I’ll be making more of an effort to review some newer releases, as well, and to kick things off, I’ll be taking a look at HYBE’s new boy group ENHYPEN, formed through the reality competition I-LAND. They had a debut that wowed me (and frankly, that review will be coming, lol), and I’ve had my attention on them going forward. There’s some anticipation here for this review, especially because the boys continue with the horror concept that was introduced in their first effort; you know I love me some horror concepts!
Their first comeback mini-album is titled “BORDER : CARNIVAL“, which, based on previews, takes the boys into a more party-like territory than the dark lonely feel of their previous effort, but it still has some spooky blood drenched all over it (the aesthetics are also the chef’s kiss).
With this mini-album, the boys attempt to elevate their border series to carnival status, but is this going to be bloody brilliant or is this just all dried up with nothing for us to get our fangs on?
Despite this being just an intro, “Intro : The Invitation” has a fantastic quality to it; its haunting introduction can be heard from their debut MV right at the end, so it makes sense to trail into the second effort here. This introduction has a great indie vibe to it that feels very early 2010s, and I’m totally here for it. There’s also a narration that, while I wish was more hauntingly delivered, amps things up into the title track, setting the tone for where the mini album is going. If this is the invitation to hell, sign me up! ⬛
“Drunk-Dazed” is the second title track from ENHYPEN, and while I’m not sure it’s entirely appropriate for boys underage to sing about being drunk, I can forgive them here as this title track is a bop from the start. The format is all there for your typical boy-band K-pop song, but it works so well here. It is heavy on the synth, and the vocals are delivered greatly, despite its AutoTune-like wiring, which I think adds to the effect of its haunting instrumental sound that booms and beats like none other. It is a song that pulses like a heartbeat, and with a concept that has blood coursing through its veins, “Drunk-Dazed” will have you going as dazed as the oohs~ that are delivered at the end of multiple lines. Are you drunk with this, yet? Because I am. ⬛
“FEVER” significant slows the mood down, but this time, the boys opt for a really sensual sound. It is here that their vocals continue to be muffled by the AutoTune-like distortions… I almost wonder if the entire album is going to be like this (and I certainly hope not, because the boys have some really great vocals that I’m sure they showcased well in I-LAND). Aside from that, the track itself has a sexy instrumental that has a reggae-like summer feel to it. It’s a sway track, and while I doubt I might listen to this more often, it still has a catchiness to it that I can appreciate. I don’t quite have a fever, but it’s getting there… ⬛
“Not For Sale” also is vastly different from the other two, opting for an almost tropical vibe meshed with a soothing R&B sound and topped with snaps in between. Its chorus has your usual top-40 tropical-house tinge, but it feels very nice to hear here, with the boys’ vocals being soothing as it goes along. Again, I feel like there’s something up with the vocal distortions here… perhaps their sound is intended to be a little more rough around the edges? It doesn’t totally put me off, but it doesn’t feel very clear. That said, this is a decent track, one that I prefer over “FEVER”. I know it’s not for sale, but I’d probably ask this song to take my money regardless, lol. ⬛
Romanization: Byeolangan (Mixed Up)
Translation: Suddenly (Mixed Up)
“Mixed Up” is the last full original track on the mini, and I don’t think it’s totally my cup of tea upon first listen, but I think I’ll (maybe) enjoy it a little more after a few listens. First and foremost, it is not totally catchy – though I’ll give it to the chorus for having a nice hook. However, if you told me if I remembered anything from this track, it’s probably only just the chorus. This sounds like your average boy-group track from the 4th generation… has a hard-hitting sound and the instrumental feels ‘edgy’. It’s just not for me, and I think this might get mixed up with other boy-group songs that just do not really hold it for me. ⬛
It sure does feel like a wormhole at the end, doesn’t it?
Taking on a more ethereal sound for the finale of the mini-album, “Outro : The Wormhole” has an ambience that is appropriate for its title, and it feels like things are closing up nicely with its epic vibe. The narrator has a lot of power in his voice to really deliver, and it almost feels like it ties right back into the intro almost like a never-ending journey. The carnival ends here but is it truly the end? It’s almost like the wormhole takes us all the way back to the beginning of this party… ⬛
Not a bad comeback from the boys indeed! That said, I think I preferred their debut over this one. Still, there’s a little bit of everything for K-pop fans to enjoy, from the dark depths of horror concepts to sensual vibes to even songs that prep you for the summer. This mini-album itself feels like the mood of a party/carnival, from the upbeat beats of its signature track to the slowed-down feel of some of its other numbers… there’s no denying their signature number is fantastic, but maybe I’ll give their other tunes a few more tries.
I still have my eyes on these boys, as the title track continues to amp up my expectations for their next releases. They appear to continue with the horror concept and I’m here for a boys version of Dreamcatcher, honestly. I-LAND definitely brought a great group to the scene, and I cannot wait to see what else they’re hiding up their blood-covered sleeve.
For more ENHYPEN reviews, visit the archive!