Jun 23, 2015
SHINee Comes Back With 4th Album "Odd", And It's Glorious
All I can say right now is: MY BABIES. As you may or may not know already; SHINee is my ultimate male bias group and I have been dying for them to make a comeback soon. I wasn't really a huge fan of the songs on "Everybody" apart from "Symptoms", but their 2013 year was still one of their absolute best thanks to the amazing "Misconceptions" albums. Now it's been one year and a half since their last comeback and they've released their fourth full album titled "Odd" which is a real treat for long-time SHINee fans.
"Odd" opens with the suitingly titled "Odd Eye", and right off the bat I can tell it's going to be one of my favorites on the album. The song is slow-paced, sexy and seducing, and all the members get to truly shine on it. The song features rapping from both Key and Minho, and it's unlike any type of rapping we usually hear from them in SHINee's songs. I generally don't find neither of their rapping styles or skills especially impressive, but the special flow and technique used in this song sounds so godly I almost can't believe it's them.
The team's best vocalists too get their chance to flaunt their pipes as the tender chorus is heavy on falsetto and gentle words of love. Additionally, Jonghyun himself wrote the freaking song which only makes me admire and respect him more. Not only because it's an amazing song but because of the way all the members skills are fully utilized on it.
Next up is "Lovesick" which has been presented as sort of a "follow-up" to their debut single "Replay", and it's made even more obvious by them incorporating some classic moves into this new choreography. Musically there aren't too many similarities between the songs, as their debut song was smooth R&B whereas this one is pop at it's finest, but lyrically there are more clues.
Some of lines can be directly linked to "Replay", such as: " You're so pretty, do you know? You're still my everything in my life" and reflecting on how the love interest used to look at them as nothing but younger brothers but are now their lover. This means they started dating noona they longed after and are still madly in love. However I think this song too is a huge gift to those fans who've been there since the beginning, and that after all these years Shawols are still the loves of the members' lives.
"View" is the third track and the title of the album, and I'm actually kind of sad I heard it prior to the whole album because it kind of makes every other song sound pretty mediocre. This is not K-pop, not even a tiny, tiny bit. I would not have expected this from any Korean artist let alone idol group, because the sound of this track is so undeniably western that I couldn't believe my ears when I heard SHINee singing it in Korean. "View" could be played at every summer party, every beach club or road trip along the coast line.
It sounds like a song that would be on every summer-inspired playlist on Spotify, and it blows every other track on "Odd" out of the water. It's contemporary, modern and a perfect example of a electronica track done right, or as the boys have described it: deep house. I'm not too familiar with the genre but it sounds about right. I could write essays about the way the beat slows down and speeds up, the effect of simple yet powerful background instrumental and the members' heavenly vocals, but I have to limit myself for the sake of this post's length. Let's just say that this song is one of a kind in most glorious way possible.
Following is "Romance", a up-tempo pop-track with a whimsical feeling and a enthusiastic drive. The instrumental is quite layered and features various sounds and effects to help build this track, and the "sho-bi-doo" parts are included in a smart way to push the track forward, and also add a light, dream-like vibe to the product. For being a fairly standard SHINee B-side it definitely holds itself quite well, and while it might not be my favorite on the album it's clearly and positively an enjoyable listen.
The fairly light-hearted, lovey mood that has captured the first four songs is long gone with "Trigger", a song with a confusing yet captivating structure. "Trigger" is a song about love and passion, alright, but it's heavy and dark. Penned by staple SM composer Kenzie is a provocation and a request, or more so a demand, as the members sing about asking their vicious ex-lover to pull the trigger and allow them to enter the darkness that's already waiting for them. While I think the lyrics
are nothing but metaphorical it's still pretty straight-forward, which is probably the reason the song was banned from broadcast by KBS (who are known to be ridiculously sensitive too).
At first listen I thought the track was strange to say the least, and a bit messy at times too, but now I've grown to appreciate that's its uniqueness and actually think it's one of this album's more interesting and intriguing tracks. There are parts where it feels like the melody goes off-key and that the pace seems a bit off, but beneath those quirks lies a good, solid track with equally impressive performances by the members. Key especially seems to be in his element whilst singing these type of songs, and his delivery on "Come on baby, pull the trigger" is flawless to the point where I can see his peculiar facial expression in front of me whilst singing those words.
