Everyone's favorite pastel covered princes of K-Pop are back, but really, with Minho's seductive whispering driving fangirls and fanboys mad, SHINee needs no further introduction. It's been nearly 2 years since their monster hit "Lucifer", and fans have been chewing on their keyboards for their 'Sherlock' album to drop.
Is this the comeback we've all been waiting for?
SHINee's title track "Sherlock (Clue+Note)" is something that SM Entertainment likes to label as a "Hybrid Remix" or what the rest of the world knows as a "mashup". But sarcasm aside, the idea is actually executed quite brilliantly if you take the time to appreciate it.
The tracks, by themselves, are pretty mediocre with some great moments scattered throughout, but when you put them together, the experience improves. "Clue" carries an infectious hook but the instrumental can a bit rampant at times with its blaring synths, whereas "Note" packs a head bobbing bass-line but fails to actually go anywhere. But SHINee's flawless vocal harmonies blend the two key points of both songs seamlessly in "Sherlock." Rather than seeing "Sherlock" as a mere cut-and-paste rework of the two songs, accepting them as two songs and taking "Sherlock" further into detail, makes the album experience a little better.
"Sherlock (Clue+Note)" takes SHINee back a few records, revisiting sounds of their previous hits "Love Like Oxygen" and "Juliette", but as far as production quality and the composition are concerned, it's their most sophisticated and modern title yet. Not to mention, the sherlock theme suits the pretty boys well, while serving as the perfect ribbon to bundle the tracks together.
SHINee takes us a bit further down memory lane with K-Pop/R&B ballads "Alarm Clock" and "The Reason". K-Pop/R&B (K&B?) being a particular niche for most SME boy bands, SHINee's performance on the track doesn't let us down. The two tracks seem more like album tracks that belong on their debut 'Replay' EP, but nevertheless, reassures us of their perfectly polished and distinct voices.
In between SHINee's baby-making album fillers is "Stranger". The heavy and wide saw bass synth that SM abuses with f(x), makes its way in this classic SHINee hook track. Those who aren't a fan of SHINee's retro dance grooves will probably love how "Stranger" brings out the "Lucifer" and "Ring Ding Dong"s out of the boys.
If there's a chance at all of SHINee having one more single before another record or repackage, I think many of us would love to see this as single #2. Here, SME proves to us again that they've got a great ear for pop music. Explosive choruses turning heads once they hit, but with verses just as memorable; "Stranger" is just one of the many fine examples.
Just like any other SM produced record, we have those off tracks that don't really fit in the album to keep the album interesting. Closing the record, we have "Honestly", an acoustic ballad that showcases that sweet, lovable side to SHINee their fans will always remember that by. Though not a classic like TVXQ's debut single, "Hug", it's nice to hear SHINee modernize a familiar SM sound.
Aside from an awesome production and a nearly perfect sherlock theme coursing throughout the tracklisting, we're left to wonder, are we impressed? Is this exactly what we've been waiting for 2 long years?I have to say, when I first snagged the album off iTunes, it was an absolute no. This is all stuff we've already heard before and though 2 or 3 not-so-experimental filler tracks don't seem like much, that's already half the record.
But let's put things into perspective. In today's extremely fast paced (especially in Korea) pop market, we're constantly seeing artists try on new bizarre accessories and irrelevant concepts. That's just become the norm. But what I've come to realize is that 'Sherlock' is so distinctively SHINee, and the elements presented here are ones that will hopefully always stay.
There isn't anything that I'd dislike more than SHINee rehearsing their exhausted little bodies out to another tired, old dubstep routine, which has already been beat down to death in K-Pop after HyunA's "Bubble Pop" went viral on Youtube. Would I have liked to hear something from SHINee we haven't heard before? Yeah that's what I had hoped, but putting my expectations aside, it seems only logical that SM wanted to remind all us what SHINee is about, and what makes the group so appealing.
Just like SHINee's sister group f(x), the band is flawless with all its performances and overall presentation. Though the guys aren't as established on a public scale as Girls' Generation, Super Junior or TVXQ - sound and image-wise they are, and maybe even more so than their seniors. No need to fret, SHINee's got a lot of room to grow, so I guess we'll just have to wait for their full length album to see some of that creativity we're all craving.