Seventeen -- 'Love & Letter'
1. No F.U.N
2. Very Nice
7. Pretty U
8. Still Lonely
9. Hit Song
10. Say Yes
11. Drift Away
12. Adore U (vocal team version)
13. Mansae (hip hop team version)
14. Shining Diamond
15. Love Letter
Just about two months after the release of 'Love & Letter,' Seventeen returned to the music scene with a loaded repackage album of the same name.
The album is indeed loaded, featuring a total of 15 tracks, marking the group's first full length LP--a difficult feat for a K-Pop act to accomplish, particularly for a relatively new act like Seventeen. The boys did it all the same, proving themselves to be more than just super rookies but performers who are also producers--something that K-Pop acts aren't really known for. So before I launch into my review, many rounds of applause toward Seventeen for holding up on their own without the need to hire an external producer. Keep it up, boys!
Now getting back to the album...I won't be holding back here in saying that I much preferred the latter half 'Love & Letter's repackage album to the first half. In other words, the new songs on the repackage album were a sore letdown. For the first half of the album, aside from "Very Nice," and to a lesser degree "Pretty U," I didn't like any of the songs. "No F.U.N"? For an opening song it was flagging, a half-hearted hip hop track featuring tribal style chanting and drums. Props to Seventeen for mixing unconventional elements into the song and experimenting; it just didn't work, and overall, the track was...no fun.
On the other hand, I LOOOOOOOOVED "Very Nice" for its terrifically addictive hook. When that big brass-inspired melody kicks in at the chorus, I get this uncontrollable urge to wriggle my body every which way and yell "VERY NICE!" at the top of my lungs because the song is very, very nice. Now this is the kind of Seventeen I like - overpoweringly catchy hooks a la "Adore U" and "Mansae," which set them apart from the other rookie groups.
So you can just imagine my disappointment when the other new tracks on the repackage album turned out to be generic and colorless. "Healing" sounds like the corny jingle to a summer resort/Christian bible camp commercial, and I couldn't bring myself to like it no matter how hard I tried. "Simple" was much the same; in fact, it sounded almost just like "Healing" thanks to the same echoing-style piano and synths. It is basically the more melodic, slowed down version of "Healing"; I don't know if that was intended, but as a listener I couldn't help but note how distinguishably undistinguishable the two tracks were.
Now before you curse me to hell for all eternity, let me add that I truly like the original tracks that were on the non-repackage version of 'Love & Letter.' My favorites off the album are "Still Lonely," "Hit Song," "Say Yes," "Drift Away," and "Adore U (vocal team version)" as they are richer in both melody and emotion. These three tracks may sound like there isn't much going on, stripped bare of all the superfluous overproduction, but that's exactly what makes these songs such gems. Unlike "Healing," "No F.U.N," and "Simple," which overshadow their own potential with unnecessary elements like the infernal echoing effect and the near-sickening abundance of synths, the album's latter half imposes more effectively with simple yet memorable arrangements.
"Still Lonely" is such a groovy track, and I thought the lyrics in particular were deeply earnest yet clever, exploring the feeling of hollow emptiness which is an inevitable presupposition of popularity. "Hit Song," unlike the title itself alludes, is not an upbeat track that you might have imagined; rather, it's a slow, R&B inspired track overwrought with yearning. And I love it, unlike the generic songs which made up the first half of the album. "Say Yes" is another gem, a lovely piano ballad mixed with symphonies that allows us a more intimate listen of Seventeen's gemlike vocals. And by god, this vocal team version of "Adore U" is the best thing on this album. I thought that I wouldn't like anything better than the original, but Seventeen succeeded in proving me dead wrong with this version. It's the song I've had on repeat the most on the entire album, and for good reason. When that "Whooooo~~ baayybeee~~ yeaaahhhhh" rolls into my ears in the beginning, I nearly die. Every time.
Unfortunately, I wasn't too keen about the hip hop team version of "Mansae." I still much prefer the original. I will praise the hip hop team for taking an entirely different approach with the track and making it their own; it just wasn't to my liking. "Shining Diamond" and "Love Letter" were not the best album closing tracks, especially the latter, falling short of the immediately preceding tracks which were so impressive.
This is such a fun MV to a fun song, if I may say so myself! The boys are full of energy as they playfully court that special damsel. I like the literal imagery they used in the MV, showing the boys' chests bursting spontaneously forth with confetti. The confetti represents their feelings toward the girl--feelings which are so great that they cannot possibly contain them. Imagine if every boy that really liked you burst with confetti like Seventeen did ever time he saw you...sweet. Free confetti.
The dancing and the outfits also couldn't be more fitting for the song: playful, peppy, and performed with an underlying sense of urgency and excitement. Ah, young and innocent love. That's what it is. You just can't help but smile at how cute the boys are, reveling in that sweet feeling of romance. It's a feel-good video that will leave you feeling, well, all good on the inside. A solid "Umji Chuck"!