ENHYPEN’s sophomore EP is a dark ode to youthful passion

Image from HYBE Labels

Ever since ENHYPEN debuted with their first official EP ‘Border: Day One’, in November of last year, several expectations were already on the group’s young shoulders, having been formed as part of the reality show I-LAND, which aired in the summer of 2020.

Their debut track ‘Given-Taken’ was a hit, and an unexpectedly introspective one, as the seven-member band questioned and grappled with the concept of success “given or taken” with the kind of insight that only comes from training in considerable part in the public eye. It’s a gamble that’s definitely paid off for the large part, cementing the (incredibly young) idols as definite talents to watch out for.

If there’s anything that categorizes many of BigHit’s artist album releases, it’s an overarching theme that usually composes of a trilogy of mini-albums — and for ENHYPEN’s sophomore offering, the central theme is of dizzying carnivals and the kind of feverish, fiery passion only the youth can muster.

Many of ‘Border: Carnival’s tracks are tinged with a certain gloominess, a certain sense of delving into darker, heavier subjects befitting of the album’s carnival concept, mixed in with elements of alt-rock and EDM.

Introductory track “Intro: The Invitation” is atmospheric and heady and ambitious, with a spoken-word passage quoted directly from Shakespeare himself delivered by its members as its centerpiece.

But ultimately, many of its tracks also primarily rely on a string of steadily-crafted hooks that move the track along on a stable enough pace, but nonetheless teeter on the edge of what could’ve been something truly great. Of these, the album’s standouts are the languidly paced, R&B-flavored ‘Fever’ and ‘Not For Sale’, both of which strike good balance between ENHYPEN’s steadily maturing vocals with interesting enough sonic experiments over to keep listeners hooked to the album, tethered to that make-believe carnival.

The band also relies on constant layers of sound production, which at certain times tend to feel a step too heavy-handed, at times coming to the forefront of the listening experience. But beneath all that, beyond the heavy-handedness intensity that this new era ushers in, the seven boys of ENHYPEN remain an inherently dynamic and multi-talented group, with many an ace up their sleeves.

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