Jul 29, 2015

Infinite Shares A Piece Of Their Brilliant "Reality"

Infinite - Reality

Oh, Infinite. How I've missed you. Although they've had a few misses here and there, Infinite's discography consists mainly of hits and for that I'm forever grateful. Last year's "Season 2" was a solid effort, but it didn't manage in winning me over completely. Too many of the songs felt regressive rather than progressive, and overall I felt like they could have done better. When I first listened to their new mini album "Reality" I was giddy with excitement over how good it was and I thought to myself: "I was right, they could do much better".

Reality consists of seven newly composed and recorded tracks, one of them being the intro which is called "Betting". I hadn't really thought of it before but Infinite is truly becoming the masters of creating flawless intros to their albums. At least with their most recent releases I've been seriously impressed by the intros in particular, because those can either be very useful to an album or completely useless. "Betting" is an intro you'd want to listen to before getting on with the rest of the mini, as it builds great tension and expectation and leads onto the following track perfectly.

Infinite - Reality
That following track is of course the title for this round of promotions, and it's called "Bad". I'm pretty obsessed with it, to be honest, and let me explain to you why. Or at least try to express with my limited vocabulary. Infinite has tried out a variety of genres over the years, but they've still managed to keep a pretty solid sound that has transcended through all of their releases. They tend to often mix different musical styles and blend them into one, making use both of synths and electronic devices as well as regular instruments and orchestral ones. "Bad" sounds vastly different from their usual style, and picks up where Infinite left off after their follow-up promotions with "Back", which briefly explored this new genre. It's the same producer behind this song, Rphabet, who also composed "Destiny". Infinite has worked a lot more with Sweetune in the past, but it seems that they are now moving onto a new territory, which I think is just about right.

Infinite - Reality"Bad" is one of Infinite's most electronically influenced songs to date, as it includes practically no regular instruments at all but instead is based almost entirely on computer-made beats and effects. However, they've still managed to keep one of Infinite's many trademarks, the string instruments, which also helps give the track an even more dramatic impact. Musically the song is brilliant, and I would love for an instrumental version to be released as well.

What's special about it is, apart from the incredibly even line distribution, powerful vocal performances by the members and the dark yet deeply interesting lyrics is the fact that the structure is different from a regular pop song. Like with "Back" and "Destiny" Rphabet doesn't really rely on the standard formula for how a song's structure is supposed to be, but instead puts his own twist on it. The chorus in "Bad" hits you like a rock when you first hear it because it's both unexpected and unique, but it turns out to be one of the song's best attributes. As you can tell I could write essays about this song because it's incredibly complex for being a K-pop track, but I have to stop somewhere before this post gets way too long. I think my point has been made clear though; this track rocks.

Infinite - Reality
Following the intensive first minutes of the album the mood lightens up slightly with "Moonlight", which is one of my favorites off the album. As it opens I'm getting some serious SHINee vibes with the whimsical intro of the song, but when the trumpets kick in you know it's Infinite you're getting. This song has the qualities I spoke of earlier: the mixture between classical instruments such as various horns and funky-sounding guitars, and synthesizers. In fact, this song is very representative of Infinite's general sounds as we've come to know it.

After listening to it a few times I realized it sounds very similar to "Shower" from their latest album "Season 2", as it's built almost on the exact same musical style and formula and has a similar-sounding melody as well. I loved "Shower" so I'm really into this track as well, but obviously it's not as great. I do, however, applaud the members vocals and rap though, and once again the line distribution is amazingly even. I also love that Hoya and Dongwoo get to sing as much as they do, especially Dongwoo gets to show off some serious vocal improvements. But they all sound amazing, really.

"Footsteps" is next up, and it does sound very reminiscent to some of Infinite's earlier tracks as well. It's much calmer and slower than the songs prior to it, which were much more energetic and fast-paced, but not to much that I would call it a mid-tempo ballad, even. It falls somewhere in between, and is best described as a smooth, R&B-inspired song. But it's not really R&B either, which makes it very confusing to label.

The sound itself however is quite relaxing, and all the members do their respective parts with grace. My main problem with this track though is that even after listening to it several times I can't really make out any type of structure. Sure, there are some parts that are being repeated but I don't really hear a specific chorus anywhere and it makes it hard for me truly get into it. It's a nice song overall, but it doesn't leave a very strong impression on me, unfortunately.

A definite highlight on the mini is the following song "Between Me And You", which also has a sound that instantly reminds of another song of theirs. This time it's "Memories", which was a pretty good b-side on "Season 2" that gets a sibling. "Between Me And You" is, however, much, much better. It starts off quietly but grows as more instruments are added to the background music, and then it explodes into the chorus.

This kind of soft pop-rock sound is also one that Infinite masters wonderfully, and this song one in particular is very addictive. The melody is beautiful, the chorus is very strong and uplifting and overall you just feel like soaring when you hear it. That's honestly the best way I can describe the way it makes me feel, at least. Sunggyu's voice in particular fits this track perfectly, but that's not really a surprise. His vocals practically carry the song, and the final chorus especially allows him to truly excel. I love that he gets to show off this chops, but on the other hand I do feel a bit sorry for Woohyun, who is just as good of a vocalist but gets way fewer lines.

"Love Letter" is, unlike the musical mystery that was "Footsteps" what I would categorize as a mid-tempo ballad. Infinite has done way more dramatic and OST-sounding ballads in the past, but I'm not a huge fan of those and I find that they suit this type of ballad much better. Still, these kind of songs can truly be a hit or miss for me, so I'm always very skeptical going into them. "Love Letter" is actually not as boring of a song as it could have been, and I was definitely pleasantly surprised by how good it came out to be. The lyrics are sweet and romantic yet earnest, the vocals are great as usual and the melody does have a distinct hook that grabs onto you. For being a pretty standard ballad, it's absolutely way above average.

The album finishes off with "Take Care Of The Ending", which also is a pretty spectacular song. I'd much rather an album goes out on a high, energetic note and a dreary one as ballad-closers usually do. Musically the track is quite similar to the earlier highlight "Moonlight" as it features many of the same instruments, but it's still has its own flavor. The lyrics are both sad and a bit comical, as they desperately sing about a girl whose behavior suddenly changed and now they're only waiting for the ending, hoping it won't be too bad. There are honestly no particular faults with the song, as it has a catchy melody, great vocals (I especially enjoyed Woohyun's high notes near the end) and nearly all of the ingredients for a solid Infinite b-side.

Infinite - Reality
After going through a bit of a slump following their immense success, both musically and commercially, with "The Chaser", it seems that the boys of Infinite are finally getting back on track again. I was never right-on disappointed by any of their releases post-2012 up until now, but none of them managed to make me squeal out of joy or excitement either. It wasn't until "Back" last year that I finally felt all the emotions I know this group and their music could make me feel, and that's when I knew that they were heading in the right direction once again. "Reality" only confirmed those expectations, as it's easily their best album release in a really long time (unless we're counting "Destiny" but that was more of an extended single release).

There's seriously no weak link on this album, but the high quality of the songs isn't even the best part. The improvement shown by all of the members is very impressive, and the ones that maybe didn't get many lines before now have more lines than ever which I think is great. I'm also, unexpectedly but still joyfully, impressed by Dongwoo's and Hoya's transition from rapping to singing, as I think they almost sing more than rap on this album. Overall I think "Reality" will go down as one of Infinite's best and most solid mini albums so far in their career, or at least that's what I think.

Highlights: "Bad", "Moonlight", "Between Me And You"
Least Favorite: "Footsteps"
Total Score: 4,3/5

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