INFINITE – ‘New Challenge’ album review: So in love

After a very busy 2011, which truly paid off for the boys, 2012 only saw one album release from INFINITE as a group. Busy as they were with other promotions, the end of last year saw member Sungyyu go solo with an impressive mini-album (“60 Seconds” and “Shine” were both brilliant songs!). Early 2013 saw Infinite H release a rap album (which I was quite disinterested in).

Being my favourite K-pop boyband, INFINITE’s comebacks are very high on my radar. I was pleased to know they continue to work with Sweetune, the producers responsible for every hit song of INFINITE since debut, and eagerly awaited to hear “Man in Love”.

Infinite new challenge promo group shotHere’s a track-by-track review:

01. “Welcome to Our Dream (Intro)” – This sounds like the music you hear in some Japanese RPG.

02. “Man in Love”

Sweetune are now in the same league as Brave Brothers in the world of K-pop production. Hit after hit, their popularity grows and the producers are at the call of every entertainment company seeking a potential hit song for their respective groups. And I bring this up because Sweetune’s productions have been sounding fairly uninspired off-late. They sound good, but not fresh. Too many projects means too many similar sounding productions. But like all major producers, they keep their best songs for the top few groups and pass on the leftovers to up-and-coming ones who just can’t cough up the money for the best the producers have to offer.

“Man in Love” sounds fresh, and yet, still maintains every element that makes a Sweetune song unique. Synth beats, 1980s-inspired keyboard hooks and the strums of guitar that are omnipresent in every Sweetune production for INFINITE. The song’s verses are evenly distributed and every member gets their chance to shine. The structure tries to be different but as with many Sweetune songs, the final chorus is sung in a higher pitch until end.

As good as the song is, the MV is just alright. Girls would appreciate it more, I guess. I’m a 31-year-old dude. But the one thing INFINITE has always impressed me with is their dancing, which is as in-sync as ever. That said, other than a few moves, “Man in Love”‘s choreography doesn’t feel as special as their earlier routines.

None the less, I’m in love with their comeback song and it will do the necessary wonders on the Korean charts. – 4/5

03. “As Good As It Gets” – Thumping beats for what sounds like a sped-up Christmas song. It keeps the tempo going soon after “Man in Love” and I found myself instantly clicking replay – which meant I liked the song upon first listen itself. – 3/5

04. “Still I Miss You” – Okay, time to slow things down. A mid-tempo ballad to remind us how great INFINITE’s vocalists are. – 3/5

05. “Beautiful” – Member Woohyun’s first composed song! It’s a nice trend I’m observing off-late. More and more K-pop idols are attempting to write and compose their own songs. Even though this track is album-filler material, it’s still a commendable attempt. – 2/5

06. “60 seconds” – This a group version of Sungyyu’s solo track. I don’t know, as much as the other boys do justice to their lines, I’m just used to Sungyyu carrying this song from start to finish. But considering how much I like this song as it is, it still gets a 3/5.

07. “Inconvenient Truth” – This is so ’80s! 🙂 Oddly enough, the lyrics are causing quite a stir among INFINITE’s fans. Apparently it’s a song about how a guy doesn’t appreciate his girl wearing super short skirts and the attention she gets from the other boys. Sexist or possessive as it sounds, interpret it as you wish. It’s just an okay song. – 2.5/5

Infinite Man in Love screens members

INFINITE are now one of the top idol groups in South Korea — which they deserve to be. But sometimes I wonder when we’ll get to hear their signature song. Like what “Sorry, Sorry” is to Super Junior or “Lucifer” is to SHINee. “Be Mine” was their breakthrough single but I don’t consider it a ‘signature’ classic as INFINITE has produced many songs that were just as good as that.

Not that a signature song really matters, because in INFINITE’s case, “The Chaser” and “Man in Love” seem to be in the same vein as “Be Mine”. Overall, ‘New Challenge’ – their 4th mini-album – is an alright collection of songs with no real stand outs other than the lead single. And that’s nothing new in K-pop.

My final rating for INFINITE – ‘New Challenge’: 3 out of 5 (Good)

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