The wait is over, SHINee’s back with their seventh full-length album, Don’t Call Me, a bombast of pulsing pop and thumping grooves. For three years fans have been patiently waiting through the members’ mandatory military enlistments, and across the tight nine-track journey SHINee quickly makes up for any lost time. Don’t Call Me finds the Princes of K-pop at their most assuredness yet, confident and commanding, and doing it in grand style. Thirteen years into their career and these K-pop veterans are at the top of their game, tackling songs of varying genres, pushing their vocals to new heights, and burning up the stage with intricate choreography worthy of a group completely in sync. If The Story of Light was SHINee’s next step in the evolution of their sound, Don’t Call Me is the affirmation, solidifying their crown as a group unconstrained by musical trends, pioneers of the totally unexpected.
Title track “Don’t Call Me” is an assertive hip-hip number, featuring a heavy beat and deliciously syncopated rhythm. The spoken word intro wards off any unwanted callers while the verses drip with an unchecked swagger. I especially like the melodic, piano-driven pre-chorus that offers a moment of respite before ascending into a repetitious hook that hits like a cannon volley. The dramatic refrain exudes a cavalcade of power in which SHINee’s vocals are nimbly up to the task, enveloping the song with a stormy and brewing passion. But it’s not all theatrics as the group excels at imbibing the track with a campy playfulness throughout, never taking themselves too seriously. Between the vibrant styling in the video and lighthearted antics in their live stages, “Don’t Call Me” positions SHINee as a group who knows what their fans want and aren’t afraid of having a little fun to boot.
As one of their promoted B-sides, “Heart Attack” is a reversely upbeat dance number reminiscent of SHINee’s signature sound. It’s quick moving chorus glides over the bright and bouncy synths, propelled by the guys’ harmonic “oohs,” while the verses alternate between their high and low registers backed by a sparse but thumping bassline. As far as pop songs go, it’s downright irresistible, and the springy choreography matches the mood proving the group is as light on their feet as ever. Next is “Marry You,” a midtempo R&B dream, first previewed during SHINee’s online comeback special. The studio version comes adorned with all the bells and whistles down from the handclaps, to the ‘90s synth lines, all the way to the classical organ chords. The boys’ pitch-perfect falsettos conjure images of an ideal wedding proposal, their mature vocal delivery on full display. Sentimental without being saccharine, “Marry You” hits all the right notes.
“CODE” is a futuristic dance track accompanied by an electrically charged bassline. It’s mysterious and rhythmic verse quickly gives way to a rousing, all-hands-on-deck chorus that belts ‘Let’s crack the code!’ in radiant fervor. The dance break during the live stages only heightens the excitement as SHINee powers through a dynamic routine with nimble finesse. The energy keeps crackling as we segue into “I Really Want You,” a fun pop song accented with electric guitar strums and bombastic, brassy horns. Its retro beat pairs perfectly with SHINee’s immaculate vocals, soaring through the chorus by leaps and bounds, while the rapped bridge fits in squarely like a glove. A personal favorite, “Kiss Kiss” is a follow-up disco-tinged jam, laid back and wholly atmospheric. The staccato chorus singing ‘Eyes, nose, lips’ is instantly memorable, while the ‘ooh ahs’ and high note ad libs adorn the tune with a sort of sonic elegance.
Another standout for me would have to be the Caribbean hued “Body Rhythm,” which pulls you to the dancefloor with its hypnotic hook. The melody ebbs and flows to the beat while the clever chorus repeats its refrain at different points before weaving together sinuously for an evocative climax to remember. Follow up track “Attention” continues the endless groove with its slice of city pop flavor. The whistle loop will have your head bopping to and fro while SHINee’s delectable falsettos once again guide the chorus with impressive ease. Their restrained vocals throughout the song give it a vibe that’s both calming and enticing, their notes floating on a breezy bed of clouds. Final song “Kind” starts off with an interesting processed and layered vocal before segueing into a piano-driven beat. A mid-tempo ballad, its beautiful melody is only further augmented by SHINee’s emotive and pristine voices. The impressive belts at the end intersect for maximum effect, sure to touch the hearts of anyone listening, ending the album on a most stirring note.
Polished and full sounding, Don’t Call Me is a much-welcomed addition to SHINee’s already rich discography. A catalog of upbeat tunes with plenty of fresh and energizing sounds for the group to explore and firmly put their stamp on. Their vocals are as sharp as ever, harnessing a fluid emotion throughout the album with an impressive ease. Each member hones their distinct flavor so richly, playing off one another and bringing this bouquet of songs to life. Fans are sure to have enjoyed their bounty of live stages too, as their teamwork is simply impeccable to watch. It’s no wonder they’ve taken home four music show wins so far during promotion. We may have waited a good while on the line for SHINee to get back to us, but Don’t Call Me was the perfect answer we needed to hear.
SHINee - The 7th album ‘Don’t Call Me’ comes with nine tracks and is available in Photobook Version and Jewel Case Version. Photobook Version includes a photobook, folded poster, folded lyrics card, post card, photo card and unfolded poster. Additionally, the FAKE REALITY Ver. includes a phone card, while the REALITY Ver. comes with a film tray. Jewel Case Version has four member covers to choose from, each containing a booklet, lyrics paper, AR photo card, AR clip card and poster. Pre-Order your copy today at SM Global Shop and be sure to check out the rest of the SHINee collection too. Don’t wait, SHINee is calling!