Although SM Entertainment announced last year that SHINee‘s comeback would come a few months after “Sherlock” was released, it didn’t happen. I guess they had a change of plan. And so – 11 months later – SHINee officially makes a comeback — in two parts.
Let’s just get straight into the review:
1. “Spoiler” – No, they aren’t trolling you with the intro, which sounds exactly how “Sherlock” starts. Penned by member Jhong Hyun and cleverly containing all the titles of the songs in the album, the opening track is actually produced by Thomas Troelsen – the same Danish songwriter behind “Sherlock”. The chorus, although heavily processed, is the best bit. A recurring theme as you will see. – 4/5
2. “Dream Girl” – The lead single:
Oddly enough, I wasn’t blown away like I assumed I would be. I heard the audio when “Dream Girl” first released and thought it was just okay. A listenable track, yes, but nothing special. The chorus — which is what made “Sherlock” so good — is just okay this time around. The rest of the song also felt a bit plain.
But when the music video came out, I watched the dance version first — because I’m always more keen on seeing SHINee dance! Again, the choreography was… okay; and I didn’t like the song any better. It wasn’t until I watched the actual MV that I appreciated the song more. For once, SM produces a video that isn’t one of their typical box videos, and actually attempts to do something different this time around. With all the bouncing off the walls, waking up from their dreams and flickering outfits, I somehow enjoyed the song more with these visuals.
No comments on the pants though. A good song, but not a SHINee “classic” in my opinion. – 3/5
3. “Hitchhiking/히치하이킹” – Another strong chorus-driven song. When the album sampler hit YouTube, this was the first song that I fell in love with it. Funky instrumentation with a rap verse that doesn’t sound forced for once. Definitely one of my favourite songs on the album. – 4/5
4. “Punch Drunk Love” – SM describes this song as: “cute melody with the lyric that compares the feeling of being in love to the dizziness that comes after getting a punch in a boxing”. Okay. Adam Sandler’s movie of the same name aside, this song reinforces the vibe the album producers were going for throughout: 1970s funk. Another good song! – 3/5
5. “Girls, Girls, Girls” – After four songs more or less on the same tempo train, SHINee slows things down with this upbeat ballad. It’s a good song girls will sure love, but somehow it’s always noticeable how most Koreans pronounce it “gurls” 🙂 – 3/5
6. “Aside” – Another upbeat ballad reminiscent of a classic ’70s love song. The verses give way to a catchy chorus that is sure make it on to some OST. Really loving the songs on this album so far! – 4/5
7. “Beautiful/아름다워” – The second song I instantly fell in love with from the album sampler was this track. Again, because of the chorus! So very Michael Jackson (or The Jacksons), which should be obvious when you find out this song is composed by longtime MJ-producer Teddy Riley! – 4/5
8. “Dynamite/다이너마이트” – By now we should be expecting at least some album filler material, but I couldn’t write this song off simply because the chorus comes to the rescue yet again. – 3/5
9. “Runaway” – The final track on the album sounds different from everything else up to this point. The sound mixing enhances the boy’s natural vocals but other than that, this very much a K-pop track that I probably wouldn’t be listening to a whole lot after this review goes live. – 2/5
The one phrase I could use to describe this album is best summed up by Roxette’s greatest hits album ‘Don’t Bore Us, Get to the Chorus!‘. It couldn’t be more true for most of the songs on the tracklist. Just when you think the songs are worth skipping, the choruses make you reconsider. Although most of the tracks are composed by Thomas Troelsen and hitchiker, there’s still an overarching theme that is consistent from start to finish.
Clearly influenced by 1970’s funk and pop, it’s a refreshing sound in today’s electronic world, and no better suited than for SHINee. A group that showed how well they could pull off Michael Jackson-esque music with songs like “Juliette” years ago. SHINee’s vocalists (especially the powerful Jhong Hyun) can certainly pull it off in style.
That said, “Dream Girl” certainly isn’t a song I find myself going back to a lot. I still listen to “Lucifer,” “Sherlock,” “Replay” and Juliette” at least once a month. I doubt “Dream Girl” will join that playlist. As for the rest of album — hell yes! Another example where in the album tracks outshine the lead single. And if SM Enterntainment could cram in five to six great songs in this compilation, I can’t wait to see what they have in store when ‘Chapter 2’ comes out in April!
My final rating for SHINee’s 3rd full-length album ‘Chapter 1. Dream Girl – The Misconceptions of You’: 4 out of 5 (Very Good)