[Album Review] MCND Age (3rd Mini Album) – MCND

The next album review that I want to cover is MCND’s latest comeback. It is the first time I am sitting down to write an album review for the group, who made their debut back in 2020 with Ice Age. Their mini-albums have been on the shortlist for review before, but they ended up being cut due to time constraints. But not this time, as their side tracks on this mini-album deserve from praise. MCND’s new release comes in the form of their third mini-album and is titled MCND Age. The album was released alongside their title track, Crush, on the 8th of January 2021.

MCND Age Album Cover

2. Crush (우당탕) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Crush. (9/10)

3. LOUDER – Contrary to the name of the song, LOUDER isn’t actually louder than the title track in terms of volume. If anything, I felt like the two songs were on par with one another. But maybe the LOUDER title was based on the boldness of the song. This isn’t the case, however, as the song opts for a pop sound and just doesn’t have definition. But because of the pop direction, LOUDER is somewhat refreshing for MCND, who tend to go for heavier instrumentation and down the hip-hop hole. I find the song to be catchy and the drum work is definitely a highlight. (9/10)

4. KO, OK! – The boxing ring sound effects in KO, OK! aligns a little better with the song’s title. The song is also a lot bolder compared to the previous side track. It kicks off the song with some hype energy through the rap anthem. I liked that the song continuously returned to this hype sequence, driving even more energy into the song. This alone leaves a strong impression on me. The members do a really good job in the song, with both the rapping and vocal work coming off in a memorable manner. The synthesizer was definitely well utilized in this song and brought great texture to the song. It also made the song more addictive and interesting to listen to. (9/10)

5. PLAYER – We slip more into that hip-hop style of music that MCND has associated with themselves by listening to PLAYER. But while hip-hop tends to allow the rappers to shine the most, I find the vocal sections of the pre-chorus to be the most impressive showcase of MCND’s skills set. I find that to be quite interesting. But that doesn’t mean the rappers will let you down because they really help push the energy and intensity of the song. Essentially, if you enjoy abrasiveness effects, relentless energy and a pounding beat, then PLAYER is the song for you. (8/10)

6. Outro (ㅁㅊㄴㄷ) – Personally, I am not sure if this track serves as the outro of the album, or whether the song is simply titled as Outro. With the tracks that have fallen into the hip-hop genre thus far from this album, they have showed some uniqueness that I find quite interesting and different from the competition. Outro, as a whole, seems to step back into that generic side of hip-hop in KPOP. It is still a good song, nonetheless, as the other elements really made me overlook the generism. The piano introduction and the piano during the bridge showcased a nice style of different. I appreciate that the dance side of the song as it potentially could rival other groups whose music style is quite similar to Outro (i.e. ATEEZ). (7.5/10)

7. Not Over (아직 끝난거 아이다)Not Over seems to be a mix of styles in one song. Luckily, it comes together to be one cohesive track. It quite easily could have been disjointed and lacked harmony. But Not Over remains as one whole. I find the song quite nice, with a playful tone in one section, followed up intense vibe in the next. But it all balances out. Once again, the dance sections of the song provides high hopes for a really bombastic and dynamic performance. The rapping and vocal work also shows some level of skill. Overall, MCND ends the album with an all-rounder. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

MCND Age Teaser Image

[Review] Crush – MCND

MCND makes their comeback, just a few days after the group kicked off their musical career with their pre-debut single Top Gang one year ago. They later debuted in 2020 with Ice Age, and returned with Spring and nanana later in the year. On the Thursday and Friday that just passed, the five member male group from TOP MEDIA returned with Crush and their third mini-album, MCND Age.

Since their debut, MCND has managed to show more and more of their skillset to me through their main title releases. And it seems like Crush continues momentum with another pretty good song for me at least. Their new song has this playful persona especially when it came to the song’s chorus, which helped made the song appeal to my taste and make it likable. It is a little masked, however, which allowed the group’s hip-hop roots to flourish a bit more and help it be consistent with the rest of their discography. I am not troubled by this though, as Crush still comes out to be a really enjoyable song for me. The instrumental has this really nice energy profile throughout the song. From the looping guitars to the conisistent snare beats to the synths employred throughout Crush, everything comes together really tightly. I really liked the dance break section that formed part of the bridge, which felt like a brief reset before the song brought back the chorus in a more amped up and chanty fashion. Their vocal delivery was also quite good. It might have been a dull move when paired with other instrumentals. But the deep rap-speak delivery of the lines in the chorus worked really well and added that playful persona that I mentioned before. The ad-libs were also quite nice, giving the song some flair at the end. Altogether, a great listen from MCND.

