[Mini-Album] NU’EST W – WHO, YOU

WHO, YOU is the second mini-album released by NU’EST W. “Dejavu” was used as the promotional track and was yet another hit for group.

whoyou

Released: June 25, 2018
1. Signal
2. Dejavu
3. Polaris (북극성)
4. ylenoL
5. Gravity&Moon (중력달)
6. Shadow

Things open up with Signal, which is a funky, EDM tune with some light tropical house elements. It keeps up the atmosphere that was building from the group’s previous mini, but I feel like it is more focused and stronger. It’s a bit generic considering the music climate, but it’s without a doubt a solid pop tune. It’s catchy and has a great synth backup, so while it isn’t anything particularly new, it is a decent tune to hear.

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Dejavu is an interesting tune. It keeps up the EDM sound of the last song, but with an even sadder quality to it. It took me a while to really get into this song because the transition into the chorus is so anticlimatic. However, that funky bass that comes plopping in really helps to give the song some sex appeal. It’s not as in-your-face as “WHERE YOU AT”, but there is a slithering quality to its melody.

I’m actually a bit upset that the group decided to go down the coffeeshop route with the next one. I’m always on the fence with songs like Polaris. This one has some nice qualities to it and I actually like the softness of the verse. The chorus has a bit of progression to it that I like, but in the long run, it’s just a bit boring. I feel like it would have been better with some more punch in the arrangement.

Bringing us back to the upbeat side of things is ylenoL, which is a lighter pop EDM tune. Even if they continue the EDM elements, I wish they played with things a bit more. This isn’t a terrible song, but the chorus is flat and its falsetto delivery sort of makes the impact lessen. It’s cute, but not really that interesting.

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I am thankful that things don’t slow down fully. Gravity & Moon sort of combines the EDM elements with something more hip-hop. This already makes it stand out in a fun way. The melody is definitely more interesting than the last song. Unfortunately, the arrangement doesn’t quite live up to the energy. There are points where things sound bare and cold, where this kind of song would benefit from something more explosive.

I’m definitely thankful that things end with Shadow. This is the best song on the mini. The beat is funky and while there are the expected EDM elements, things are done in a more powerful way. The chorus is especially like this with its intense melody that matches with the flying synths. It’s a passionate tune and one of NU’EST W’s best tracks.


Overall: This mini is a step up from the subunit’s last attempt. I feel like the fact that the majority of the songs were upbeat tunes helped things stay interesting. However, I literally only liked half of this mini. There are some fun songs, but the EDM sound is a bit overkilled here. I wish they played things up as there is a coldness in the arrangement that just doesn’t lend itslef well to certain melodies.

B

[Mini-Album] NU’EST W – W, HERE

W, HERE is the first mini-album released by NU’EST W. “Where You At” was used as the mini’s promotional track. The mini proved to be immensely successful and signified a huge jump in the group’s popularity after their stint on Produce 101.

w,here

Released: October 10, 2017
1. My Beautiful (하루만)
2. Where You At
3. Paradise
4. Good Love
5. With
6. Thankful for You (지금까지 행복했어요)

Not sure what I feel about the album starting with My Beautiful. It goes to midtempo route and frankly, it’s just not what I was looking for. I feel like the group did this style better with their digital single, “If You”, but this seems rather generic, especially considering the quality of the tracks that NU’EST did on their last mini. There are some really nice parts in the arrangement, but it just all seems a bit bare.

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While it continues the melancholic tone of the last song, Where You At is an upbeat EDM song and I’m thankful there is some power and energy here. While I really like this song, it sort of falters on the fact that it can come off as a generic Billboard tune. I like the somber quality of the verses and the explosion of the chorus is really great. I do wish the chorus was flushed out a bit more, but the piercing strings bring a lot of excitement. It’s quite a nice track in general.

Getting into the solo songs, we start off with Ren’s solo, Paradise. It pretty much continues the vibe of the last song, but changes things up for the chorus. Instead of an explosive delivery, we get a swirling mess of synths tied with some almost trap elements. It’s a weird blend and I’m not sure if I like it. Ren has a solid enough voice, but it really lacks enough power to push through the craziness of the arrangement. It’s not a super catchy track, but it isn’t bad.

