When ENHYPEN debuted in November 2020 the seven members were fueled by dreams and powered by the sheer adrenaline of being in the classic K-pop survival show. The septet hit the ground running, fresh off their success in “I-Land,” the reality program that showcased them at their most vulnerable.
In “I-Land,” they powered through make-or-break missions, tested their teamwork and established an earnest bond with fans. Till the end, they were just young boys carried by their desire to win, full of talent and a thirst to prove themselves.
The seven were set then to be ENHYPEN, a group that would soon shake up the K-pop scene. Great things were to be expected from Jungwon, Heeseung, Jay, Jake, Sunghoon, Sunoo and Ni-ki, who bested 16 other trainees and triumphed in the eyes of producers who have worked with musical legends like BTS.
In ENHYPEN’s first studio album, “Dimension: Dilemma,” we get a more personal glimpse of their stories on the battlefield. “Dimension” marks a new series for the boys. “If we [were] on the ‘Border’ of trainees and idols [for our first extended play] … With this album, we want to express the emotions and experiences over the past year since our debut,” said Jake in their media showcase.
“Dilemma” is a contemplative coming of age for the rookie group. The velocity of their ascent comes with significant pressure, being dubbed as K-pop’s 4th Generation Hot Icons, and debuting under a company known for creating the likes of BTS and TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT).
In a year, they’ve racked up achievements that could rival established groups in the industry. “Dilemma” sold over 810,000 copies, the biggest first-week album sales among K-pop’s fourth generation boybands. The album also topped Japan’s Oricon charts and debuted on the much-coveted US Billboard 200 at No. 11, their second album to do so.
“I think we improved in our attitude toward our performances and music,” Heeseung said, describing how the group makes songs that can provide comfort and happiness to their fans. “Our different personalities [and the members’] synergy has helped us gain global fans,” he added.
“Dilemma” opens with the band’s signature introduction, an invitation to their lore, which member Jake has artfully mastered. Narrations for some may seem like fillers, but “Intro: Whiteout” isn’t just a transition—it’s a portal, with lucid imagery so vivid that it transports you directly to the sea, the sand under your toes, the warmth of the sun right at your fingertips.
“Now we stand in front of the most fantastic island in the world/ You can take anything you want, but nothing is free/ The most precious things might be the things you have to give away,” Jake says, a line that seems to reference their genesis—“I-Land” and the trials they faced. “It is a welcome and warning,” he ponders as he brings you right into “Tamed-Dashed.”
The immersive and bright title track of this record takes inspiration from new wave and the ’80s. The boys bring summer in October, with funk-driven bass and a refreshing synth line. “Tamed-Dashed” is an upbeat take on “agonizing thoughts” (Should I be tamed/ Flash of desire enchanting me/ Dreams beautiful/ And grotesque/ Keep changing shape), with preppy beats building tension in every verse. It’s a first for the boys, who carved out their musical niche with dark and mysterious tracks like “Given-Taken” and “Fever” in earlier releases. Still, “Tamed-Dashed” maintains that signature hypnotic sound, a mesmerizing energy unique to ENHYPEN.
“Upper Side Dreamin’” stays on the lighter side as well, an edgeless midsummer night’s dream that plays around a catchy and flowing euphony. It’s an easy song to fall in love with, along with “Just a Little Bit,” which keeps up the enamoring atmosphere. The ballad flexes the member’s vocal chops and their ability to paint strokes of sincerity in every line.
Meanwhile, the all-or-nothing club anthem “Go Big or Go Home” captures ENHYPEN’s rightful bravado. The boys have always been winners, and the overwhelming confidence in the track sounds more like a mantra, a prefight soundtrack to the game of life. “My destiny is awesome/ This confidence without evidence/ all or nothing, just go,” Sunoo sings, almost like a reminder to themselves.
But the real battle begins in “Blockbuster,” featuring labelmate Yeonjun of TXT. Yeonjun’s throttling rap verse comes alive in every line, packing a powerful punch matched by the dynamic vocals of ENHYPEN. The pop-rock track plays out like an action movie—it’s ridiculously fast-paced, with the seven embracing their narratives as the main characters, a declaration of their vision as protagonists of their own story: “Shake the world as I want it/ Make things come true as I had dreamed/ Even if I do everything I want to/ I survive until the end.”
“Attention, please” follows this, bringing the same scrappy spirit that made ENHYPEN triumph, establishing themselves as K-pop prodigies. Exploring the rock genre works well for the group, with the member’s vocals melding into each other, commanding roaring guitar riffs and stomping drums. The boys are relentless in their pursuit of success, and here they are, rockstars ready to embrace fame and everything that comes with it.
In “Dilemma,” ENHYPEN sets their course. It’s an introduction to their own complicated world, a new sonic language they’re developing as they continue to learn more about themselves through their music. In “Interlude: Question,” narrated by member Jay, they hint at the next chapter: “What choice do I make?/ Who am I? And what do I mean when I say ‘me?’”
Folded into the eight cuts of “Dilemma,” is ENHYPEN’s personal history—an exploration of choices. The record slips you into the world of young adulthood, as the boys come to terms with the pains of glory, the album’s own ambivalence being its own strength.
As ENHYPEN celebrates its first year as a group, “Dilemma” takes us back to what they felt when they were trainees, a more intimate look at the determination and will that propelled them to new heights. The album is forward-looking, an imperious ode to their own fears. It’s ENHYPEN’s own story, and they’re more than ready to tell it.
“As ENHYPEN we want to grow as singers. We want to be loved by many people,” leader Jungwon said. “We hope we go beyond the fourth generation and become a group that gains more attention in the whole industry,” he added.
And “Dilemma” is all about that action and ambition—dreams they want to fulfill, goals they’re willing to pursue. There’s nothing passive about the boys of ENHYPEN, who were molded by their own grit and sacrifices in just a year. It’s no secret what these boys have been through to be where they are now—top of the charts, and exactly where they are meant to be.