Xdinary Heroes show extraordinary talent with debut album

Xdinary Heroes fans, wait no longer. JYP Entertainment finally let your new favorite K-rock band out of the basement.

On July 20, Xdinary Heroes were finally able to greet the world properly with the aptly-named Hello, World! Their first release since their December 2021 single “Happy Death Day,” the album boasts five tracks that show exactly what this talented sextet has had in the works over the past eight months.

Despite an over-reliance on ‘na na’s” as filler lyrics, the songs are, in a word, cinematic. Regardless if you speak Korean or need to find the Genius translations, they tell vivid stories whether they’re describing mundane details in title track “Test Me” (“I’m in a hoodie/I search my octet to put on broken earphones”) or using unique metaphors in “Knock Down” (“With worries hanging like a backpack/my shoulders are heavier”) to illustrate depression and despondence.

Speaking of that title track, “Test Me” was the perfect choice to lead the group’s first comeback. Confrontational in lyrics and tone, the song begins with deceptively gentle bass plucks right before the BOOM. Even simple lyrics like the group chanting the song’s title during the chorus demand attention and, once it’s theirs, Xdinary Heroes refuse to relinquish it. “Test Me’s” entire vibe invites critics and fans alike to test their merit as a band with a confidence they’ll do nothing less than pass with flying colors.

That being said, the best song on the album has to be “Strawberry Cake,” no contest. The heartbreak and betrayal are palpable from the entire band, from the mournful wailing of Junhan’s guitar to the abject surrender of Od.e’s boredom. Jooyeon once again shines with a bass line as slippery as the snake who was coiled around the narrator for so long. With lyrics like “sweet candy liar” and “tell me to live like a puppet,” it’s a tale as old as time with as an addictive flavor as the song’s title. Honorable mention goes to “Knock Down,” a groovy track with an inescapable darkness that’s as haunting as it is catchy.

It’s hard to go through any song on this album without endlessly praising Jooyeon, the bassist with a voice like dark chocolate and a glass of cabernet. If this young man cut his fingers on his bass strings, he would bleed charisma. However, Jungsu is truly the group’s secret weapon with a stage presence fitting a more traditional idol and a voice like Wild Irish Rose: sweet like moscato, burns like whiskey.

Of course, these two don’t carry the album solely on their shoulders. Gunil is a truly underrated drummer with a voice that shouldn’t go unnoticed, and it’s hard to find a guitarist like Junhan, whose technical skill is only rivaled by the emotion he puts behind it. Od.e and Gaon absolutely steal the show in the title track with their defiant, confrontational raps, the former utilizing an onomatopoeia of wood clacking against itself before each chorus of “Strawberry Cake” to enhance the puppet metaphor. It’s subtle, intelligent additions like this that elevate the album from great to brilliant, even if the baroque Steam Powered Giraffe-eqsue “Pirates” and the energetic “Sucker Punch!” don’t quite reach the heights of the other three tracks.

While not a flawless album, it’s easily one of the strongest albums released by a rookie group this year. Here’s hoping fans won’t have to wait another eight months for another incredible installment.

Hello, World! is available to stream on all major streaming services and available to purchase wherever K-pop albums are sold.

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