‘Manifesto : Day 1’ is precisely the statement that it claims to be. Arriving six months after ENHYPEN’s first repackaged record, ‘Dimension : Answer’, the new mini-album introduces a new era for the rising powerhouse. In a battleground of self-affirmation, they bluster through six tracks that showcase the group’s growth and breadth, but also their refusal to conform.
And for any rebellious soul to prosper, a little jarringness has to come forward. That’s just how you break the shackles. In ‘Manifesto’, this comes through the title track ‘Future Perfect (Pass the MIC)’ – a statement piece inspired by Chicago drill hip-hop and led by an urgent whistle sample. It’s not ENHYPEN’s easiest song to digest, and they don’t want it to be. ‘Future Perfect’ wants its strength to be felt before you can enjoy the rest of the album’s pleasures.
To better understand ‘Future Perfect’’s merits, you need to pay attention to ENHYPEN’s history. This is their first title track without the emblematic hyphen, a change that Jake attributes to “expanding the meaning of connection” during their press conference. Escaping from the dichotomies that used to blur their minds, they reference previous singles as “passive voices” and demand independence from the past. “I wanna stand on my own feet / Everything else is meaningless,” sings Sunoo in the pre-chorus.
References to their past releases don’t stop there. In the atmospheric 808 beats of intro ‘Walk The Line’, which shared the same name as the intro for their debut mini-album, ‘Border : Day One’, each member pours their heart out in their native language (English, Korean or Japanese). “And I declare / That I who was hunted so far have now become the hunter,” speaks Jake, while Sunoo reaffirms that “I who walked along the line, am now drawing the line”.
On the old-school hip-hop of ‘ParadoXXX Invader’ — the album’s definite highlight, brimming with title track potential — ENHYPEN defy their own lore by establishing a new paradox. They jab at older generations who might underestimate them, arguing that “illogic is logic” now, and “this is no disorder”, just the way the new generation goes.
Following through, similar sentiments are shared in ‘SHOUT OUT’, where ENHYPEN go full-on early-aughts emo. Featuring lyrics co-written by Jake, it also marks the first time a member participates in writing, a sensible step in their pursuit for authenticity and creative agency. Its distorted guitars and stirring chants are uncannily similar to songs from that era, overlaying their celebration of a new world with a nostalgic abandon. “Who on Earth defined myself?” they ask, asserting that they are now in charge of that mission.
But not all is rebellion in ‘Manisfesto : Day 1’. ‘TFW (That Feeling When)’ picks up the sugary thread of popular B-sides like ‘Polaroid Love’ and ‘Not For Sale’, wrapping itself as the obligatory soft pop track in the album. ENHYPEN’s vocal growth is on display here, as they sound heavenly sweet and make us forget that these are the same guys who want to “kill the past, just get lost” in ‘Future Perfect’.
While ‘Manisfesto : Day 1’ has pushed the group in directions that might raise some eyebrows, it also maintains key elements of their identity. Growing up is messy anyway, and ENHYPEN prefer to embrace it than to let it stunt their evolution. Yes, there is no hyphen in the title track anymore, but there’s still the narrated intro and outro, the gentle mid-tempo bound to go viral, the addictive B-sides; everything that made all their previous releases so solid.
‘Manifesto’’s only crime is that a song as good as ‘Foreshadow’ was relegated as a mere outro. What could have been one of their most exciting iterations – sidechained psychedelic beats that merge with distorted, haunting vocals – became, instead, a 45-second sample sandwiched between narrations. But if the title means anything, let’s hope their eventual “day 2” follows its bright footsteps.
- Release date: July 4
- Record label: Belift Lab/HYBE