Before the release of “Don’t Call Me” last week, It had been about three years since the princes of K-pop, SHINee, released their last hit album. The four-man band entered into a hiatus in 2018, as most of the members attended to their mandatory military service in South Korea. Onew joined the military, Key joined the military band as a vocalist and Minho joined the Marines. During this time, Taemin worked on his solo work and debuted in the supergroup SuperM.
SHINee’s title track “Don’t Call Me” has been in SM Entertainment’s reservoir for a while. It was originally given to the “Queen of K-pop,” BoA, who thought it would be better suited for a group. With its hook and well-pronounced hip hop beat, most fans assumed that the group in mind was NCT. Other fans that I talked to claim that this song is like the child of NCT’s Cherry bomb and EXO’s Obsession. The music is not as impressive as a title track, especially considering the previous songs of SHINee that blew it out of the water, but the vocal production is enjoyable all the way to the end.
While the title track is all about keeping with today’s trends when it comes to K-pop, the rest of the songs are closer to SHINee’s traditional sound. “Heart Attack” is one of the songs that follows the traditional, charming SHINee sound. It starts off with a beating baseline and then transitions to bouncy and groovy beats that give it a funky vibe, while the guitar makes it more exciting. The pre-chorus creates a sort of drama that crashes down in the chorus. The group’s harmonies and Taemin and Onew’s vocals shine in this song.
The next song, “Marry You” is probably my favorite, and has stuck with me since fans were able to get a preview of the song last month. While this is SHINee’s B-side, it was also beautiful. Inspired by 90’s R&B, this downtempo pop song is a cleanser. Its highlight is in the chorus and the feel-good tugging melody. Their falsetto is layered to maximum, taking your breath away.
One of SHINee’s trademark sounds is powerful, synth-laden choruses with thick vocal layering espousing a funk vibe. “Code” is just that, using deep house beats. It is the Classic SM sound that all fans know with the group’s color and style. This song’s chorus will give longtime fans nostalgia towards SHINee’s golden era. The beginning stomping beats after the rap is reminded of the Taemin’s solo song “Criminal.” The pre-chorus builds tension to the dominating chorus. If you want to know what SHINee’s sound truly is, this is the song for you.
Things switch up with “I Really Want You,” being more upbeat and heavy on the drums. Despite feeling more like today’s songs, the catchy and energetic chorus made me want to smile. This song continues the nostalgic feeling of the last song as it feels like they have sung this song before. This is probably because they have a song called “I Want You,” but who am I to question the feeling? “Kiss Kiss” goes on a retro vibe, as retro 70/80s tracks have been a popular in the K-pop industry. This is a song that you could play in the car while on a roadtrip.
The reggae-inspired pop song, “Body Rhythm,” shows a more mature side of SHINee. Minho’s and Key’s vocals really shine in this song. Key’s vocals make a huge impact on the chorus, before the rest show off beautiful harmonies.
Overall, I feel that “Marry You” is the best song in the album, but “Attention” is a vocal masterpiece. It has a funky club beat that gives off a sexy, yet sleek vibe. The song is energetic with the best vocal assignment and placement in this album. This is one of the songs that you HAVE to listen to, even if you haven’t listened to SHINee. I can’t wait until I hear get to this song live.
The Album’s ending song “Kind” is a song for the fans, about the fans. Starting off with a filtered and synthesized introduction that leads to a piano-based ballad. “Kind” has become the song SHINee fans resonate with the most. This song proves why they are called princes of K-pop, the vocals here are out of this world. The high singing and flawless runs and harmonies, my mind could not comprehend. Even after so long, most members having served in the military, the form that they convey is amazing.
Overall, this album was vocally amazing which in itself is a treat as most songs are performance-based and vocally negligent, here in the fourth generation. The fact that it’s SHINee on top of that, just proves how unique this group is. I am so happy to have this second generation group back in action.