A little background on Tablo for those who don't know - he's a part of the legendary Korean rap group Epik High and he's not only fluent in English, but he finished in Stanford. And he's a rapper. Cool, huh? So apparently his group, Epik High, have a management company, and the first major boyband to debut under that company is Infinite. I'm not sure if Tablo had a big influence on them, but I like to think that he did.
I like Infinity, they've got style. Not fashion-wise since I'm not really an authority on that, but music-wise. This EP has a few generic-sounding songs, but if they were too different or had too much style, I don't think they'd sell.
One thing I have to really stress though is the fact that this is a very cohesive EP - like I said they have style, and the cohesion just reinforces the fact that they're very sure of that style. It's as if they took the "basics" of a debut EP and turned it into an Infinity EP - the got one of the good things about Western pop, and applied it to a Korean sound. For not only a new boyband but for a Korean one, I'm impressed.
I'll skip the intro track, since it's like 50 seconds, and go straight to the lead single.
I watched the video for 다시 돌아와 before I heard the song in better quality, and there were times when I really thought I was watching U-Kiss. There are elements in the song, and even in their image, that really remind me of U-Kiss, but after a few listens you realize that they're different. U-Kiss have developed a certain sound now, and Infinite have their own.
If I were to describe the song in one word, I'd say it has character. It's a pop song, but it's not necessarily generic nor is it boring. The electric guitar riff at the beginning, the trumpets, what I believe is a melody in a minor key (correct me if I'm wrong), the snappy backbeat and the rap mixed with a very tight image and performance make for possibly the best rookie boyband I've ever seen. They're sure of what they are musically, unlike a lot of other Korean boybands nowadays. And they have Paul's approval!
Of course they'd be brilliant - this is Tablo's boyband we're talking about, and Tablo is a musician. He's not just a rapper, nor is he a stupid capitalist, he's a musician.
The song isn't without it's flaws though. When I first heard the middle 8 it sounded a bit off compared to the rest of the song, but it's slowly making sense. I'm not 100% convinced yet, but they're just starting out so I'll cut them some slack. I'm also a bit worried about how they'll do live - before I jump to conclusions and call them the best rookie boyband ever, I have to hear them live. Their vocals sound competent on the recording - they're not all brilliant, but I hear potential. They could either sound like After School who've only began to sound decent, or fantastic like singers like DBSK - that's very important.
The rest of the EP is a rather nice mix of different tempos and "feels" - to say I'm not impressed would be an injustice.
I love She's Back - the Euro sound with the electric guitars, chords and all the techno elements running around mix really well with the melody, although they kinda remind me of BEAST on this one. There are instances where the melody gets overpowered by the instrumental though. I still like the melody - their vocals sound good, and the synths make the song for me.
Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE string sections? Oh yeah, I have. I LOVE STRING SECTIONS. 날개 has a Tri-Angle feel to it, but the chorus changes everything - I have no other way of describing it except that it sounds like an Infinity song. The middle 8 is gorgeous, it totally makes up for the sub-par middle 8 of the lead single. There are good singers in the band, but I'll just have to pinpoint and watch them as they go along - there's no solid way of telling whether they really are good or not unless I hear them live.
In comes the first and only ballad of the EP, 붙박이 별 - I died. It sounds so Korean - like those stuff I used to listen to when I was building my kpop library. The chorus is pretty, the middle 8 matches the song really well, but the verses are just stunning. Their vocals are so-so, which makes me a little wary of what's gonna happen to them when they start live promo, but I won't judge until I actually see them on stage.
맡겨 sounded really cheap at the beginning, like some late 90's American boyband-sung party anthem circa-Hey Micky (not Hey Micky though), but the verses are surprisingly decent and the chorus is too happy to not notice. Sounds really 90's boyband, I like.
Music-wise Infinity are really lightyears ahead of other new boybands and even some established ones, we'll just see if their talent does justice to their music. Not sure when they're starting live promo, but I hope it's this Friday! Someone enlighten me?