There’s been a lot of great albums released so far in 2022, but I decided to give Pentagon the honour of getting the first album review here. One is because of bias (I couldn’t resist!). And two: because I need to highlight the b-sides that better represent the group’s strengths than the title track thanks to having more creative control.
Feelin’ Like (Title track) – Read my review here
While not as prolific as some of the other Pentagon members as Shinwon has taken part in a very small number of tracks—Just do it yo, Genius, and WTH—the prospect of him playing a bigger role in crafting music is exciting that I’m hoping to see more of in the future.
They tease your ears from the get-go with Wooseok‘s soft rhetorical line “are you ready” along with the members’ whispering before throwing you down into an exhilarating guitar riff. Through the verses, there’s a pulsing percussion that steadies the energy as well as building up for the following choruses which I appreciate. The two-part chorus is such a fascinating contrast. At first I was a bit put off by the return of the hushed intro before the catharsis of guitars hit your ears hard but repeated listens prove to make it work.
The guys could have repeated the previous choruses (which were great already), but instead they combined all the components from the two-parts for one last fiery finale. In just three minutes, we get “one shot” of hype that hits hard.
Experimental The Game is proof of my love for Pentagon’s musical creativity.
First, Jinho popping off with his vocals in an opera fashion? What a start (and further proof on why he’s one of my favourite vocalists)! And I just love how the song takes advantage of the group’s strengths and contextualises it in entertaining ways. The alternation between Wooseok’s rapping and vocalist’ operatic moments. The playful intonation and pause of silence at Kino‘s part (i.e. 1:16). Strings to create tension in the prechorus along with the chanting “run like a devil”… Oh, you can tell these guys had loads of fun making this song.
The Game doesn’t stay still in one sound. Instead, it draws inspiration from instruments associated with various genres and entwine them into its own piece. It’s hard to label what kind of song this is. It’s not groovy like the basslines in the verses suggest nor is it another different genre with the glitchy instrumental drop in the chorus (i.e. 1:01).
All I can describe The Game is that it’s cheesy and fun packaged in the most unique way possible.
Call My Name
Feelin’ Like and Call My Name are the same yet different.
They’re both groovy tracks. But what Call My Name does well that the title track doesn’t is building on the strengths of the artist’s expertise with engaging hooks and knowing how to drive the track’s rhythm. There’s a great emphasis on the groovy ambience as there are peaks in energy and switching different sounds, all of which that aid each of the Pentagon members bounce along to the tempo. The instrumental in Call My Name keeps you on your toes. That’s something Feelin’ Like failed at.
Additions of musical components such as adlibs, echoing certain lines, guitar riffs and pianos on top of the main foundation (in this case, groove) can really make a huge difference! Come on, Cube. Have a bit more faith in your artists.
Also, thanks to Nick from The Bias List and his review on Call My Name, I found out that the “hey ya hey ya” in this Pentagon b-side alludes to Blackstreet’s No Diggity.
If I had to list my three favourite sounds, synths will be one of them. You can do so much with an instrument like that in various ways, one of it being the perfect set-up in shaping a dreamy atmosphere.
I love how the synths are still present throughout the track, especially in the verses when often times music would wind down a lot(!) to make the chorus memorable. Each member sounds great here: the rappers, the “star-da-da-da”, the occasional adlibs or vocal layering echoing certain words (i.e. 0:28, 0:39). Sparkling Night is pretty straightforward, that I will admit. But with all those aforementioned components it just seems like the stars are aligned to make this song nostalgically pleasant as a gift for a synth lover like myself.
It’s not as experimental or lively, but that’s ok. We’re already close to the end of IN:VITE U and Sparkling Night seems like the perfect break to all that excitement the predecessors have been dancing about.
In typical fashion, the final track takes a much more simple and sentimental route. While not a ballad, BAD steps away from the complexity of music production and instead takes an opportunity to remind listeners of the artists’ large array of vocal tones. There’s a light step thanks to the acoustic strumming that emphasises the simple beauty of their vocals while still, within a tender restriction, keep the mood cheery. The rapping fits in the song just fine too to keep BAD as lighthearted as it can be.
Admittedly this kind of song is one I probably won’t reach out quickly by Pentagon if I ever need to weigh my heart heavy but it’s definitely not a “bad” song. Far from it! For what it’s worth, it will fit nicely in my K-pop b-side playlist.
If I had to rank all the tracks in this comeback from my favourite to least favourite, it would probably go along like this from left to right:
One Shot, Call My Name, The Game, Sparkling Night, Feelin’ Like, BAD
Aside from the title track (no thoughts on Feelin’ Like has changed since its release), many of the b-sides have proven to be some of the group’s most exciting works in a while. IN:VITE U is definitely ranked high along with Genie:us as my all-time favourite minis by them.
I’m happy to see the members continuing to take charge in creating their songs, even if it’s just the b-sides. Now I can only hope Cube can give some of the members a chance to lead the production of the title track (again) in the future!
Header Image Source: Official Pentagon Twitter