Aron’s solo goes the midtempo R&B route. I wasn’t really going into this song with any expectations, but Good Love actually not bad. I like the bouncy nature of the music and it works to bring some energy to it. The chorus is a bit empty compared to the verses and I don’t really like this weak trap-like delivery. I feel like it would’ve been better to go all in instead of just skirt over it. I also wish it had a brighter quality to it because the music feels a bit heavy. It’s still a cute song.

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With is JR’s solo song and it starts off in a pretty dark way that fits with the rest of the album. This song obviously focuses on JR’s rapping, but I find it a bit weird. The chorus is quite cool and I like the rippling quality of the synths, however, we really only get to the stunning part by the second chorus. I feel like it is really trying to be this emotional track, but it falters in its delivery a bit. It’s still nice.

As expected for a solo from Baekho, we get a ballad with Thankful for You. One thing I like compared to his other solo ballads is that this isn’t a completely generic OST ballad and we get some changes in the arrangement in the first half. Unfortunately, it starts to go your usual ballad route by the second verse with the strings. I also feel like Baekho is always trying to catch his breath and it gets a bit distracting. This isn’t terrible, but I don’t feel particularly interested, especially considering he has such a dynamic voice.


Overall: This is a pretty disappointing mini, especially considering the quality of their last one. I’m really glad for the group’s success, but it’s a bit disheartening that the group went the more melancholic route with their music. The mini is quite cohesive, but I felt like it was more generic in its delivery. Most of the tracks lacked a spark for me except for the promo track, which just had a surge of power to it that helped keep things interesting.

B-

[Digital Single] NU’EST W – If You

If You is the third second digital single released by NU’EST W. It is their first original song after Minhyun’s hiatus from the group due to his participation in the project group, Wanna One.

ifyou

Released: July 25, 2017
1. If You (있다면)

Not sure if If You was what I was expecting from the group. It’s a midtempo pop/R&B piece and these kind of coffeehouse-styled songs usually aren’t my cup of tea. However, I do quite enjoy this one. It has that common laid-back vibe, but the melody is actually interesting and I like how the rap is brought in. I just wish the hook that is used in the beginning and end of the song was used more often throughout the whole song. It’s probably my favourite part of it.


Overall: This was a nice song. It wasn’t ground-breaking, but it was a nice relaxing tune and I’m not usually a big fan of these kinds of songs because they can get a bit forgettable, so this is a plus.

B+

[Mini-Album] NU’EST – CANVAS

CANVAS is the fifth mini-album released by NU’EST. Love Paint (Every Afternoon) was used as the promotional track.

canvas
Released: August 29, 2016
1. Daybreak
2. R.L.T.L (Real Love True Love) (one morning)
3. Love Paint (Every Afternoon)
4. Thank You (evening by evening)
5. Look (a starlight night)

I love how the mini-album titles cover the times throughout the day. The first song, Daybreak is a duet between Minhyun and JR. It’s a pretty laid back R&B-inspired track that works really well with Minhyun’s sweet tone. This kind of song is quite popular in Korea and while it can get a bit dull at times, I really like this song. The melody is catchy and the music suits it really well and fits the theme. It’s a nice starter.

R.L.T.L (Real Love True Love) (one morning) starts off with a piano, but starts to bring some synths and a beat in and creates a fun dance tune. My only gripe with this song is that the first chorus has nothing and only features the instrumental. I’m usually fine with this, but I feel like this song has so much more potential because the beat and music is so beautiful. It’s still a stellar tune and something I wasn’t expecting.

The promo track, Love Paint (Every Afternoon), is my favourite NU’EST song and was one of my favourites from 2016. It goes the electro-urban route and is similar to ‘Overcome’ from their last mini. It builds up slowly before exploding with a powerful beat and flying synths. It is really beautiful and I just love how everything ties in so well with each other. JR’s rap is the only part that sticks out a bit, but the rest of the song easily covers that. Charming.

