Published on May 20th, 2015 | by ponyforprez0
SHINee: ‘Odd’ album review
In the wise words of hoobaes AOA, SHINee‘s newest album can be summed up as ‘hot’, ‘fresh’ and ‘fly’. The group has been lying under the radar for quite a bit, focusing on Japanese and solo endeavours instead, so their comeback is long overdue. With a sound that can only be described as transcending the usual K-pop sound, ‘Odd’ stays true to SHINee’s roots and foundation as a ‘contemporary’ boy group and their penchant for experimenting different types of music.
To me, ‘Odd Eye’ is the most interesting track on the album. It starts off with Key dramatising the lines ‘My eyes were looking for you, so I found you, well I know you’re there, show me your eyes, don’t hide’ which sets up a pretty intriguing intro. With his come-hither, teasing vocals, Jonghyun‘s voice is really the centre of ‘Odd Eye’. The ‘oh you, my eyes on you’ hook is superbly crooned out to emphasise the song’s meaning of literally having their eye on someone, and while Onew has a chorus of it to his own, Jonghyun encapsulates the overall feel of it best. I’m impressed that instead of just singing it, he really manages to instil a certain mood into the song, which could possibly be backed by the fact that he personally penned the track. Nonetheless, it’s refreshing that everything’s so cohesive, especially when Minho and Key’s rapping verses intertwined into the track work out really well too. I genuinely love how this song manages to showcase some of the best of what SHINee can offer – taking a generic track and making it intriguing with all the different elements.
For those who didn’t quite enjoy ‘Odd Eye’ like I did, ‘Love Sick’ is sure to have you easing back into more familiar SHINee territory. Described by Jonghyun as the sequel to ‘Noona, You’re So Pretty (Replay)’, ‘Love Sick’ is a saccharine track produced by The Underdogs (they also produced ‘Symptoms’ off ‘Sherlock‘ and Girls Generation‘s ‘Mr.Mr’) that all girls would love to be centralised in for its lyrics describing how a man is still lovesick despite many years of dating the same person. While nothing can ever beat the jam that was ‘Replay’, ‘Love Sick’ is backed by energetic beats, upbeat singing, classic SHINee schmooze and an instant ear worm. There’s little variation musically in the track but fans of feel-good synth sounds will love this. It’s honestly hard not to – it’s an all-round infectious pop song with just the right amount of collectively smooth harmonies.
Even the non fan will find themselves bobbing to title track ‘View’ – although yes, it might take awhile to grow. Perhaps it’s because everyone’s expectations (mine included) have always been astounding high for SHINee releases, but the laments that ‘View’ isn’t as catchy or just as good as previous are pretty expected. Still, trust me when I say this stands as a legit solid track. Starting off with light synths and a pretty mellow approach with lithe, whispery lines from Taemin, the song wastes no time in delving deep into an addictive house chorus swathed in pulsating beats. It’s still dance music that SHINee is best known for, but not the electronica mess that was 2013’s dubstep, EDM-heavy ‘Everybody’ (thankfully), and it exemplifies that sometimes less is really more. Plus, it’s so summery and oozing feel good vibes everywhere that there’s nothing to not like about it. I do see the possibility that those who enjoyed SHINee’s earlier music might find this too trendy/lacking substance, but I say get with the times and enjoy ‘View’, okay? Because it really is good. A nod to Jonghyun for his efforts, once again.
‘Romance’ is tranquil and nostalgic with its ‘shoo bee doo boop boop bee dee’ verses and ecletic funk vibes. It’s truly what head-bobbing dreams are made of. ‘Trigger’ is the complete opposite – it’s not quite the swag-filled hip hop number you’ll find on the album of any other boy group, but it does throw streaks of grit and aggression your way. The music’s colourful, distorted, and fast-moving, and the lines where Key drawls ‘pull the trigger’ are taunting with hints of snark, making this a refreshing listen.
The ballads come in midway of the album, with the first being the quiet and quaint ‘Farewell My Love’. SHINee has pretty awesome ballads in their repertoire, and adds another to add to the list. It’s slow, yet not overly cheesy with its modern synth touches and belt-y moments. It feels like SHINee gets to retain some of their earlier styles here, with Minho weaving a short rap in, Jonghyun banking on fancy falsettos, and Onew bringing the track to a quiet end – but it works, and this is definitely a keeper. The ballad gem however, is next track ‘An Ode To You’. Right off the belt, it charms with a string introduction before the members slowly take turns delivering their lines with earnest emotion. I love that. It’s truly a song with no frills – you won’t even know when the chorus comes in – and it remains this way right up to the bridge before the rhythm moves up a notch and finally closes with heartfelt sincerity. It might be a simple ballad formula but it’s highly effective.
‘Alive’ amps things up again with a higher intensity, and I found myself really enjoying the rap spitting between Minho and Key during the bridge. They might not be known as rappers per se in K-pop, but they’ve managed this very formulatic way of making their own sound work for SHINee songs.
For an absurd title like ‘Woof Woof’, I’m glad the song isn’t terrible. It’s extremely theatrical, fast-paced and unabashedly cheeky. The song literally likens a to a dog who relentlessly chases a girl. With lyrics like ‘will you pet me?’ and ‘where are the treats?’, it’s a tongue-in-cheek track that’s jazzy and speedy and loud altogether, and you’ll find yourself trying to keep up with the tempo throughout.
Chipper ‘Black Hole’ is another crowd-pleaser with its disco-like vibes and repetitive chorus. It’s honestly one of the more forgettable songs here, but I’ve heard my fair share of worse B-tracks (not even being biased) so I’ll be upfront and confidently say this isn’t a track I’ll skip if it comes out on shuffle.
‘Odd’ is aptly wrapped up with ‘An Encore’, a ballad that sums up whatever leftover energy from the previous tracks the boys can muster – all channeled into this emotional number. It’s the ballad with the most ‘energy’ and crescendo, every verse even more uplifting than the last, and it properly pushes each member’s vocal capabilities and really sing. But I’ll admit that ‘An Encore’ does push cheesy typicalness despite its firm delivery. In all, great ballad utilising a tried and tested procedure that works.
This fourth, full-length album is not just a foray into a new genre, but a testament to how SHINee has grown over the years, so much so that they’re now able to comfortably explore more laid-back concepts without worrying that they’ll flop. They’ve secured that amount of support from audiences, and looking at what they’ve showed us over the years, I’d say it’s well-deserved. Main vocalist Jonghyun has shown incredible, credible progress on the sidelines in terms of production for this album, which I believe has pushed not just him but the other members into even more personal delivery and hard work into making ‘Odd’ even better than any work they’ve done before. The songs are nicely varied with a smattering of old and new, and I’m just really glad that we now have more new tracks to dive into and enjoy till the next album.