Enhypen are hyphenated no more.
To usher in a new era, the seven-member boy group have moved past their quartet of hyphenated title tracks, (“Given-Taken,” “Drunk-Dazed,” “Tamed-Dashed,” “Blessed-Cursed”) now opting for a grittier, more brash development of the music they previously released with their third mini album, Manifesto: Day 1.
As an ode to their past and early days, which are already nearly two years behind them, Manifesto: Day 1 largely highlights the growing pains that Enhypen’s members have experienced both together from their start on Mnet’s I-Land and individually as they grapple with their own journey as idols. To emphasize this aspect, two of the EP’s tracks, “Walk The Line” and “Foreshadow,” feature spoken-word lines from each of the members in their native Korean, English, and Japanese that discuss their past struggles and where they may be headed next:
If it’s a strugglе to keep your promise
More than the trust we’ve shared
Can you be firm?
I still believe, I still firmly believe
We can still meet
We will connect no matter what
These lyrical discussions of growing pains aren’t the only ones experienced on the album. While clearly most different in sound from any album Enhypen has released before, Manifesto: Day 1 isn’t always a showcase of the group’s perfected maturity. While its experimentation is certainly welcome, the result of it is some faltering moments, and others that feel too mundane for the newness the EP strives for.
“Future Perfect (Pass the MIC)” is one of those mundane moments on the album — which comes as a surprise for an Enhypen title track and one of its rebellious nature. Based in influences from Chicago drill-trap, “Future Perfect” is the group’s most intense title track yet. However, with a melody backed by a looping whistle sample that at times is hard to escape, it’s not the easiest listen. And while the members’ vocal delivery is noticeably bolder and more choppy to fit the vibe of the song, it also hardly fills the emptiness left by monotone synths and trap beats.
However, Enhypen’s choice to release a title track that doesn’t have the most familiar or digestible sound feels purposeful, and does the job of signaling the group’s growth in a new, uncharted direction.
Similarly, the intro and outro tracks, “Walk The Line” and “Foreshadow” feel more lackluster despite their supposed grandness as indicated by each members’ striking narration and proclamation of their vision for a better and brighter future. When both tracks dissolve into their melodies, they resemble the catchiness and familiarity of previously-released Enhypen tracks — although those moments are cut too short.
But Manifesto: Day 1 isn’t all growing pains. While completely opposite in sound, b-sides “ParadoXXX Invasion” and “TFW (That Feeling When)” are both prime examples of the group’s successful moments of maturation. “ParadoXX Invasion” takes inspiration from ‘90s hip hop, and also features writing credits from Jake, the first for any Enhypen member. As with “TFW (That Feeling When),” an acoustic-based love song, “ParadoXXX Invader” features glowing, smooth, and obviously matured vocals from each member that elevate the track’s bounciness and take it to the next level. “TFW” itself has a leveled-up “Polaroid Love”-esque vibe about it, sticking with the sweet, poppy sounds and vocals Enhypen execute best.
The track’s lyrics are also a bright point on the EP, as Enhypen reiterate their youthfulness with wordplay and cheeky references and describe their growing feelings with lyrics like:
Several obvious words
I can’t show it through language
Common J-P-G (Ah)
This isn’t enough
Rounding out Enhypen’s streak of standout moments on Manifesto: Day 1 is “SHOUT OUT,” a clear callback to early 2000s emo tracks that the group executes extremely well. As many groups have their go at the punk-rock-emo trend, it’s not always a given that they’ll do it well or make it their own, but Enhypen’s vocals fit right in. Again, their matured vocals are on full display here — Jungwon’s, Sunghoon’s, and Sunoo’s raspy moments and vocal growth are particularly prominent.
While not always a hit, Manifesto: Day 1 surely isn’t a miss either. For a group so young and teeming with talent and potential, Enhypen has to work out the kinks somehow to continue their upward stride after a series of successful back-to-back releases, and this EP does just that. It’s only their Day 1, which means there’s so much more to come.