Aside from choreography shots and closeups, the music video to Crush doesn’t have much else to it. But despite the basic formula, I did enjoy the various sets that the members shot those scenes in and the different angles/confined places that were used helped make the music video feel a little more creative. I do question some elements. The closeup shot of one of the members in a tanning bed doesn’t seem like a great message to send out to the audience (I come from a country where those are banned because they are dangerous and not great for one’s health). The whole final set of scenes where the members perform ‘outside’ with hot air balloons floating in the background made no sense and felt like a random addition. The hats worn by two members in those scenes were also horrendous. Who ever thought that pink fluffy hat in particular was good really needs to have a long think about themselves. But apart from those questionable elements, it was a good video.

With a song such as this and great energy being one of the highlights, it is expected that the choreography would carry through the same energy levels. And they do just that. The song’s playful nature also carries over, making it quite en enjoyable stage. The members’ smirks and smiles add another layer of appeal to the performance. That dance break we get at the end was another highlight of the choreography.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.5/10

[Review] nanana – MCND

MCND is looking to be the most worked rookie of 2020. They kicked the year off with their unofficial debut single TOP GANG. The group returned two months later with Ice Age and then two months after that with Spring. Last week the group made their third comeback (fourth, if you consider their unofficial debut) with nanana and the mini-album Earth Age. While this might be tiring for the members, the multiple comebacks will hopefully pay off long term as MCND will be name that constantly pops up every few months, which will make them unforgettable. But that is only they continue this pattern, with reasonable breaks for the members to cool off in between.

But the five member male group is currently in the midst of the promotions for nanana, so we should continue this review post. nanana can be seen as either two entities: (1) a blastful concoction that has a thrilling momentum, or (2) a noisy mess. I just don’t see an in-between descriptor. Currently I am in the mood for something vibrant, energetic and bombastic, so I am very well in the realm of the first option. I find the song to be fun, powerful and intense thanks to its EDM instrumentation. This may be overwhelming for some, and I understand where those people are coming from. Personally, I would prefer that each section was a little more distinct, because I will admit that it seems like a blur. The verses, chorus and bridge all sound quite similar. The pre-chorus was plain, but it was probably the only section that provided relief to the listeners and it was much appreciated. To keep up with the energy and fast momentum, the members had to rap their way through the song. A bit typical by today’s standards, but I enjoyed the energy they channeled through it. In order to compete with the instrumental, the members had to delivery their raps in a shouty way. Once again, this can be overwhelming for some, but I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the hooks of the song, which ended up being quite catchy. Despite it can be much from start to end, I find nanana‘s relentless nature to give it an overall dynamic vibe.

To match with the overwhelming nature of the synths in the song, the music video moves along quite quickly to match up with the tempo of the song. Though, aside from choreogeaphy and closeup, the only other thing to comment on about are the edgy sets. They have a bit of an intense flair to them, which keeps it aligned with the music video. I mean, flashy images on the screen and the stage was on fire. What more can you ask for?

Two things I like about this choreography. The first has to be how jumpy it looks. The second has to be how intense it looks, thanks to the music of course. I feel that if the song wasn’t too exhausting for them (i.e. the jumpy nature and the continuous shouty rapping), the members could have gone with more appealing and strong moves to highlight the song and their potential.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Peformance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Review] Spring – MCND

Making their comeback in the last week alongside the ones who I reviewed last week already is MCND. The group dropped their digital single, Spring, unexpectedly (well I didn’t know it was coming until I saw the actual music video release). For those who don’t remember or know of MCND (as they are a brand new rookie group), they pre-released TOP GANG earlier this year and debuted with Ice Age just last month.

In my last review for MCND (Ice Age), I mentioned that their debut single was kind of a step in the right direction as it provided some balance between the vocals and rapping. Spring seems to backtrack on this. But I am not complaining this time, as I thought Spring leverages the rapping to be one of the strong aspects in the song. It could have been toned a bit as it does feel very ‘in your face’. But as I said, I am not complaining. Alongside the rapping, there is still vocals in this song and the vocal work that we did get in Spring was rather good as well. I would have liked to hear the group in a song that is more dependent on the group, rather than the rappers, as I think that would be rather interesting version of the group. The instrumental is a very bright and quirky form of hop-hop. It gave the song a fun and colourful vibe, which really prevents the song stepping anywhere in the direction of a boring song. With all of these praises, I want to point out the song could have been upgraded with a more defined instrumental and better hooks. But what we good is pretty good already.

As mentioned in the song review part of this post, the song is rather fun and colourful. The music video is definitely a good reflection of this. The guys are shown to be having fun, while the visuals of the video were very bright and colourful. Completely different to the edgy tone they had in TOP GANG and their heavy usage of the colour white in Ice Age. The members are shown in a youthful style, through their school uniform (a rite of passage in KPOP and Korean culture) and casual outfits. I also liked their different visual details they added to the video, which adds to the modern profile of the music video.

