A few days ago I wrote a gushy little piece about the new BTS album Wings. What I like so much about Wings is that it’s an on-trend, Americanized urban-pop album with real crossover appeal.
What I like about the other big boy band album of the month, SHINee‘s 1 of 1, is the complete opposite. It’s pure K-pop; cool, camp, and as perfectly polished as all the SM Entertainment releases seem to be these days.
1 of 1 is almost faultless from start to finish. The closest thing to a weak spot -and I’m kinda grasping at straws here- is, surprisingly, the lead single. The retro “1 of 1” is a new jack swing throwback, but SHINee does little to update it. The trendsetting fivesome are at their best when they take classic sounds and then modernize them (see the New York house of “View” or the disco dance-pop of “Dream Girl”). As a huge fan of ’80s and ’90s music, sometimes listening to “1 of 1” (as great as it is) just makes me want to turn it off and go play the real thing instead.
The rest of the album is filled with vintage sounds, but SHINee wrap them up in more current pop trends. The boys dive back into UK garage again on the funky opening number “Prism,” and play with deep house again by re-teaming with LDN Noise for “Shift.”
I’d like to choose a standout track, but there’s so many. “Don’t Let Me Go” is beautiful in its melancholy, like a pensive stroll through a leafy park in autumn. “Don’t Stop” is the most erotic song SHINee’s ever done, with the boys breathily teasing mutual orgasms over trembling electronica. Everything else is great – there’s not even the obligatory bad K-pop ballad that you need to skip.
Is the best SHINee album yet? I think so. And you can even buy it on cassette.