mini-album review: Kep1er “FIRST IMPACT”

Where are all my Girls Planet 999 fans at?

If you recall previously at the tail end of 2021, Mnet unleashed a new survival reality TV series known as Girls Planet 999, which is just a Produce 101 program with a fresh coat of paint (to hide all the drama of 2019). After several episodes, the girl group Kep1er was formed, with a lineup that had everyone talking.

After a bump in the release schedule thanks to COVID’s evolving forms, Kep1er finally makes their debut in the new year with “FIRST IMPACT“, a mini-album that might have you wa-da-da-ing with your mvsk off… but is the mini-album going to make you see the light on Kep1er? Let’s take a look…



Kep1er promoting FIRST IMPACT

See The Light

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Look at my eyes. What are you looking for? See the light.

See The Light” introduces the mini-album, introducing Kep1er overall, and it is an absolute banger. However, the unfortunate thing about this song is that it is also just an introductory track, so it clocks in at just under 2:00 minutes. That said, there’s an absolute charm and catchiness to “See The Light”. It has an ethereal space feel to it that expands into a full-blown future techno sound that I absolutely adore in many segments. Guaranteed, this introduction track will have you seeing the light on Kep1er.


WA DA DA

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

We’ll run faster than anyone else to the place we’ve been picturing.

WA DA DA” is Kep1er’s debut title track, and what a debut! Let’s break this down a bit.

Forgiving the strange line distribution of somehow having Dayeon as the one with the most lines, each girl in the lineup shines with a line or two, and vocally, they all slay. Yet, it’s not even the vocal prowess the girls have that makes this song such a stand-out; it’s that booming, club-like electronica instrumental that will have you going boom boom boom supersonic, vocalizing with the girls in a cute homage to O.O.O.

Some highlights include a segment featuring Dayeon, Xiaoting, and Mashiro, each of K, C, and J, respectively, and a slick verse line from Hikaru, and Chaehyun’s amazing vocal… to have the girls release a debut so impactful, “WA DA DA” will have you chanting along, no matter how silly its title sounds.


MVSK

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In that mask that was colored by the world… show me the real you, babe.

MVSK“, on the other hand, builds the perfect case for the B-side being so much more than the title track (even if the title track is amazing). My initial impression from the teaser was that it wouldn’t be as good, but I was certainly blown away.

“MVSK” (pronounced as mask) is produced by e.one, one of my favorite producers, and it takes e.one’s space-like sound to next level, with its hyperspeed-feel and twinkly synth in full motion all throughout. It is also a much better song for the girls to deliver their vocals, as everyone in the song sounds sultrier and more in control with their tones. A slight thing about it is the timing of the song in regards to the line ‘take off your mask’, but hey, let’s just forget about the state of the world for a moment…

“MVSK” is undoubtedly my favorite full original song on the mini-album, and I only wish they could promote this alongside with “WA DA DA” (but who knows, they could!).


Shine (Kep1er Ver.)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I become a star. I’m gonna make you shine up there to the sky.

Shine (Kep1er Ver.)” is the first of the string of Kep1er covers for Girls Planet 999 tracks, with this track a cover of the finale performance song (which, if you might recall, had all 18 girls perform in two teams but altogether).

Not much changes in the Kep1er version of the song, with the amount of vocals in the song being toned down to just 9 girls. With the aside that Bora should be in the song because she killed it in the original GP999 version, “Shine (Kep1er Ver.)” is still a fun song, with its production very much fitting for a finale of a reality TV show competition; however, as a song to listen to outside of the show, it’s not really a shiner for me.


Another Dream (Kep1er Ver.)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Another dream, with you. With you, I’m not intimidated by anything in this world anymore.

Another Dream (Kep1er Ver.)” is the next song in the string of Kep1er covers of Girls Planet 999 songs. This time, the girls cover the finale ballad song that is a staple of every Mnet singing reality competition, and it continues to be a great ballad. The girls sound just as angelic as ever, and I’ve had no doubts about how the version will go, considering I’ve watched these 9 girls develop their abilities vocally.

That said, it completely deflates the ‘impact’ of the last four songs, putting us into a strange middle. I did expect this, so it wasn’t like I was surprised or anything; it just feels like it should end the album. Maybe in another dream, I’d get my wish, but for now, this is another track I might skip over a few times.


O.O.O (Over&Over&Over) (Kep1er Ver.)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Now, my dream is being passed on to you beyond the universe…

O.O.O (Over&Over&Over) (Kep1er Ver.)” caps off the mini-album with the final Kep1er cover of a Girls Planet 999 song, and this time, it is the theme song. What is very interesting here is that the complete impact of its original is totally stripped down to just 9 vocals, and it’s quite unfortunate, because I absolutely love the original song. It feels a little empty, and I only wish they had all 9 girls take part in vocalizations for parts that had many of the girls in the original sing.

Alas, it still is a nice way to end the mini-album, and one that will have many Girls Planet 999 fans feeling a sense of nostalgia, when really, it was only two short months ago that we witnessed the finale event. Maybe one day I’ll listen to this over and over, but for now, it is just oh-nly once in a while.


OVERVIEW

FIRST IMPACT” has hit Earth and boy, did Kep1er hit us hard!

It is a great mini-album, and while it is slightly bogged down by the Kep1er covers of Girls Planet 999 songs, of which I feel should have been spaces for newer tracks (but alas), the mini-album still holds its own with its three original tracks. “WA DA DA” makes for a great debut, and I’m only hoping Kep1er can ‘La Vie en Rose’ their way to the top. But if I really had to make a case for Kep1er to be on your radar, it has to be “MVSK”, which will have you showing the girls the real you.

Giving Kep1er a recommend! I cannot wait to see what they have in store next, and whether that second release is a ‘second impact’, then I hope it has an even bigger impact than their first offering. See you in the future, Kep1er, and my fellow Kep1ians!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

MUST-LISTEN: MVSK, WA DA DA

For more Kep1er review, visit the archive!

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