ENHYPEN have been a frustrating prospect to watch. I was in on the ground floor, watching their formation through the I-LAND series. With huge agency support and a team of well-regarded songwriters, their music should be resonating. But every time I think they’re going to pull something spectacular out of the hat, the songs are undercut by familiar shortcomings.
On the plus side, I think Tamed-Dashed is their strongest title yet. It’s very much in the vein of fellow HYBE artists TXT: punchy power pop with a gritty dancefloor edge. It’s a summer song released in autumn, and its youthful exuberance makes a perfect match for their age and experience. I love the rock-influenced instrumental. It quickly finds a thumping beat and maintains that energy. Warped electro-bass adds a scuzzy texture, ensuring Tamed-Dashed never becomes too cloying. The songwriting is taut and catchy, culminating in an instantly memorable chorus.
However (and I know you’re sick of hearing this), the vocal performance has no color or character. Whether that’s the fault of HYBE’s awful vocal production or the guys themselves, the dull, synthetic sound makes me hyper-aware that I’m listening to a manufactured product. This doesn’t have to be a liability. Plenty of stars have made their name on selling ready-to-assemble pop songs. But, HYBE must find some way to make ENHYPEN’s vocals pop, because right now they come across as a bargain basement version of TXT and BTS. No matter how strong the music is, there’s no aural identity putting a personal stamp on it.
So, what to do with these two extremes? Objectively, Tamed-Dashed is a strong pop song with plenty to enjoy. Subjectively, the vocals mar what could be an excellent comeback. In the end, I think the positives outweigh the negatives, and Tamed-Dashed may even improve with age. After all, this style of big, boisterous pop song is practically tailored to my taste.