I really like their performance style. With only five members, they are a relatively small group in the KPOP. So it is an expectation that they would keep all five members on stage at all times, like how they performed for the first chorus and onwards. But they continue to only perform in small groups for the first verse. They did a similar thing in Ice Age but I didn’t pick it up until I watched their performances a few more times. It isn’t a new thing, but I thought the group had an interesting tactic up their sleeves.

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

[Review] Ice Age – MCND

The next review that I am catching up on is MCND’s debut track. For those who don’t know, MCND is a newly formed male group that hails from TOP Media (the home of Teen Top, 100% and UP10TION). MCND previously released a pre-debut single (TOP GANG) earlier in the year with just five members (Castle J, BIC, Minjae, Huijin and Win), with the supposed addition of a sixth member, Yechan, once he returns to the company from 1THE9 promotions. But it seems like that plan isn’t going ahead, as the group proceeded with the five member lineup for their debut. The group made their debut last week with Ice Age as the main title track.

One of the main comments I made about the group’s pre-debut single was that there was a strong bias towards the group’s rap line due to the hip-hop heavy nature of the song. This left very limited material for an introduction from the vocal line. Ice Age seems to step in the right direction for this comeback, with a more vocal moments. To be precise, it was more of a rap-sing type of delivery during the verses, while the pre-chorus handled the actual vocal work. But still a much larger teaser to that side of the group in this song. The rapping, once again, has good momentum and helped give the song a loaded sound, despite the instrumental being a lot more tame than compared to TOP GANG. I find the chorus to be okay. I can see that it might catch on, thanks to its rough exterior but catchy repetition. There was also a sense of attitude, which I liked. But what I definitely wanted was some sort of melody, which would have helped the song be more attractive and appealing.

If they were looking to portray the ice age in their music video, they I think they did a very good job. There seems to be a cold-like vibe coming from the visuals of the music video. They managed to warm it up through the music, but the presence of ice and snow in the video tells us otherwise. And talking about presence of ice and snow, look at how white the video was. It helped make the colours pop and I thought that this was interesting. I thought the post-production of the video was good and their closeups made them look very charismatic in my opinion. Overall, good music video.

I thought the choreography for this comeback was definitely a strong one. The energy that they managed to pack into the chorus made it look very cool. There was also a smooth flow to the performance, which I liked. The first pre-chorus is evident of this, with the two members interacting with one another in dance in a way that I don’t remember seeing ever before in KPOP.

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

[Review] TOP GANG – MCND

TOP Entertainment has their fair share of male groups (Teen Top and UP10TION). But interestingly, none of their current lineup have delved into the hip hop genre that many male groups have been tackling. However, it seems that MCND is going to TOP Entertainment’s answer to this. The soon-to-be six member group made their pre-debut on the 2nd of January with a five member lineup (Castle J, BIC, Minjae, Huijun, and Win), with the sixth apparent member being Yechan (who currently is promoting as part of the project group 1THE9). No actual debut date has been set yet.

The group pre-debuts with TOP GANG, which is a track that has a heavy hand in the hip-hop genre. As mentioned on Monday through Zico’s review, this is not my cup of tea. It is loaded with raps and feels extremely weighted, which isn’t my personal style. But the rapping does have some momentum to with it, which drives the song forward in a neat manner. The song is no doubt a good introduction to the group’s rap line. After all, a lot of the hip-hop centric tracks tend show rappers in a strong, vigorous and tough limelight. However, their group’s current vocal line is short handed in this song, with their parts being forgotten and doesn’t even spark any curiosity about their potential. Other groups manage to find a balance in some capacity, but this track didn’t feel like it even tried. Hopefully their debut will find a little more balance between the two elements. I also wish their instrumental isn’t too typical in their debut track, which was the impression that I got in this track.

The music video starts off with some closeup that shows the members names, making it easy for new viewers and fans to identify the members (like an opening montage to some TV shows). And I think that is a great tactic when it comes to the first release of a group (rather than have rely on more physical features, such as face shape or hair colour, to determine who is who from their teaser images). For the rest of the video, there really isn’t much to it other than the members rapping and dancing along to the song. Plus some more solo closeups and group shots. There isn’t anything else that adds substance to the video to make it worth watching in my opinion.

One good thing about the performance that I noticed was that it gave some of the members an opportunity to perform without the other members in the background. I think this is a good way to be fair to all the members, especially after the unbalance nature of the song. The song also seems challenging to perform on stage, since it requires a lot of energy to rap and dance together in such a powerful manner like what they did. So props to them.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.4/10