[Review] Tamed-Dashed – ENHYPEN

ENHYPEN returns with this week with their latest (but delayed) release, Tamed-Dashed. It leads their first studio-length album, Dimension: Dilemma, which was also released today. This is the group’s first comeback since their last one – Drunk-Dazed and the mini-album, Border: Carnival. Originally, this comeback was confirmed for end of September, but unfortunately some of the members tested positive for COVID-19, which ended up delaying this comeback. The members seemed to have quickly recovered from the illness and thus this only pushed out their comeback plans by less than a fortnight.

Tamed-Dashed is a pretty cool dance song, though I do have some reservations with it. What I really like about the song was its intense instrumentation. It was very consistent throughout, thus adding more to this intensity. There is a mixture of guitars and synthesizer used throughout the song, at times blurring with one another. This feels intention, so the song can come off as cohesive (which it does!). The bass really drives the song and it is what really pulls me into the song. It is also what makes Tamed-Dashed so satisfying and weighted for me. The guitar blends into the mix by opting for deep effect, it literally grumbles along but also adds so much texture to this song. The synthesizer is what adds energy to the song and really gives Tamed-Dashed its vibrant factor. Altogether, the three elements come through and make Tamed-Dashed‘s background fulfilling and electrifying. My reservations for Tamed-Dashed comes into play when I focus on other aspects of the song. The vocals, while were decent and brought a youthful factor, just didn’t seem satisfying. I wanted more from the members, and I feel that there was a lot of opportunity for the members to flourish throughout Tamed-Dashed. The melodies were good and they caught on, But I feel without this unique instrumental backdrop, the melodies would have fallen flat (as the instrumentation seems to be the only aspect that gets me to come back to the song). Overall, a satisfying song thanks to the instrumental, while the other elements underwhelm.

Do I have the slightest clue on what is happening in this video? Nope. My wild guess (and I am grasping at straws here) is that this video reiterate the theory that they are vampires, which was a theory that I had from their Drunk-Dazed music video. It explains to me why they have remained youthful despite travelling through different eras (as depicted by their outfits). The burning of the skin also seems to be a major part of this theory for me. At one point, they couldn’t reach for the ball without their skin burning. But something happened (not sure what) which enabled them to go into the sun without burning and play some rugby, which has stayed with them through the eras. Aside from the plot, there isn’t much else to the video.

The performance was okay, but feels like the weakest of all their title tracks thus far. It looks a bit plain and constricting. I am impressed that they would be throwing the rugby ball around during the bridge. While it looks like they slowed down the choreography to ensure they can catch the ball without it hitting any other members or overshooting it completely, it still looks risky.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10

[Album Review] BORDER: CARNIVAL (2nd Mini Album) – ENHYPEN

Next up on the album review influx is ENHYPEN, who returned with BORDER: CARNIVAL (the group’s second mini-album since debut) at the end of April. Leading the album is the title track is Drunk-Dazed, which received a positive review from me. This album release follows the group’s debut at the end of November 2020 with Given-Taken and BORDER: Day One, which was also deemed as a very success debut based on the rookie awards they won within two months after their debut (Note; they will be considered for the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards New Groups Awards). And so the expectations for this comeback were high. Let’s see if they reached those expectations.

BORDER: CARNIVAL Album Cover

1. Intro: The Invitation – If you want creepy, the opening few seconds of The Invitation is probably after. The childish nursery-rhyme like melody feels like it was taken out of a movie about a haunted house where the ghost is a young child who tragically died many years ago. But while that does give chills, the song isn’t just a sample from a horror movie. It quickly develops into a hypnotic indie retro synth track, with the chanting ‘Feel like I am in paradise’ line that is quite catchy and Jake’s narration that invites you to the carnival. A great opener, if you ask me. Only downside is that it is short. (9/10)

