Music Review: INFINITE "New Challenge"

After several Solos and Sub Units, the complete group that is INFINITE is back! I am so excited to see them all together again, although I did really love Sunggyu's Solo Album and Infinite H's Album as well.  Those were fun, and I enjoyed hearing more from individual members of the rather large group, it's good to hear that classic Infinite sound again. Because of their past success there's a lot of pressure to continue to do well, which is why this album is properly named "New Challenge". Even though it gets harder to release something new with each album, they managed to keep it fresh this time as well.

INFINITE's 4th Mini Album New Challenge, released March 21st 2013! 

Infinite is a 7 member Male group who made their debut in 2010 under Woollim Entertainment. The group went through a lot of hardships over the years to make their music, and the CEO even made sacrifices. Through that hard work and sacrifice, they were able to become the group that they are today, and have released several hit songs. It's also the reason why their fans, Inspirits, are so dedicated to the group. The members include the Rappers Dongwoo/Jang Dong Woo (1990) and Hoya/Lee Ho Won (1991), Woohyun/Nam Woo Hyun (1991), Sungyeol/Lee Sung Yeol (1991), L/Kim Myung Soo (1992), the Leader Sunggyu/Sungkyu/Kim Sung Gyu (1989), and the Maknae Sungjong/Lee Sung Jong (1993). Even though they are a larger group, the use that to their advantage when it comes to their dances and harmonies. They have a very distinct '80s synth sound, which is really prevalent in this album. So enough about their Bio, and on to the songs!

- Welcome to Our Dream

First, is the minute long intro song to start off the album. The sound reminds me of the Secret Garden K-Drama opening, as well as music from the Legend of Zelda Franchise. (Maybe that makes sense, or maybe I'm just crazy and watch too many dramas/play too many video games.) It has a type of fantasy and children's book quality to the sound, which matches the dream theme. It also has a Ballroom Romance feeling as well, which makes me feel like I'm surrounded by men in dapper suits and women in lovely gowns. While I like this intro song very much, it doesn't match up too well with the electronic and synth sound of the rest of the album. It's a great intro for an album, don't get me wrong, and they did manage to get the ending fade out to somewhat match with the next song, but it doesn't entirely fit with the rest of the songs.

- Man in Love (남자가 사랑할때)

This is the main song for the album, which they made the Music Video for. Naturally, I have to talk about the MV for a bit first. It is super Aegyo in the same way that Super Junior's "No Other" video was, in the shy boy confessing his love kind of way. It has an adorable Kitty, different types of dates being set up, and Baking scenes. Though, I find the baking scenes a bit confusing since none of the things he uses adds up to fortune cookies.... Hmmmm. Anyways, it's all about being cute in this one, but they do still have a great dance to go along with it! You can watch the MV Here, or watch the Live Performance if you don't like the video that much.
As for the song, I personally really love it! Some people were saying that it's not up to par with The Chaser or Be Mine, but I think it still has that Infinite flavor, while being different from their past works. My favorite parts have to be the Chorus, and the Rap by Dongwoo about a minute into it. And the electric guitar right at the beginning (and also throughout the song) has the type of sound that I "play" my Air Guitar to, you know the one I'm talking about. Overall, it's saturated with synthesized instruments and a sweet theme. What's not to love?

- As Good As It Gets (이보다 좋을 순 없다.)

While the previous song was so happy, this one is a bit bitter sweet. Because things were as good as they could get, when the couple was together, but now they've broken up. Now there's a constant reminder of better times and an empty space in their heart, sad right? This song has a lot more Rap breakdowns in it, which I can appreciate. I also really like the way they ended it, with the "Over and Over" fade out, while different members sang over the chorus of the other members. While this song still has an electronic sound to it, it's toned down a bit more and focuses more on the Guitar as far as instruments go. In general, this song focuses more on the group than individual members, with several harmonies throughout it. The more I listen to it to more I can pick out the layers they put into it vocally. It's the kind of song that gets better every time you hear it.

- Still I Miss You (그리움이 닿는 곳에)

After a few more upbeat songs, this one takes it down a notch. The echoing Piano is really pretty, and also the various instruments used in it, like the string section with the Violins, and the Acoustic Guitar. It gives it a more romantic sound than the others, and made for a beautiful ballad. Even though there are so many members in the group, they were able to balance out all of the voices really well, and gave a lot of them a chance to shine. Infinite was also able to make their voices sound so emotional, to the point of being strained, while still sounding great. If you hadn't guessed, the lyrics for this are also really touching and sad. One of the most heart wrenching lines, to me, has to be, "I miss you, I'm sorry, I regret not being good enough for you. I want to take courage and tell you these things, but where are you?" To be in so much pain and not even be able to express it to the person, that alone is why this song breaks my heart.

- Beautiful 

Okay, the English for this song sounds a little bit off, but in a way that makes me smile. "Oh Baby, my love, beautiful." They repeat it several times, so I had to mention it. It doesn't make me like the song less or anything like that, in fact I may even like it more because of that (in a B1A4 kind of way). It's a little bit shorter than the other songs, and also ends pretty abruptly. Like the other songs, it initially sounds to sweet, until you realize that it's about a girl that they already broke up with. They're the only person they will love, and that they want to be with forever, but it's already over. I really like the build up that they have going on in this song, from the verses to the chorus. And also that low toned electronic beat, that sounds a bit like the one from "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin. It's not my favorite from the album, but it's still very good.

- 60 Seconds (Infinite Version) 

If you listened to Sunggyu's Solo Album at all, this song should sound familiar. It's the exact same some, except this time they had the whole group join in. It may be the same song, yet the different members add a whole new element to it and make it sound fresh. Right now I'm still debating on which version I like better, but either way they both have something different to offer. I like the Rap breakdown in this version a bit better, but I really love Sunggkyu's voice for this type of song. Plus, it's really nice to hear Infinite do something that's more influenced by Modern Rock every now and then.

- Inconvenient Truth (불편한 진실) 

This is the final song to the album, and they pulled out all the stops on the '80s synth front. Wow, they did not hold back on it at all. I was honestly taken aback the first time I heard this song. From the girl's laugh that starts it off, and I heard the same electronic horns from "The Final Countdown" by Europe. It does have the same type of Anthem quality to it as well. It's a really powerful type of song that takes you by storm, and makes you want to do something fun or crazy. It's a strong way to end the album, they chose to hype it up instead of mellow out for the ending. The extreme cheesy anthem flashbacks aside, this is exactly the kind of music that I've come to expect from Infinite.

Overall, I would say this is a great album to own. It's saturated in that '80s electronic sound, but in the Infinite way. Most of it's upbeat and good for a pick me up on the days that you need it. Sure, not everyone love such nostalgic and energetic music, but others do! I'm so happy that Infinite made their comeback, and any fans of the group probably own this album already. If not, you can buy it online at Yes Asia or Kpop Plus for around $15, and of course any other way you would like. If you've already listened to it or own it, let me know what you though of the album in the comments! I hope you're able to hear it soon and that you enjoy it as much as I did, and maybe even a bit more!

See you next time you jump down the Rabbit hole,