Song Review: Luminous – Engine

Luminous - EngineRookie group Luminous has compiled an inconsistent discography so far. They debuted with the fantastic hip-hop track Run last year, but followed it with the less-than-fantastic All Eyes Down. Now they’re back with a full album, which is highly unusual from a rookie of their stature. Better yet, they’ve enlisted the great G-High to compose title track Engine. With a catalog that includes TOO’s Count 1, 2, Stellar’s Marionette and Infinite’s Hysterie (among many others), the situation seems ripe for Luminous to embrace the best hallmarks of K-pop’s recent past.

To be clear, Engine is very much my kind of song. I love this herky-jerky funk style, with percolating grooves and ultra-rhythmic vocal lines. In a perfect world, the song would be as successful as EXO’s Love Me Right or Seventeen’s Mansae. But while I appreciate Engine’s intentions, there’s something missing here. I’m not sure if this lies in Luminous’s performance or a quirk of the production, but the track feels like it’s holding back. Kicked up a couple notches, we could have a real highlight on our hands. But rather than delivering the explosive energy a song like this requires, Engine paints within the lines to craft something that feels kind of like a demo.

Even with this issue, the track remains enjoyable thanks to its solid construction and catchy hooks. The chorus misses an opportunity to go big, settling for a forgettable melody that belies the strength of the verses. But when Engine pops, it hints at something far greater than what we ultimately get. That’s probably why the song feels so frustrating, even as I’m bopping my head to the beat.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.25


5 thoughts on “Song Review: Luminous – Engine

  1. Right on cue: another example of bright theme with pastel suits, or close enough.

    It sounds in places thiscloseto new jack swing, and yet is half a beat here or there away from classic new jack swing. And that gives it a more herky jerky rhythm which just doesn’t flow. It doesn’t make you want to move and dance along because as soon as your body sways thisaway the beat hits and you feel like you should be thataway already.

    And with that, I shall leave everyone with Janet, Ms Jackson, with a classic new jack swing song. Happy day, Nick!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. unrelated but do you have any resources for jpop releases? all im doing is going on the avex yt channel and sorting by most popular to find songs


    • Hmm… I subscribe to a lot of group/agency channels on youtube and follow a lot of my favorite acts on twitter. I regularly check “announcement” pages from some of my favorite agencies like Johnny’s and LDH

      Otherwise, you can find a lot of info just by browsing online retailers like Tower Records Japan, CDJapan and iTunes Japan.

      However, there aren’t any regularly-updated release databases for J-pop like there are for K-pop — at least none that I know of! There used to be a great thread on the OneHallyu forums, but it hasn’t been updated for years. That forum’s still not a bad place to go to find a (very cherry-picked) selection of new releases, though:


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