It's back to basics with next song "Farewell My Love", which will awake a certain type of nostalgia with fans who've been around some time. Even I, who've only listened to their first albums long after they initially were released, can't help but feel a tugging at my heart when I hear this power ballad. It reminds me to no end of their earliest releases, especially the verses, and is what a typical SHINee B-side would have sounded like if it was 5 years ago.
What makes it all the more special though is the fact that it still works too me. Nothing about the tune sounds dated or old, instead it provides fans with a new spin on an old SHINee-sound and the result is magical. I knew right when I heard it that it would be one of the songs on the album I would want to go back to, partly because of the heart-breaking lyrics about falling out of love and growing apart but also because of the emotionally involving deliveries by the members along to the stunning melody.
Following up the intense power-ballad is the regular OST-like ballad that occurs on basically every K-pop album, much to my frustration. "Ode To You" is another one of those songs, and it has pretty much every feature you'd expect it to have: cheesy emotional lyrics, dramatic violins and a melody that never goes anywhere. Yet it's not the worst ballad I've ever heard, not remotely, in fact when listening to it it's actually bearable, but that's mainly because SHINee gives one of their best vocal performances to date. What I find most disappointing though is that around the 1:35 mark it picks up as guitars and drums are added and I find myself finally starting to thoroughly enjoy it as it builds up, and then nothing happens. All that excitement for nothing.
What happens throughout the rest of the album is what I like to call the "boring ballad-effect", as the second half that follows is merely half as good as the first one. "Alive" is the one to turn the party around after we've all fallen asleep to the members' gorgeous voices (and snooze-fest of a song, who are we kidding?), and it doesn't quite do the job. It's more in tune of SHINee's most recent B-side releases, and that means that naturally, there is a disconnect between verse and chorus. Neither parts are bad on their own, nor do they clash too harshly, but the vibes are totally different. In the end it's still a catchy song and I find that the chorus especially sticks with you, but it's not one that I would want to listen to on a daily basis.
"Woof Woof" certainly holds the title for the most random song name on the album, and probably too for the most random song overall. It's full on musical and show-tunes for this fast-paced track, as Key starts off by addressing us "Ladies and gentlemen" and then announces that they'll skip the boring bits. Yes, that's actually part of the lyrics. It's correct though, because this song is not boring anywhere, in fact it's the complete opposite. I wouldn't call it a song of deep meaning (it's literally about them comparing themselves to dogs) or impressive production quality, but it's fun and energetic and a breath of fresh air, and as you would expect Key is the main star of this 3 minute show.
The second last track on the album is "Black Hole", and it starts off pretty good. That's really all I can say though, because although the verses are highly enjoyable and the lyrics alright the song is annoyingly repetitive. I get that nearly every song follows a certain pattern and that honestly isn't a problem at all, but I find that the chorus of this particular song just goes on for too long each time and that it's also quite monotone. After listening to it you kind of feel like nothing's really happened, because it's very low on impact on the listener. Every album has this type of song, the one where you forget it's coming and get surprised when you hear it even after listening to the album a couple of times. To summarize: it's not bad, but it's not memorable.
Song-wise it's a solid effort, and all the members sound gorgeous and beautiful, and although the track is a very safe choice to end the album on I think it makes sense. Although it might not become one of their classics I personally like it quite a lot nonetheless, mainly because of the bittersweet feelings it awakens in me and because it reminds me all over again why I love this group.
So where does this leave us? Well, I can for sure say it's not my favorite album of theirs, because I don't think anything can ever top "Misconceptions of Me" in my opinion, but it's a lot better than some of their earlier albums. The biggest change made is probably the return to SHINee's original concept, contemporary pop music, which I'm sure a lot of long-time fans will appreciate. They've taken some of their past elements and improved them and made them sound modern, and it has resulted in this high-quality release.
My problem is that I got into SHINee in 2012 with the release of "Sherlock", and it was around that time they started to experiment more with their sound. For me, this album is not the kind of SHINee I've grown to love since I've been following them for three years, and that's disappointing. This album has a different direction and execution, and many of those post-2012 characteristics I've associated with this group are not as apparent here. I can't take away the fact that it's a wonderful album, but personally it's not what I had wanted. Still, this release is one of the better ones to have come out so far this year (with little competition), and SHINee prove that they are on of K-pop's finest acts.
Highlights: "Odd Eye", "View", "Trigger", Farewell My Love"
Least Favorite: "Ode To You", "Black Hole"
Total Score: 4/5