After recapping each and every episode of this summer’s I-LAND, I feel a strange sort of kinship to ENHYPEN. This comes despite the fact that I rarely enjoyed the music that came out of that series. Still, the guys have plenty of potential, and that fact that they’re bolstered by the support of Big Hit guarantees their instant success. It also guarantees a few other things, like awful vocal processing and yet another title track by the omnipresent Melanie Fontana/Michel “Lindgren” Schulz duo.
Like most of their agency peers, ENHYPEN’s debut album attempts to establish layers of lore. I’m honestly too tired to research the specifics, but Day One appears to be the first in a series. As usual, none of this matters if the music isn’t good.
Title track Given-Taken has its moments, but doesn’t present the defining vision I’d hope to hear in a debut. Like most of I-LAND’s output, it feels like 2020-era Big Hit by-the-numbers. The song takes way too long to get going, wasting its first forty-five seconds with a sputtering, non-starter of a melody. Things improve as the beat drops and the chorus takes charge. It’s not an incredible hook, but it’s the one time during Given-Taken that the suffocating vocal processing actually fit.
The song’s climax also offers a peek at what ENHYPEN’s music could become. I enjoy the dramatic backing vocals during the bridge. They lend Given-Taken an ornate touch, which feels like what the entire track is aiming for. Unfortunately, there’s just too many meaningless diversions peppered throughout the verses to make this much of a compelling debut.