Thank You (evening by evening) is a midtempo R&B tune although the R&B influences are much stronger here within the melody. I think this is a solid tune, but it’s the weakest at this point. I feel like it doesn’t have the same dreamy feel the rest of the mini has and it feels a bit generic and dull at times. The vocals are really nice though.

I was really worried the last song was going to be a slower tune, but Look (a starlight night) is another upbeat dance tune. It has a cooler vibe to it and doesn’t really burst out until the chorus, where that beat comes in and really changes things up. It’s a bit repetitive in its hooks, but there are some nice melodic parts in between. With that said, I love the feel of the song and it ties really well into the theme with its dreamier qualities.


Overall: This mini is amazing. I am really impressed. It has a really cohesive sound despite all the tracks sounding different from each other. All three of the upbeat tunes are solid and some of NU’EST’s best songs, while Daybreak is a great midtempo R&B tune. The only one I wasn’t keen on was Thank You, but it is still a decent song. I just wish the music followed by having a dreamier quality to it. Besides that, this mini is the group’s best.

A

[Mini-Album] NU’EST – Q is.

Q is. is the fourth mini-album released by NU’EST. Overcome was used as the promo song.

qis
Released: February 17, 2016
1. My Heaven (나의 천국)
2. Overcome (여왕의 기사)
3. In Fact (사실 말야)
4. Bickering (티격태격)
5. ONEKIS2

My Heaven is such a surprisingly strong starter. It has a heavy electronic dance sound and it shows a nice progression from the group’s older material. I love the music and the different synths tied with the pulsating beat really work nicely with the guys’ vocals. I do wish the chorus melody was a bit stronger, but everything does a great job of working together. Excellent!

It also ties into the promo song, Overcome. This is one of my favourite title tracks from the group because it brings that urban electropop sound, but does it in an absolutely gorgeous way. The beat is pounding and it has some striking synths on top that all make the melody feel like it just floats above it. It’s a weird contrast, but works really nicely. Baekho especially sounds amazing here.

In Fact is a midtempo pop tune. It’s the type of coffeehouse kind of pop/R&B tune that has become popular in Korea in recent years. I do like this one tries to change things up by bringing a more electronic feel to things. The song is really laid back and has a good vibe going on, although I don’t think the melody is as much of an ear worm as I would hope for. Not bad, but a bit forgettable.

Bickering does bring something a bit more refreshing with its jazzier edge. It has a similar laid back vibe to it, but brings in a fuller set of instruments that keeps the song’s energy up. I quite like the music with its touches of brass and piano. The chorus is much stronger than the last song and while the hooks aren’t as strong, it seems more complete. It works in the long run. A solid tune.

Rounding out the mini is ONEKIS2. Despite the weird name, the song is actually a ballad. I’m always a bit iffy with K-Pop ballads as they can be total hits or misses, but this one is quite nice. The gentleness of the music tied with the strong vocals really helps set the setting. Unfortunately, the song decides to keep this gentle vibe throughout and it ends up a bit dull. I wish the chorus had more energy to it as it sort of drags on by the end.


Overall: This isn’t their strongest mini-album, but it is solid. The first two songs are especially strong and I love the heavy electronic sound that the first half of the mini brings. I do wish the last three songs had a bit more energy to them and were stronger, but they were still decent tunes.

B+

[Single] NU’EST – I’m Bad

I’m Bad is the second single released by NU’EST. It was released to celebrate the group’s third year anniversary since their debut.

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Released: February 27, 2015
1. I’m Bad
2. A Scene Without You (나와 같은 차를 마시고)

I’m Bad is a laid back midtempo pop/R&B tune. It’s the kind of song that is quite popular in Korea and the type that could be played in a cafe or as background music. It has some really nice parts to it though. The chorus is especially catchy with the “I’m bad” hook, which is cleverly used. This is nicely tied in with the arrangement that has some quirks. The touches of guitar and the odd brass-like synth that cover the backdrop really help to give the music a bit of character. It’s a relaxing tune.