2. Drunk-DazedClick here to read the full review of Drunk-Dazed. (8.5/10)

3. FEVER FEVER follows the title track. It is also the follow-up promotional track to end their BORDER: CARNIVAL promotions and was given the music video treatment (which I will revisit in the future). FEVER starts off as a slow dance track, taking on what sounds like a R&B mix. The entire song is kept in this slow gear. It personally isn’t my cup of tea. But I guess fans would enjoy this sultrier and more mature vibe from the group that the slowness managed to bring out. I do wish we got to hear more of their vocals with less vocal processing. It did feel a bit much in this song, to be honest. (7/10)

4. Not For Sale – The next song on the album is Not For Sale, which seems to mash up more R&B with a tropical house influences this time around. It comes out to be a nice and pleasant mix, one to definitely enjoy in this current summer season. Once again, the vocals are heavily processed in this song. I am not sure why the producers felt it was necessary in this song. I felt the ENHYPEN members could have done an amazing job with rawer vocals. And as a result, I enjoyed the live performances more (they promoted this track during their comeback week). And it here that I find the song more wholesome sounding and warming, feelings in which I didn’t get initially when I listened to the official audio. (7.5/10)

5. Mixed Up (별안간) – For me, Mixed Up was the best side track on this mini-album. I found myself drawn to the rock vibes that we get in the song, peaking through the heavier hip-hop influence of the instrumentation. I kind of wished it was more dominate, especially since it made the pre-choruses feel so powerful. For once, I think the vocal processing is justified. It gave the song that tiny bit of rough texture that felt appropriate for the instrumentation. It also helped infuse some edge in the song. I found the beat and chorus to be memorable and catchy. Overall, a great addition to the album. (9/10)

6. Outro: The Wormhole – Leading out the album is The Wormhole. It is quite an atmospheric minute and half, and I liked how the song built upon itself. It gave off the effect as if you were being pulled into a hole, which essentially is a wormhole. Jake returns to narrate in this track. I do question the need for the vocal processing over a narration, as I found it hard to understand him (Note: I speak with an Aussie accent, so I think I can comprehend him pretty well). I felt that the instrumental did a good enough job of drowning his narration as it inclined. But I guess it could be an artistic choice. But overall, a great track that gets me excited for their future releases. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

BORDER: CARNIVAL Teaser Image

[Review] Drunk-Dazed – ENHYPEN

New week, new comebacks. First up this week is ENHYPEN’s latest comeback, Drunk-Dazed. It is featured on the group’s second mini-album, Border: Carnival, which also dropped today. This is also the newly debut group’s first comeback since their debut at the very of November of last year, with Border: Day One and Given-Taken. Since their debut, ENHYPEN has scored a number of rookie awards during the KPOP award season that occured throughout December 2020 and January 2021. This is especially an amazing feat, given that they had a month to make an impact on the industry. And with rookie awards coming their way, it seems like ENHYPEN just did. For the KPOPREVIEWED Awards, ENHYPEN wasn’t nominated, nor did they win any awards due to their late debut. Instead, they will be considered as rookies for the upcoming 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards later this year. But there is a long way to go, so let’s start off with a review of their latest single.

Drunk-Dazed is a really powerful pop song. I have to start off by focusing on the chorus, which to me, was the best part of the song. The unquestionable blast of energy that we get thrown into from the chorus was very exhilarating and thrilling. Imagine how it would sound when Drunk-Dazed is on full blast! It doesn’t help that the hooks here were super catchy and addictive. Both worked in harmony to create a really relentless and upbeat part of the song that I thoroughly enjoyed. The verses don’t have that same impact or memorability as the chorus, but they had their charm. Both essentially had the same make up, with its consistent thumping and build-up to the chorus. I really like the rock vibes that comes from verses, which made the energy of the chorus feel like it was brewing in the background of the verses. The pre-chorus had a nice nostaligic ring to it. When it came to the bridge, I was a bit let down by the drawn out nature of the part. It just didn’t feel like a right fit for the song, from my prespective. I was glad it was brief and we returned to the familar tune of the chorus. The extension we got at the end of Drunk-Dazed felt appropriate for the group. Throughout Drunk-Dazed, the members sounded mature or at the very least didn’t feel like they were teenagers. But I detected some bright youthfulness in their tone in that final bit that matches the group’s profile given their young age. Overall, Drunk-Dazed is an addictive song full of great energy, fitting for a party vibe.

