This album was their second outing after coming out with their stellar debut album that shocked many and brought them a lot of fans, after this second album, they got so popular they even had a world tour, this in itself shocked them as well as they weren’t expecting such a thing anytime soon. I myself got to see them cause of it!
The amount of times I’ve gone through this whole album, I really think it deserves a proper review after all this time. One thing to keep in mind, I’ve also heard these songs live, so that might change my ratings or views a bit cause it really is different from just seeing a MV or hearing the audio.
Even though I’m an Atiny I hope to judge this as objectively as I can.
01. “Hala Hala (Hearts Awaken, Live Alive)”
If anything, Hala Hala is a unique song, well-structured and balanced between chaos and harmony even if it delves into both throughout, from the slow start that tricks the listener to the absolutely hectic conclusion.
When the beat drops and the deep bass starts to hit, the song gives off a dark type of sound, adding to that is the second drop with the deep voice. Although it was jarring upon the first listen, it feels a lot more fitting now.
A flaw I have to bring attention to is the shouting in parts of the song where the melody is quite soft, which distracts from the feel of the song at those times. Some of the slow rapping feels displaced as well.
The headbang-worthy ending is a nice way to finish the song instead of simply repeating the chorus as is.
02. “Say My Name”
The synthesized flute is a really unique way to start a song off with as it isn’t used often and gives off a very tropical sound. This theme continues when the crescendo starts, everything gets that pirate-esque vibe, and the alarm-like sounds in the background also carries it well, really meshes well.
The moment of the drop itself is so well made with how the music stops for a split second and the chorus is literally dominated by the rappers. The melody in the chorus switches around which pulls you out of the song just a bit, it still ends up sounding really nice with how the deep bass and Mingis voice come together. It also has just enough variety every time it comes around.
A very nice thing in this song is that the vocalists and rappers compliment each other very nicely mostly in the bridge and the pre-choruses.
One particularly prominent problem is the ad-libing in this song, the ad-libs aren’t the best and are often misplaced and with so many of them they take out a lot of what the song could be without them or with different ones.
Slowing down after the second chorus was a really nice choice, just the voices and the piano greatly enhance what follows with how soft and easy it is on the ears. The dance break that follows with Mingis auto-tuned voice repeating and Hongjoong more or less singing, finishes the song better than just another chorus would similarly to Hala Hala, definitely meant to be a highlight and it really is.
If you only listened to this once you’d think it’s just a very sluggish song with not much to show in it. Some things do come to the surface as you listen more tho. The melody itself even though it seems slow (and can feel dragged out at times) doesn’t actually follow a single line, it’s constantly shifting and keeping your ears busy which is what gives it a giant + in my book, a rare thing really.
The chorus itself isn’t the actual focus point of the song, it’s the bridges as most of the highlights happen in between. The first bridge is accentuated with slower but heavier rapping and a transition from Mingi rapping to Hongjoong rap/singing to Jungho singing which is very smooth.
The second bridge is one of the best build-ups I’ve heard, with Hongjoong doing a brilliant job delivering the intensity of “Desire” alongside Junho’s singing and then Mingi’s deep “I love my desire” really sets the tone perfectly. Really a different song altogether.
Probably one of their least special songs, it doesn’t have anything distinct I can highlight. It’s a very poor song musically when I look at it as a whole, the melody is quite uninteresting, it’s not bad, but it’s definitely nothing worth talking about.
The rapping is a slugfest, the singing is alright but the flow and melody of the song are so low-tempo it’s somewhat a bore to listen to. It doesn’t change it’s tempo at all during the whole song and well neither does anything else…
It’s supposed to be a sort of chill type of song but as chill as it is, it might just be too chill, to the point of boring. I will also say that it’s a song for the fans, which I understand, sentimental value, but I’m just rating it musically in this case.
And here we have my favorite song of the year, time to entirely dissect it!
“Promise” balances out a lot of things that might otherwise be very chaotic if it was overproduced, as is, the melody slowly shifts constantly, from very soft sounds to the electro-heavy chorus, and it does this a couple of times while also finishing it up with a very musically intricate “final act” where the voices and the melody have to align perfectly for it to sound nice. They pull this off successfully without taking you out of the song and/or over- stimulating your ears.
Another thing to note is how well the ad-libs are integrated within the chorus as well as the pre-chorus. In most songs (‘Say my name’ included) ad-libbing ends up either terrible or just plain annoying to hear, here it’s added in such a manner to not tamper with the flow of the song but add another layer to it all, a very signature thing with Ateez from their other songs ‘The hype-ing’.
I also can’t overstate their comfort zone singing, each of them is inside their preferred vocal range except Jungho at the very end with the high-note, and even that isn’t shouted but is actually delivered nicely. And San’s “You and I Promise” sounds beautiful as it’s sang with both emotion and grit. The rapping is also quite solid, in a song so differently balanced they managed to incorporate their raps very nicely especially Mingi in the last bridge.
The last thing I’d like to mention is the melody and EDM itself, it has a very mellow feel to it and yet in the chorus it’s upgraded with a constant thumping beat that instantly etches itself into your brain, a simple yet effective brain-worm type of song. And even though it’s EDM it still sounds very… delightful, cheerful and pleasant throughout without being aggressive, I’ll attribute that to it being Tropical House rather than a different genre.
All in all this would definitely be one of my favorite albums to listen to, with all but 1 song being something I’d regularly listen to and each being different from the other and even tho some of the freshness is gone, it’s still quite the album!