Album Review: Infinite – Top Seed

Release date: January 8th, 2018

Tracklist:

  1. Begin
  2. Tell Me
  3. Synchronise
  4. No More
  5. TGIF (Dongwoo Solo)
  6. 기도 (메텔의 슬픔) – Pray (Maetel’s sorrow)
  7. 왜날 (Why Me)
  8. 분다 (Wind)
  9. I Hate
  10. 지난 날 (Reminisce) (L Solo)
  11. 고백 (Love Song) (Sungjong Solo)
  12. Begin Again

Total Runtime: 00:42:47

Recommended for: Infinite fans, people who love electronic sounds, synths and love K-Rock, J-Rock or just any type of rock. People who likes slow and chill jams, ballads, and emotional tracks. People who prefer a variety of songs with different style but still with the same consistent signature sound developed by the group over the years.

Not recommended for: People who like hip hop and R&B songs and people who simply hate Infinite and don’t want to give them a chance. You’ll regret it, really!

Finally, Infinite has come back as a 6-member group after a year and 4 months to grace us with their latest music. Following a quite turbulent 2017, Infinite decided to “begin again,” opening the new year with their 3rd studio album containing songs by some emerging or foreign composers and others by some renowned composers like Sweetune. The album is a journey into Infinite’s brand new style which, despite everything, still maintains elements of their older signature sound. The LP consists of 12 tracks.

TRACK REVIEW:

1. BEGIN

A classic infinite intro, smooth, powerful, a bit jazzy in the beginning and overflowing with strings. It’s a perfect prelude to the title track.

2. TELL ME

This song may seem strange at first because it actually starts with the chorus and it has a really odd flow. The future bass instrumental starts really slow, soft, mellow and repeats itself all along the song in a circular motion and then after a while Sunggyu’s vocals explode suddenly (almost unexpectedly) in a fast pace beginning with a very smooth transition. The verse proceeds just as fast simply and effectively with a more electronic sound and amazing vocals plus Dongwoo’s rap. Despite this, I have to say both the first verse and the second one don’t seem to fit in the song. The build-up is slower with Sungjong light vocals and Woohyun’s falsetto but then it picks up the pace again in the chorus which is so catchy and so artificial, with auto-tuned voices continuing the hook with “luv, luv, lu, lu, lu, lu,” but still so powerful and natural with violin in the background.

The bridge is really sweet, slow and essential with only vocals, strings and the initial rhythm that picks up again to proceed towards Woohyun’s astounding high note and the final chorus that ends abruptly. It’s an unusual song made with a combination that could be considered weird because who would sing a song in a fast-paced way when the instrumental is slow, moody and just sad like you’d expect to find in a typical ballad? We can’t really say this is ballad but it’s a chill song powerful enough to also have dance vibes. And it’s like here, the modern future bass sound has merged with the typical Infinite signature sound. I’d say it was quite experimental.

3. SYNCHRONISE

“Synchronise” is a song that mashes up rock-ish and electronic elements very well. The title is obviously very reminiscent of Infinite’s own story and life. It starts with alluring guitar work and percussion that immediately bring us into a warm atmosphere. The first verse is very quiet, maybe also thanks to Myungsoo’s sweet vocals, but it’s very rhythmic too with almost a hopeful tone. The build-up is probably the most impressive part because the vocals are so good and the music becomes so heavy and so full of layers. It’s like the previous hopeful tone reaches its peak to escalate in a beautiful chorus that is similar to a joyful march – electronic and full of percussion. The final part has more guitar in the background, which is as usual my weakness.

4. NO MORE

Piano opens this song suavely and sadly. It’s really slow and sorrowful and Woohyun’s heartfelt vocals from the start make it the perfect ballad, almost solemn. It picks up rhythm with Sunggyu’s and Myungsoo’s verses until we get to the chorus which is surprisingly brighter, hopeful even, a flawless combination of orchestral instrumental and pure high vocals. The “No no no no more” part is also very catchy. Myungsoo’s voice sounds incredible in the next verse and his falsetto is to die for. Dongwoo’s rap then makes the song more intense and it all seems to flow together very well. It’s a dreamy track, for sure, and one of my favourites.

5. TGIF (DONGWOO SOLO)

This song fits Dongwoo’s personal style perfectly. It’s an upbeat alternative R&B track which begins with piano and then continues with a sick beat. It makes you want to really dance in a party honestly. Dongwoo’s warm but sexy voice is totally ideal for this kind of music. The chorus is bold and catchy with Dongwoo’s higher register. The song is also very sensual, sophisticated and in the second part with the rap we see how this is also very close to the hip-hop genre. The second part of the bridge becomes slower and full of electronic effects and Dongwoo’s falsetto which brings us towards the final chorus.

6. PRAY (MAETEL’S SORROW)

THIS SONG! OH MY GOD! I’M IN HEAVEN *clears throat* I don’t know if I can do a proper read unbiased review of this song. I’m sorry I’m just so in love with this track I don’t even have the words to describe it. It’s just heaven for me. It’s so unique but still so Infinite. It starts with my 3 of my favourite things in the world: piano, violin string and electric guitar, in a melody that makes me think of an OST for some dramatic Hollywood movie… or a historical drama…. or just a movie about… tango. Can it possibly get better? Yeah, it can. The initial instrumental abruptly stops and then comes Dongwoo’s deep voice with another kind of instrumental, more rhythmic and quite fast that now makes me imagine a detective story or an investigation scene or again a passionate TANGO.

