In 2020, following the finale of the K-pop survival show “I-Land”, Enhypen burst onto the Kpop scene and found almost instant success internationally, earning the title of “Monster Rookies” from the media. But a lot has changed in the three years since the group’s debut. With four EPs, a full length album, multiple Japanese releases and a sold-out world tour under their belt, Enhypen are no longer newbies finding their sound, but seasoned industry veterans. The group’s fifth mini album, “Orange Blood”, is a testament to this evolution – showcasing a newfound confidence as the group abandons its dark image to embrace a bright and bubbly sound in the seven-track EP.
With the release of “Orange Blood” cleverly sandwiched between the American and Asian legs of their second world tour “Fate”, Enhypen prepared a whirlwind schedule for the next two months to promote the EP’s title track – “Sweet Venom”. Have done. The group is banking on the song’s success, with dozens of performances on South Korean music shows, year-end awards shows, and even an appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“Sweet Venom” is an upbeat nu-disco track that embraces a bright, danceable sound, derived from other groups’ earlier Kpop releases, new for Nhipen which traditionally plays a darker, more associated with a sultry soundscape. The accompanying choreography takes cues from Michael Jackson’s style, following in the footsteps of recent Kpop releases including Jungkook’s “Standing Next to You” and Tomorrow X Together and Anita’s “Back for More”. While the song struggles to differentiate itself from every other Kpop release, it is an absolutely enjoyable listening experience especially with the groovy bass line that makes listeners want to dance along to the chorus’ sweet repetition of “Sweet-a-Eat”. But will force. , ‘ee-ee-ee-eet” gets stuck in their minds.
The album includes three different versions of “Sweet Venom”, including a full-English rendition and a remix featuring TikToker-turned-musician Bella Poarch. While English versions of title tracks are extremely common among K-pop releases, they rarely add much to the song and perform significantly less than the original versions even when considering streams in English-speaking countries. However, the English version of “Sweet Venom” really improves the listening experience. Although it is unclear if the changes were intentional, the vocals on each verse are less processed and retain more rigor and grit in their delivery, helping to reduce the flatness and overprocessing heard in the Korean language version. . It’s a subtle but important change that adds much-needed depth to the track that helps set the song apart from other Kpop groups and gives it a more unique character that uniquely belongs to Enhypen. On the remix, featuring Bella Poarch, neither dazzles nor hurts.
The mini album’s third track – “Still Monster” – continues Enhypen’s impressive record of B-side successes, known for surprise B-side hits such as “Border: Carnival”, “Fever” and “Dimension: Answer”. Are. ” ,” and “Polaroid Love.” While “Sweet Venom” reflects the trends and ups and downs of contemporary K-pop, “Still Monster” is a refreshing deviation from the groovy disco and aggressive noise music that has dominated male K-pop releases over the past year. The pop ballad presents the thematic darkness of May’s “Dark Blood”, bringing a brighter perspective on these topics as the members playfully swing between singing “Still a Monster” and “I’m Not a Monster” and a lover. They beg to save them. my self. This relaxing track exudes nostalgia based on the newfound confidence and sensuality displayed by Enhypen throughout the project.
“Blind” is the track that feels most at home among Enhypen’s previous discography. Beginning with a climactic build up over dueling synth and percussion lines before the initial beat drops, the song brings complexity and grandeur, with particularly impressive vocals. Lee Hsiang remains the most impressive vocalist among the septet and his talent especially shines on this track. Yet, “Blind” also makes room to showcase the other six members, doing so in a way that retains each singer’s unique vocals and delivery. The blistering, throwback production throughout the song wouldn’t be out of place on a 2010 album like Justin Bieber’s “Believe,” yet doesn’t feel dated when heard through 2023 ears. Despite being the longest of the album’s four full-length tracks, at three minutes and eighteen seconds it still leaves listeners wanting more as the final riser comes to end the song.
Rounding out the new release before two alternate versions of “Sweet Venom,” “Orange Flower (You Complete Me)” is a worthy finale, ending the album on a bright note. The upbeat soft pop track contrasts the tension of “Still Monster” and “Blind” with a shamelessly joyful proclamation of hope for a budding romance.
The biggest failing of “Orange Blood” across the board is the disappointing lack of lyrical or emotional depth behind each song. K-pop singles, especially singles from groups like Enhyepan, who have had more success overseas than in South Korea, often rely on non-literal vowels such as “la” and “na” in their lyrics because these sounds They are beyond language and can be sung easily. by audiences around the world. However, even the desire for worldwide appeal cannot forgive the half-hearted generalizations and metaphors used throughout the album to allude to love, lust, and seduction. “Sweet Venom” and “Still Monster” are particularly serious offenders including “Sweet-ee-ee-eat, ee-ee-ee-eat” and “Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-“. Is repeated. Na” appears to take up half of each song’s runtime.
However, Enhypen continues to set himself apart from his peers by consistently delivering diverse and enjoyable songs throughout the project. The group is at its best when transcending the trends of the oversaturated K-pop market and although “Sweet Venom” falls victim to these pitfalls, the project’s B-sides solidify Enhypen as a unique player in an otherwise dull field. Continue to do. While “Orange Blood” doesn’t reach the heights of Enhypen’s previous projects, it shows clear growth from the now experienced group and leaves hope for further experimentation in the future.
-Staff writer Jane A. Hughes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find her on X, formerly known as Twitter, @Jenhughes_.