And I am glad that party vibe was translated into the music video. It appears the members are werewolves (or vampires, not too sure). They lure a fellow school mate to a party they are having, persumably to suck their blood. After all, she was invited to a bloody birthday party. We get a sense they are after blood by drinking it at the party (i.e. one of the members add blood to a glass of water pre-party, plus the raining blood at the end of the video). The member who we see dancing the blood rain falls to the ground to wake up surrounded by the rest of the group. We then see the school mate arrive with the invitation in hand, unsuspecting of what is about to happen to her. It also appears that the members have been around for a while, with scenes at the party were followed up by scenes of the members celebrating a birthday back in the early 1900s, based on the way the yellow filter was added to mimic the video footage of that time period. In the second verse, we see 1980s style effects, mimicing music videos from that era. There also seems to be a bit of telekinesis, teleportation, pyrokinesis (seems all of this is reminding me of American Horror Story: Coven). I like the story and how they conveyed the clues. Though I am still not clear if they are all werewolves, vampires or a mixture of both.

When it comes to the choreography, I have similar thoughts of it as per the song. I really like the routine during the chorus, including the zombie start and the wavy motion they used to represent the second ‘Dazed Dazed Dazed‘ hook. I also thought them lying on the ground and spinning was a cool move in this routine. Overall, a nice routine.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.4/10

[Album Review] Border: Day One (1st Mini Album) – ENHYPEN

I know I promised the restart of reviews yesterday, but I decided to delay that to focus on some other stuff for the blog. I will restart the reviews tomorrow when the first 2021 release officially drops and I will then return to writing some other 2020 reviews. In the meantime, I hope the next album review suffice. The artist at the focus of the album review is ENHYPEN, who made their debut at the very end of November with Given-Taken. The song was featured on the group’s first mini-album, Border: Day One, which has sold over 300,000 copies since its release. Given-Taken faired pretty well, so let’s see what I thought about the rest of the mini-album.

Border: Day One Album Cover

1. Intro: Walk The Line – There are some vocals in the Intro track, which lands itself on the reviewing block. Honestly, I don’t have much else to say aside from that Walk The Line sets the tone for this mini-album. The music itself is quite atmospheric. It, as a whole piece, pretty much felt like a marching band was following them as they embark on their journey as artists. The members also sing ‘Walk The Line’ in Italian, which isn’t a language we see at all in KPOP. Definitely a good start to the mini-album. (9/10)

2. Given-Taken (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Given-Taken. (8.5/10)

3. Let Me In (20 Cube) Let Me In a lot less serious compared the title track. It actually taps into a more vibrant sound, which I find appropriate for the youthfulness the group brings to the industry. To me, the song is a solid dance track that features a hint of a reggae beat. The vocals are nice, though I felt that they could have reduced the autotune that filtered their vocals. Just a personal preference of mine. I also did think the song needed a more substantial rap sequence. Ni-Ki teased us with his really deep voice, but I wanted more of that in the song. (8/10)

4. 10 Months 10 Months continues the upbeat and vibrancy from the previous track. It is a fun number with a bouncy instrumentation. To me, it wasn’t a really interesting track. It was a nice listen and I did enjoy the energy that came from it. But I wanted more from the group in this song in terms of vocals and rapping. I also wanted more robustness and dynamism from the producers. The only interesting moment(s) worth mentioning was the unique (and possibly fancy) way the members sang ‘Love’, which sounded like ‘La-Uve(6.5/10)

