Music Review

Album Rewind: ‘1 of 1’ by SHINee

SHINee's 2016 album is intelligent and ambitious.

Looking back at the music that withstood the test of time, through fresh perspectives and archived reviews. The following review was originally published on October 14, 2016, written by Arnold for Music Mind.

1 of 1 – The 5th Album

If the soft return of Sechskies and a potential S.E.S. reunification aren’t enough to clue you into the 90’s revival we’re in, then the latest group to hop on the nostalgia bandwagon will help jog your memory.

That group is SM Entertainment’s SHINee, who return this month with their fifth studio album, 1 of 1 – The 5th Album. You will be glad to know that not only is this album rife with retro inspiration, but if you’ve dug deep enough through SHINee’s extensive repertoire, it’s also a throwback to the group’s earliest releases dating back to 2008.

Yes, we re-enter The SHINee World on SHINee’s latest comeback, most notably with their title track. “1 of 1” is a near carbon copy of “누난 너무 예뻐 (Replay)”, drawing heavily from the same old-school R&B genre. The new single is bubbly and feel-good like the original, but what sets “1 of 1” apart is SHINee’s upgraded vocals. The group gels together better on this track. Each member cuts through the wavy soundscape with a lot more energy and conviction. Jonghyun no longer dominates the vocal track; this time, the whole gang (including Minho!) offer moments of vocal satisfaction. Better yet is that “1 of 1” feels surprisingly current. The production is polished and has just enough of a modern spin to keep it fresh.

This much isn’t a surprise. SM Entertainment is well known for their refined production quality. Their clean treatment on the mix allows SHINee’s latest album to shine in all its retro glory. Songs like “Prism” and “Feel Good” revive late 90’s UK Garage and House genres masterfully. In “Prism,” layered harmonies add an interesting element of rising tension against the choppy phrasing happening throughout the song. The arrangement on this track is scattered and fast-paced, but SHINee manages to surf every nuance without falling out of sync. They perform even more brilliantly on “Feel Good.” Designed to strut to, I’m sure, “Feel Good” doesn’t wait long to unfold into a dreamy, retro synth-pop banger. The track is so bass heavy, that it pushes SHINee to sing in falsetto here more than most points on the album. The sexy trap section that occurs around the two and a half minute mark throws in an added element of surprise that is customary of SM.

And the experimenting doesn’t end there. The jazzy, electronic “U Need Me” is an ambitious (and perhaps a bit fussy) up-tempo that adds more elements into its tightly compressed three and a half minutes worth of space than it knows what to do with. The song is dreamy one second, then an eclectic urban party the next. In many ways, it’s a sibling to 2012’s “Sherlock.셜록 (Clue+Note).” The flamboyancy is there, and boy is it noisy.

Elsewhere on the album, SHINee glides through chic beats (“Don`t Stop”) that bring out a more sensual way of singing from the group. On “SHIFT,” they reach even further back in time, as the members find themselves vibing to a deep bass track decorated with slick 80’s synths.

For a group that has spent their entire existence collecting and fusing genres in smart and unique ways, SHINee takes a moment to revisit nearly all of them in 1 of 1. The album finds a way to remain current and contemporary without losing focus on the classic styles, like new jack swing and early EDM, that have come to shape SHINee’s music and KPop as we know it today.


Genre: Dance, R&B/Soul | Release Date: 10/5/16

Credit: This article was originally written and published for Music Mind (Source).

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