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Album Review: K-Pop Boy Band WINNER Show An Edgier Side On Their New 5-Song EP 'EXIT: E' [AUDIO]

By Staff Writer | February 02, 2016 11:51 AM EST


After more than a year without any new releases, WINNER returned in a big way on Monday, with their new five-song EP "EXIT: E" revealing a whole new side to the K-pop boy band.

The new release WINNER at their rawest. The five members of the group of reality show winners replace the suaveness of their 2014 debut "2014 S/S" and replaces it with the earnest emotions of male, 20-something exploring their own artistry and fame.

From start to finish, "EXIT: E" is WINNER's varied response to an audience eagerly waiting to see where this group of talented performers is going to go next.

The album opens with "Baby Baby," a soulful, K-pop take on a country song.

Opening up with crisp falsetto and simple strumming, "Baby Baby" is a jazzy take on a cry for help. The swaying rhythm belies the dark message of the song, as the narrator asks for help, from his love, from his friends, requesting just not to be alone before finding solace in alcohol. Soulful and reflective, "Baby Baby" comes off as the more adult R&B-blues version WINNER's earlier release "Empty."

The next song on the album, "Sentimental," takes WINNER into a world more familiar to YG Entertainment lablemates Big Bang than the newer group, but WINNER absolutely owns the playful sound.

The relaxed pop-rock song is oddly age appropriate when compared to WINNER's other tender, perhaps overtly emotional, songs; this is a song about the relationship of a twenty-something, with its ups and downs, and all of the intensity with a few comical synths thrown in. The song even offers up a shout out to Ray Charles as the lyrics bemoan (and perhaps even mock) the heartache that accompanies relationships.

If "Sentimental" is the lighthearted answer to WINNER's emotional songs without going to far into the deep end and keeping things safely on the lite music side, the third selection "Immature" is an energized departure from the more sobering sound that permeates the rest of the album.

"Immature" is as upbeat as WINNER takes it, grabbing hold of a fun rock sound. Intriguing chord progressions, backing melodies and electro elements keep things interesting on the track, as a steady drum beat brings WINNER into the realm of K-rock. While the title is "Immature" and the song is all about not wanting to grow up, the nuanced elements beneath the surface vocals and beat of the song show some serious personal group from the five rising Hallyu stars.

"Immature" is the final song on the EP that is sung by all of WINNER, as the final two songs feature Taehyun and Mino, respectively.

"I'm Young," a simple ballad solo from Taehyun focuses on the evocativeness of the WINNER member's voice to tell a story of love and longing. Coming after the comparatively hyperactive "Immature," "I'm Young" slows things down to a snail's pace and asks for listeners to lend a sympathetic ear.

The final song on "EXIT: E," "Pricked," had been previously released as a promotional track. The composition is a collaborative effort between Taehyun and Mino that combines the tenderness of "I'm Young" and the rock colors of "Immature" incorporating acoustic guitar and plenty of reverb. Evocative and eerie, "Pricked" ends the EP by opening up a new musical style for the K-pop singers.

As such a strong and varied offering, the most frustating thing about the new WINNER EP is that it is painfully short.

Listen to the full album of WINNER's new "EXIT: E" EP RIGHT HERE

Tagged :  winner, exit:e, taehyun, Mino, WIN: Who Is Next?, winner yg entertainment, review, album, album review, K-Pop, kpop


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