SEVENTEEN – 'Al1'
1. Don't Wanna Cry)
2. Habit (Vocal Team)
3. IF I (HipHop Team)
4. Swimming Fool (Performance Team)
5. MY I (Jun x THE8)
6. Crazy in Love
7. WHO (CD Only)
8. Check-In (Remastering) (CD Only)
Seventeen is releasing its own special sequence of albums called the 2017 Seventeen Project. The new mini-album 'Al1' ("alone") kicks off this venture with 6 new songs, and two special CD only tracks. This is their fourth EP to date.
"Don't Wanna Cry" is much more a soft pop tune than anything else, and doesn't pop as much as I would expect for a title track. I was hoping for a jam, but this just left me cold. There are parts I like, but the soft voices were off-putting. I'm not sure what I was hoping for, but this just sounded flat to my ears.
"Habit" is epic, billowy, and sweeping, a ballad worthy of the name. Ironically it is sung with much more heart and power behind it than the title track. It also is terribly good at giving you the feels, and there's a majestic feel to it. I love these kinds of tunes. It spoke to me far more than "Don't Wanna Cry."
"IF I" is the HipHop Team's contribution, although there's only a tiny bit of rap. It's got a smooth R&B beat, but I like where they take it, with pounding beats and plenty of attitude. They use the title and chorus as a hook, making this tune crazy catchy. There's definitely a techno influence here, which makes me love this track even more.
The Performance Team serves up "Swimming Fool," which is a kickass piece of electropop. There's some down pitched vocals, stuttering repetition and golden synth wubs. I've always loved the EDM influences in the Performance Team's tunes, and songs like this just make the disc so much more enjoyable.
"MY I" is by THE8 and Jun, another tune messing around with techno beats. (Hmm...I see a theme here...) As they're both from the Performance Team, I probably shouldn't be surprised, as they seem to lean in that direction. From the snaps to the faux xylophone stylings to the suspenseful main verses, this is definitely a sweet song. The easy hooks evoking the title make this even better.
"Crazy in Love" starts out as some plastic soul, owing a lot to 80s artists like Michael Jackson, but it turns into some kind of retro disco fusion during the chorus. There's a lot going on in this tune, and a lot to love. There's autotune, smooth falsetto in the pre-chorus which makes it to the stomping chorus. Toss in raps, repetition and stir to taste. This can probably be termed the club banger of the disc. And it works extremely well.
The other two songs are inaccessible to me (as they're on the CD), but "Check-In" should be familiar to anyone who owns 'Mixtape,' while "WHO" has previously only been available to concertgoers. The collection overall is a pretty decent piece of pop, and I wonder if it's a taste of things to come. I like the techno influences on here, and how they seamlessly blend with the R&B sounds. 'Al1" should make Carats happy, and the evolving sound might just attract new fans.
Directly and boldly defying the "boys in a box" trope, Seventeen take a trip across the water to sunny Southern California. They hang around buildings, on busy streets, even dancing on the beach. There are a few interior shots, but they don't interrupt the flow.
Every motion seems to indicate that they are lonely and in pain. The individual shots see them running, moping, whirling, all with a purpose. The purpose is to let you know they miss the girl, and now are trying hard to bury the pain. This is extremely well done, and you can even see the artistry with the sound off.
The dancing starts out a little lackluster, but quickly builds in intensity and power, as they go through the choreo. They kill it, as they always do, with hops, sweeping motions, and moves that more resemble a ballet at times. Seventeen has always worked hard on their dancing, as many of their MVs prove. It pays off here.
The wardrobe is interesting, considering the locations. You'd expect long sleeves in SoCal would be a no-go, but they rock the outfits. There are only a couple scenes where you see bare arms, they wear the standard assortment of clothing that you'd expect to see IRL.
This MV is pretty artistic, despite what it might lack in terms of plot or coherent narrative. The slo-mo shots are well done and mesh well with the music evoking the lovelorn feels. Yeah, this music video was fun to watch and gets my stamp of approval.
MV Score: 8.3
Album Score: 8