K-Pop Group INFINITE’s ‘Top Seed’ Album Shines Through B-Sides
After being away from the Korean music scene for more than a year, INFINITE released their new album, Top Seed, last week (January 8). Their first record as a six-member act following the departure of Hoya from their label, the LP kicks off with “Tell Me,” a hook-laden electro-pop track. While a solid dance song, it feels like a toned down follow-up to their more adventurous recent singles, “Bad” and “The Eye.” But the album itself features some attention-warranting vibrant tracks from the now-sextet, and offers a look as to where the group may head during the second half of their career.
The britpop-hued “Synchronise,” reportedly an early contender for the group’s latest single, is one of Top Seed’s lighter moments, drawing on pop-rock beats and shining synths to create a summery vibe. With a title that reflects on INFINITE’s legacy as one of the most meticulously synchronized groups in Korea, the song’s warm tone recalls the band’s earlier days, when they veered towards more cheery tunes as singles. Though lacking the punch that most K-pop singles demand, the frenetic track matches INFINITE’s historic sound—and the overall rock leanings that the album revisits, despite the single’s hypnotic EDM styling—while pushing the limits through vocal displays, with band member Woohyun in particular dominating the track.
Similar to “Synchronise,” “Wind” recalls INFINITE’s softer days. However, the track’s whistling intro and soaring, strings-and-synth laden melody take a lighter approach to the group’s typical orchestral synth-pop. With a spring in its step and a climactic chorus, “Wind” sounds a lot more like the kind of track a group might release at the height of summer rather than in the depth of winter, but its inclusion on Top Seed is a breath of fresh air.
“Pray,” an older track that has finally seen the light of day—several members’ vocals were recorded as early as 2011—sees INFINITE return to their most prominent songwriting partner, Korean production team Sweetune. Orchestral and dramatic, this is perhaps the most stereotypical INFINITE song on the album, drawing on the same delicate dynamism that previously released songs like “Paradise” and “The Chaser” utilized. Though the ballad lacks the single-style oomph that many of Sweetune’s productions typically exhibit, as a b-side inclusion, “Pray” is a trip down memory lane, nodding to INFINITE and Sweetune’s collaborative glory days.
Elsewhere, “I Hate” draws on J-pop inspired hard rock, a sound that has increased in popularity in K-pop production this year, and features some of the most energetic moments on the album. It’s easy to visualize the members singing along, particularly Dongwoo during his head-banging chant of “I hate,” while the fast melody lends itself to one of L’s finest performances, utilizing the singer’s airy, angst-inducing vocals as a lead-in to the chorus’ powerful guitar riffs.
Top Seed also features a variety of other songs, with the ebullient finale track “Begin Again” standing out, as well as solo tracks from members L, Dongwoo and Sungjong. But it’s these four in particular that reveal INFINITE is still able to hit all the notes that made them a popular group in the mid-2010s while also exploring new sounds.
If anything, Top Seed’s diverse collection of signature and experimental songs prove INFINITE’s sound isn’t getting old—instead, they’re still trying to push their limits to infinity.
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