On the Run with PENTAGON
This is PENTAGON’s fifth mini-album despite only having been active since October of last year after the members participated in the idol survival reality show, Pentagon Maker. It’s been a busy year for PENTAGON; they debuted in Japan with their single “Gorilla,” held their third solo concert, and made three comebacks including the outstanding tracks “Critical Beauty” and “Like This.”
DEMO_02 is the second installment in PENTAGON’s demo series, which began in September with “Like This.” Following in the footsteps of their previous demo, every track on the album is written by the members of PENTAGON, with members also composing and arranging certain tracks too. With each stellar track handcrafted by the members, Demo_02 proves just how talented PENTAGON is and why they are destined to top the charts in the future.
The official comeback track of Demo_02, “Runaway,” is an EDM track with heavy synth sounds that swell to a powerful chorus. The track is a follow up to “Like This,” and its music video is a continuation of the past music video. The video features the members running, fixing cars, and partying it up, with glimpses of a car accident also shown in the first music video.
Hidden throughout the music video are little gems for eagle-eyed fans. The shipping crate at the top of the opening shot has the word “universe” on it, which is the name of PENTAGON’s fanbase, and there’s another shot where the camera zooms into a picture of a clown—a reference to the group’s past comeback “Critical Beauty” which had a circus concept!
Since its release, the biggest critique of “Runaway” has been that it sounds a lot like its predecessor “Like This.” Structurally, the two songs are almost identical and share a chorus that relies heavily on an EDM backbeat. The songs are actually so similar that the line distribution on each track is almost exactly the same. That being said, it is easy to forgive the similarity if the listener understands that these two comebacks are a part of a package deal. The packaging for both albums is also similar, and the music video even continues the past comeback’s storyline, so it appears that similarities between both comebacks, both in sound and visuals, were intentional.
It’s not as if PENTAGON is just repeating the same material; the group is very flexible in its exploration in sound, which ranges from the 1950s rock-inspired “Critical Beauty,” sampling Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock,” to the laid-back, R&B “Organic Song.” Fears that PENTAGON are pigeonholing themselves into one genre with “Runaway” are unfounded—a fact confirmed by the rest of the album and its variety of different sounds and genres.
Instead of worrying, listeners should enjoy and embrace “Runaway” for what it is: a fun, exciting, new comeback from the group with incredible vocals, explosive choreography, and solid rapping. It is a stellar standalone track that becomes even more impressive when you learn the group wrote it themselves.
The remaining four tracks of DEMO_02 are almost like a taster sample of all that PENTAGON can accomplish. Each track gives a tiny bite of different styles that leaves the listener hungry for more. Whether it’s the tropical house “All Right,” the heart-lifting ballad “Stay,” or the dreamy, synth-heavy “Violet,” there’s something on this record for everyone. PENTAGON’s rap and vocal units also released a song each—“Stay” and “Pretty Boy.”
“Pretty Boy” by the rap unit is just plain fun; its lyrics and adlibs shouted by the members are hilarious, especially Yuto’s. The track doesn’t feel like it takes itself seriously, but that’s what makes it amazing; it’s so tongue-in-cheek that it even has a Jason Derulo-esque moment where a woman says “pretty boys” in English and then blows a kiss. The backbeat is full of other random sounds like gunshots, shouts from the other rappers, and even switches at the end to a pounding drum as the members clap and chant, “We are pretty boys!” It makes the listener want to clap, sway, and belt the lyrics along with them. “Pretty Boy” is a track that’s lighthearted, silly, and full of bravado just like the rap unit themselves.
If you only had time to listen to one track off of DEMO_02, I would recommend “Stay” hands down. This song is not only an out of this world ballad that knocks you off your feet, but it affirms that PENTAGON is the group you need to be watching because they are jaw-droppingly talented.
Written by Hui, “Stay” opens as a dreamy, 1980s synth ballad with glittering vocals that flourishes into a gorgeous, classic R&B ballad. Not only does the song show the amazing range of each member, but it shows how well the vocalists of PENTAGON work together; when one member is singing, he’s backed by a wave of beautiful background harmonies from the other members that lift the song to another level. Jinho and Hui’s harmonious duet is divine and is followed closely by Jinho’s unbelievable high note that turns “Stay” into an almost spiritual experience. This is a song that is begging to be performed live and sets PENTAGON apart from every other group right now. It is, for lack of an even better word, flawless.
PENTAGON’s DEMO_02 illuminates what makes the group so unique and why listeners should be taking notice: their vocals are no joke, their choreography is strong, their rapping is a force to be reckoned with, they are able to produce music in any genre and make it their own, and on top of everything, they can write their own fabulous songs. If you haven’t started listening to PENTAGON yet, what’s stopping you?
“Runaway” Title Score: 8/10
Music Video Score: 8.5/10
DEMO_02 Album Score: 9.5/10