Me Alone is a R&B track that does a good job of bringing forth breathy vocals. I do feel like Don’t Leave Me Alone gets better as it progresses, but it was quite a consistent number from start to end, which resulted in it feeling like a blur when I listen to the album in the background. (6.5/10)

11. Bus – We are definitely stuck in a rut at the back end of this album. Bus is the fourth song that is on the slower side of music. But I think Bus is more captivating than the rest, which makes it stand out amongst the five songs (including the next song) of this section of the album. Ha Sung Woon’s airy and husky tone in Bus helped made the song feel different. And the whispering delivery of some of the lines were quite unique. The slow but pleasant instrumentation may not have been memorable, but it did a good job of carrying the vocals without smothering or overpowering them. It is definitely a song that I wouldn’t mind listening to again, thanks to its individualistic style. (8/10)

12. Starlight (야광별) – The album finishes with another slow song. This time, a straight forward ballad. Starlight is another good song to listen to if you want something to fall asleep to, thanks to Ha Sung Woon’s delicate and paced vocals, and the traditional piano style instrumental. On a more positive note, however, Starlight has this warm feel and had a nice finish as both a song and an ender to the album. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.7/10