I’m kinda pissed off because I had saved (or so I thought!) a huge portion of my Infinite review and now I can’t find it. What. A. Bummer.
Anyway, I’ve noticed people have been scattering around trying to learn about this group; who they are, what their names are, what they sound like. I can tell because it’s been a popular search term leading to my blog in the last 48 hours. Here’s my take on their EP. I’ve even gone outta my way to list their names, so rejoice!
Earlier this year, Epik High‘s Tablo let out interesting details via Twitter that Map the Soul and Woollim Entertainment (Epik High’s former record label from 2003-2008) were merging to form a brand new boy band named ‘Infinite’. They were featured in Epik High’s music video for ‘Run‘ and even snagged a reality show all to themselves as a little introduction to who they are as human beings.
Let me give you the rundown. Refer to the picture above as I’ll be listing their names accordingly. From left to right: We have HoWon, then the group’s maknae (the youngest member in the group) named Sung Jung Goon who’s still a student in high school…I presume. Next is WooHyun, skip the guy in the beanie and you have Dong Woo, Sung Gyu, then there’s MyungSoo (or more commonly known as ‘L‘) who is the most popular member at the moment, and lastly, Sungy Yeol. Let me know if I named them correctly. Here’s a video of them talking and things, sans the maknae since he was focused on exams at the time:
Let it be known right now that these guys are basking in the Epik High treatment. Infinite’s agency has blessed them with some very talented stylists. I’m personally digging all the looks I’ve seen them in, especially the fabulous-styling in their fresh-off-the-press music video.
And speaking of, I’ll be getting into my review on their debut EP…right…now.
The intro track is the same one used in their first teaser. People like to skip these because they’re short and, well, intro tracks, but this one in particular really sets the tone for the rest of the mini-album. It’s got all the beats, strings and synths that you’ll hear throughout Infinite’s “First Invasion“. By the way, don’t you just like how they’ve cleverly titled this EP First Invasion? They’ve arrived and definitely have plans for a second serving.
‘First Invasion’ gives us a peak at the kind of music Infinite has managed to bust out under Epik High’s supervision with the title track “다시 돌아와“. In this song, Infinite has taken the usual poppy formula and scribbled all over it. They’ve brought things in from guitar riffs to trumpets and topped it off with a catchy chorus. I haven’t matched voices with names yet, so sorry about that. They’re a seven member unit – I’ll catch up, eventually.
If you remove just one element from “다시 돌아와“, the song loses its classical-style. For instance, the guitar, which strums for the entire duration of this song, is a vital element, for if it went missing, this song would be dependent on nothing but dead air. It would sound much more mundane without it. I particularly like how it (the guitar) settles down a bit during the middle 8, a section which plays off the up-tempo madness happening in the rest of this song. I’m a big fan of songs experimenting with tone in their structure and nice falsettos. Lucky me.
The second track is probably my favorite. “She’s Back” is a feel-good, easy-listener with lovely melodies left and right. The little interlude after that guy who repeats “come back to me, come back, back-back to me” is quenching my long lost thirst for electro-pop. Only Argentina’s very own Miranda! and Mexico’s Belanova know how to hit electro-pop like no other, but this song is really representing South Korea right now. As an added bonus, we get a nice feel for their vocals. They’re not powerhouse vocals, but well trained enough to sound engaging and beautiful on this recording. This one will be on repeat for a while…
as well as “날개/wings”. Whoever produced the instrumentation for this song should have the words ‘musical genius’ tattooed on their wrists or something, because it’s exquisitely crafted, at least in my opinion. The way in which it stands alone with just a lower register-string section and hip-hop beats for most of the verses appeases my inner musician. I’ve mentioned before that I think 90% of string sections in pop songs are unamusing because people can’t get the hell over violins and high registers. But this song already won brownie points for hitting the lows – nicely done, by the way, in the second verse. The added electro-elements near the end is a pleasant bonus. Not to put any big-time superstars to shame, but SS501 could have so taken their ‘Destination‘ album to a whole new level if “날개” was theirs. Just saying. The following song (붙박이 별/Built Stars) is the obligatory-slow roller. It’s the only song I can live without. Personally, South Korean pop music still delivers lukewarm ballads. I have a rather elaborate taste in ballads, and I sometimes let these kinds of mundane attempts at drama slip by, but not today. What makes this slow-tempo song so unoriginal to me is the fact that any Kpop boy band can take it and call it their own. Those BEAST kids could use this. Even U-Kiss. It’s just not as exceptional as the rest of the album has proven to be. And I will cut a ho if I hear another middle 8 that changes key like this one has. One of my biggest pet peeves, for real. Consult me, Tablo; I can show you where all the ballad reserves are located. I wouldn’t mind sharing.
The last song “맡겨/Leave” is pretty cheesy and I actually like all the rap over everything else going on. I enjoyed how the rap playfully stuck its head between lines in the hook and chorus. I’m reminiscing to the late 90s/early 2000s in this song. “맡겨” is not my preference – I’m more into harder-edged songs, you know, a little more fierceness and less cutesy-pop – but for what it is, this song is properly made and it’s spewing with charm.
In fact, this entire EP is charming. Infinite has established a high level of quality (thanks to Epik high and Woollim Entertainment) and a unique style of pop distinct from what is already exposed in South Korean pop culture. I do have to say, there’s a certain degree of an acquired taste here. Not everyone will enjoy this. Coming from the fact that Epik High had something to do with this boyband, some people will be let down. It’s probably too pop and not enough hip-hop and rap. But to each his own.
I’m personally smitten right now and I hope they deliver on their live stages. You know how those change everything…