The chorus is an astounding ensemble of strings, guitar and vocals and the violin that follows after is something ethereal, something that seems just straight out of heaven. Woohyun and Sunggyu’s vocals are so powerful, aggressive and desperate in the chorus. Myungsoo’s voice in the second build-up is so melodious and endearing, just like Sungjong’s is soft and gentle. Towards the end of the second chorus the music plus Sunggyu’s commanding vocals reach the epicness and there’s an echo to it to the point that it seems like a kind of final judgement pronounced by God with an air of great authority (I don’t even know where I get these similes nor why I suddenly got this image).

The rap probably would seem unnecessary but even in such a passionate and powerful song, it goes well with its sad tone. The little trills that Woohyun does in the background makes it even better. The last part of the song with two choruses is just stormy, dramatic, passionate and intense, angry, fierce, turbulent and tormented (I’ve finished the adjectives, I think) nothing I’ve ever heard before in K-Pop and it ends in a liberatory final. It’s peculiar that this song was composed in 2011 and it’s been hidden since then. Why hide such a masterpiece? And also the title is curious because it refers to the character Maetel in a manga/anime called Galaxy Express 999.

7. WHY ME

The track begins very simple with piano and Sunggyu’s warm vocals, then strings are added. Sungyeol’s low register after it is quite impressive and as the song progresses towards the chorus, I realize that it sounds like a K-Drama OST, a heartfelt and pure ballad probably perfect for a sad love scene. The vocals here much more emphasized than the instrumental and it’s really obvious how much they improved as a group. The bridge with the Woohyun-Sunggyu duet is stunning  and it ends with Sunggyu’s high note and Myungsoo’s sweet vocals. The last part is much more passionate and soulful but it ends with feeble instrumentals and Woohyun’s calm and tenuous voice.

8. WIND

Another bomb track here. It opens with the sound of wind, a whistle and acoustic guitar, almost making me remember those lazy, carefree summer days. I thought it was a bit odd to have this kind of happy-go-lucky, summery song in this time of the year, but I hadn’t listened to the rest yet. After the prelude, suddenly an energetic heavy guitar riff picks up rhythm accompanied by electronic sounds, waking me up from my induced summer-memories slumber. It sounds most definitely like K-Rock. The verses are slower in the singing but still bubbly. The chorus is all synths and it makes me remember old K-Pop for some reason, plus it’s incredibly uplifting with again, at the end, the vibrant guitar riff. The 8-bit game-like sound is just so interesting and it makes the song even more playful and unique. In the second verse, there’s an added violin instrumental and a more orchestral sound. Until we get again to the electronic and rock-ish chorus. The bridge is more calm but it leads to an explosion with Sunggyu’s high note and an ebullient final chorus that ends abruptly with a ticking clock sound.

9. I HATE

For a time, I doubted myself here. Did I suddenly switch albums and was now listening to heavy metal? To J-Rock? Was this an anime OST?  Because the start of this song is something else entirely. It’s both the two genres together plus K-Rock. It’s definitely a must-listen. Sunggyu’s voice is just so perfect for rock and I was also surprised on how much other members’ soft voices like Myungsoo, Sungjong and Sungyeol fit so well for this kind of genre. The song is, from the beginning, an angry appeal or more a rant sung in a very aggressive and powerful way. A vigorous but dynamic track. The chorus is more upbeat and catchy but still full rock. Dongwoo’s voice is intense and perfect even in the rap and Woohyun in the bridge sounded like a growl singer with his high note. Such an unexpected change for them.

10. REMINISCE (L SOLO)

Another song that makes me think of a drama OST. Myungsoo’s voice is perfect for this style and it’s very controlled, modulated and smooth from the start to the end, in his falsetto and high notes (that gave me some chills too). The song is, of course, very ballad-ish and soulful. The chorus is something ethereal and delightful with piano, violins strings and Myungsoo’s falsetto. The bridge is much more intense and vigorous, also thanks to Myungsoo’s lower register and the layered orchestral instrumental which make this part very full. The following soft piano builds again, little by little, to a crescendo of sensations and emotions. The song ends with a little sad but hopeful piano.

11. LOVE SONG (SUNGJONG SOLO)

This is a very fresh track, with a joyful melody and a jazzy feel since the beginning. Sungjong has such a soft voice that adapts very well to the upbeat melody. It starts with a light acoustic guitar and piano, but the trumpets become the main instrument in the chorus which is very light-hearted and cute with Sungjong’s “La la la.” It’s a nice change from the other songs on the album. The second verse is almost bare of instrumentals, at least at first, then it picks up pace becoming vibrant and more vivacious.

12. BEGIN AGAIN

This song is very similar to “Synchronise” and “Wind” so it’s a bit repetitive for me but it still has that brightness and positive feel which makes it quite enjoyable to listen to. The start is really summery; Myungsoo and Sungyeol’s voices fit very well here. The chorus is uplifting and oddly reminiscent of old K-Pop in some way. The members’ harmonization here is just perfect. There’s also a kind of whistle that is always in the background of the song which is a nice effect.

Review overview
Summary This is arguably their best full album since debut. No filler tracks, no messy songs, a well-developed style and sound. Even if I like some songs more than others and some things on the title track could have been changed or done better, none of them can be deemed as bad or unlistenable. All are of them are surely enjoyable and replayable again and again.
5
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black_miri
Oh!Press Japanese Translator and Young Scribe~

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