5. Flicker Flicker was a song previously performed on the I-LAND. Though this version is at a higher pitch and felt a bit faster than what was performed on the show. The instrumental was definitely texturally interesting, with its use of guitars and other synths. The members also sound more promising in Flicker than the other side track, though the excessive autotune could have been reduced. Listening to this song (and taking in account my thoughts from the songs above), the group aligns better with a mature and serious tone. It just seems to click better and felt more nature for me. (8/10)

6. Outro: Cross the Line – The outro track doesn’t feature any vocals per say, so I won’t include it in final album rating score I usually give. But I have to make a few comments about it. It is so creepy. The voices of the kids in the background were chilling. The European (possibly French? roots) instrumental influences were very haunting. And this was all followed by rock version of the Phantom of the Opera’s most iconic tune. Hopefully, this outro is teasing us with what is to come. I would totally be game for this.

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

Border: Day One Teaser Image

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[Review] Given-Taken – ENHYPEN

Despite already having BTS and TXT under already under their company name, it seems like Big Hit Entertainment is still hungry for another male group (Don’t worry to all you female group stans, Big Hit has confirmed a female group is coming our way in 2021). This new male group is called ENHYPEN and they were formed through the survival show I-LAND, which aired earlier this year. Seven members were chosen to be part of ENHYPEN’s lineup, including Heeseung, Jay, Jake, Sunghoon, Sunoo, Jungwon, and Ni-ki. Their debut single is titled Given-Taken and was dropped earlier today.

Given the current status of Big Hit Entertainment, I feel that any act who debuts under the Big Hit name is guaranteed success. But honestly, I don’t think ENHYPEN needs this guarantee given the calibre of Given-Taken itself. It is on a whole new level. Given-Taken starts off with this really beautiful harp that already screams out uniqueness. This start already feels quite tense, which is always a positive thing. The harps continue throughout the first verse as we get a slow and moody beat to accompany it and vocals. There is also some rapping. It was pretty much masked to be like the vocals and I wished they didn’t do that. Throughout the song I was yearning for something edgy and dynamic, which the raps would have served extremely well as a carrier for these two characteristics. Given-Taken then changes up the song by going into a pop-centric chorus. It reminds me of TXT’s Crown, just without the colour. If you couldn’t tell by now, but Given-Taken throws dark vibes right at you from the first second. I like the ‘To You… To… Me‘ part of the chorus. The second chorus was more so the same as the first verse. I wished they did something more with it. Likewise with the bridge. But it doesn’t mean I find the song terrible. I am totally digging this release. and will enjoy it no matter what I say about it. And it isn’t all ‘I want more’ with these parts. These sections do show and confirm with me is that ENPYPEN’s vocals are solid. I did not detect a weak spot throughout the song or any flaws in this department. Honestly, a really good job by this new group.

The lyrics of Given-Taken hints towards a dark concept. With lines such as ‘Red blood on that crown, That blood dripping down, Red Blood‘, I don’t think sunshines and flowers is going to cut it. To match with the dark vibes of the song, the music video opts for a horror theme. Oh, how I wished this debut was timed to coincide with Halloween. That would have been iconic. There isn’t anything scarier in this world, until you introduce little children to the story. And I feel that is the premise of the music video. The boys look innocent, but they (or at least one of them) has something to hide (i.e. he is an vampire). That scene at the end was expected once it started playing. But that particular member’s smile (sorry, I don’t know any of their names yet) to show off his fang was really haunting. Likewise, the really captivating yet probably trigger-warning worthy nose bleed start was definitely something I am sure people will be chatting about. I could literally sit here and list all the scenes that impressed me (hint: I was impressed by all). And all the member showcased perfect acting skills throughout the video.

The snippets of the choreography that I saw in the music video told me one thing. Never to underestimate ENHYPEN when it comes to their dance skills. This is only their debut song, yet their performance skills look like they have been around for many years. They looked super mature, despite their young age. Aside from that, I didn’t see any mind blowing or impressive moves that would have made me more eager to watch more of their stuff. I definitely will, though. I just wanted to explain why I am not giving them a 10/10 this time around (based on what I saw in the music video).

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.1/10