When Fuse spoke with SHINee ahead of their headlining set at KCON 2016 Los Angeles, member Taemin said, "Every time we come out with a new album, we feel like we introduce something very new. It will be just like that this time." Less than two months after that interview, we're happy to report the guys have done just that with a new retro sound and look for their 1 of 1 album.
As if New Kids on the Block, New Edition or, heck, even H.O.T, brought their sound straight in to 2016's technology, "1 of 1" is classic, old-school boy band sound. From the vintage drum-machine opening to the subtle synthesizers and even a couple DJ record scratches, the throwback feel is palpable while the guys harmonize about how the female listener is "1 of 1, girl." One could even say the band further upped the classic boy-band ante with their focus on singing directly to the listener and using the "you" pronoun a la The Beatles' early material ("From Me to You," "She Loves You," "I Wanna Hold Your Hand").
The accompanying music video also keeps up the retro theme with a technicolor scheme that recalls the bold aesthetic of the '30s and '40s. While the colors are striking it does feel very similar to videos from other artists under the band's label SM Entertainment, including Red Velvet's "Dumb Dumb" and even the video "She Is," by SHINee member Jonghyun. Also, sadly and awkwardly, member Onew appeared to have injured himself at the time of the video shoot, leaving only four members to do the group choreography, which is unfortunate as SHINee has some of the most impressive dance moves and would leave any new or curious viewer confused. It isn't the first time SHINee has a had a member sit out for scenes for a video (Jonghyun wasn't in the "Why So Serious?" video), but luckily Onew did appear in other scenes.
What does stand out about the video and deserves applause are the atypical portrayals of beauty. From the female co-stars rock messy hairstyles, dark lipsticks and eyeliners, and super-casual clothes, to the guys' offbeat hair colors (shoutout to Minho's turquoise-gray dye) and outfits, nothing is standard "K-pop" here, visually. It's actually a very exciting move given how SM is typically known for focusing on beauty and glossy visuals with their artists so it's a welcome change up for the veteran act.
"1 of 1" is the title track to SHINee's fifth full-length album that comes with the band's expected blend of dance and R&B tunes, but feels enhanced to a new level of sophisticated that was somewhat missing from the deeper cuts in 2015 album Odd. Standouts include the late-summer scorching EDM jam "Feel Good," the sensual alt-R&B gem "Don't Stop," the synth-funk hybrid "Lipstick," and "Shift," which feels like a 2.0 version to 2015 SHINee single "View."