A Scene Without You starts off like a ballad, but it gains some steam as it progresses. Once the chorus hits, the music brings in some percussion and synths to help bring a fuller sound. I quite like it, although I wish the melody was a little more memorable. I don’t think it sticks as well as the last song despite the similarities between the two in terms of feeling.


Overall: This was a bit of a change from NU’EST as it doesn’t really have an “upbeat” song. Instead, both tunes are midtempo pop songs that would be heard in a cafe or something of this sort. These two songs are actually solid tunes, but they sort of just blend in with each other and in the grand scheme of things, don’t quite stand out in NU’EST’s discography.

B+

[Album] NU’EST – Re:BIRTH

Re:BIRTH is the first album released by NU’EST. Good Bye Bye was used as the promotional song.

rebirth
Released: July 9, 2014
1. Judgement
2. Big Deal
3. Good Bye Bye (굿 바이 바이)
4. Darkness (사랑 없는 사랑)
5. Storybook
6. Climax
7. Give Me a Shoulder (어깨빌려)
8. Face
9. Action
10. Hello (여보세요)
11. Sleep Talking (잠꼬대)

Judgement is a really weird intro. I sort of like it as it has a funky beat, but it just goes all over the place and the rap is a bit awkward sounding. It doesn’t hype things up as well as it should.

Big Deal is a solid tune though. It actually reminds me of something a little older and seems like an updated version of a boy band song from 2008 or 2009. It has a really heavy beat and blast of synths and strings to create a more dramatic sound. With that said, it does update things a bit with some dubstep popping in during the raps. My only issue is that I wish the chorus just went even more into it. I feel like the arrangement is a bit empty and just missing that one thing, which is unfortunate as the chorus delivers. It’s a cool song.

Good Bye Bye is definitely more contemporary and focuses a lot on a pulsating dance beat. I really love the verses as that beat helps to drive the song along and gives the song a bit of drama. The chorus isn’t bad, but it is a bit of a letdown. I think the melody is just a bit too predictable and while the beat is great, the melody just floats above and doesn’t hit in the same way. There are still some nice parts to it though. It is still quite catchy and the second, more melodic half of the chorus helps to deliver something a little more interesting. Decent song, but just missing something.

Darkness is really great though. I actually feel like this would have been a good follow-up to Hello. It’s more on the midtempo side, but it has a gorgeous guitar and plays well to the strengths of the members. The verses are nice and the chorus does a good job of providing a good contrast to them. It’s catchy and everything just flows so well together.

Storybook gives us something a bit more on the generic pop sound. That’s not necessarily bad as these kinds of songs can be quite nice to listen to. In this case, it is a decent B-side. I think the arrangement isn’t particularly original and reminds me of something from U.S pop in 2009~2010. I do wish the melody was a little more interesting though. It has some nice ideas, but just comes off a bit flat. Not a bad song though.

Climax has some interesting ideas, but everything comes off just a bit too messy. It has a nice piano pop sound to it with a cool blend of synths. Unfortunately, I feel like the pace of everything is just a bit too fast. If it was slowed down a bit, the song would actually sound a lot better. The chorus especially just zooms past and there is no time for the song to really sink in and the fast paced doesn’t quite match the more soaring quality of the arrangement. The weakest track on here unfortunately.

Fortunately, the laid back R&B jam, Give Me a Shoulder, pops up next. Featuring vocalist Bumzu, I love the sound of this song as it is definitely something that is popular in Korea nowadays. It has that coffee shop vibe to it, but it keeps things interesting by upping the pace of things. The two rappers in NU’EST do an excellent job of providing their own stories and implementing that into their raps. It gives the song a more personal style. The rest of the album just features their older promotional singles.

FACE and Action are decent electronic pop tunes, but they still aren’t my favourites from the group. Hello is more on the slower side and definitely one of the group’s strongest songs, whereas Sleep Talking a fun and catchy tune.


Overall: This was a pretty good album. I do think the score of it was heightened by the inclusion of the old promotional singles at the end, but the album tracks were still largely on the good side of things and there were a few that were even better than the promotional single. I do find the group to excel on the more midtempo, R&B side of things.

A