The legends are back. Finally! After four years Shinhwa is back with a new full length album. Their album “The Return” was released on March 23rd.
As a six member group, Shinhwa debuted back on March 24th, 1998. They are the longest lasting boy group in the history of KPop. For the last four years, their fans, Changjos, have waited patiently while members served their military duties. With the last member, Lee Min Woo, finishing up his service in February, fans eagerly awaited this album.
Track Break Down –
- On The Road – A faster paced ballad with awesome vocals. The use of finger symbols adds as nice touch and sets it apart from the other songs out lately. Also with a guitar heavy background music it gives off a very indie feel. The repeating word of “hello” in the chorus is great to, as this song starts off Shinhwa’s first hello back to their fans. Downside – the song gives off the feeling of being a bit long. However, I doubt true changjos are going to feel that way after 4 years of waiting.
- Hurts – An unbelievably breathtaking song. With the feel of a R&B song, this song is perfect for their mature voices. The rhythm and pace of the song is perfect and will have even the harshest of critics riding the beats with this. The rap is probably the best part, after the hook and chorus. The bridge is also delivered in incredible fashion. Downside – There are none? Minor one I guess is the fact that the word “hurts” often sounds like “burns.” Either word works and is amazing though. So no complaint here!
- Venus – The title song from the album! What a song to come back with!! A dance beat that makes you want to move. The very cool dubstep type of mixing on the song makes it very trendy with the current electronic sound reverberating through the genre. This song shows that they can hang with the current idols of the day. Downside – Sometimes the rap gets drowned by the mixing and the overlaying hook.
- Red Carpet – Keeping in with the last song, this is a very electronic club type song. The background music can be found in any club anywhere. The rap part however, breaks out a new one and focuses the attention on back on the singers. Robot effects also add a cool effect to the voice. Downside – Unlike Venus this song’s hook isn’t as catchy, and it pales in comparison overall to Venus. Bad placement on the album. If it had been placed not directly after Venus it would not stick out so bad.
- Move With Me – A funky feel going back old school with this jam. The slick vocals sang in a very sensual way makes the listener catch the groovy jam. The hook “just move with me” will have fans clamoring to do just that. The old school feel of the rap brings back amazing memories of my teen years. Again the rap is definitely the highlight, along with the hook. Downside – Those who never experienced music when this was the current trend may find it dated and out of style. My advice – Youngster sit down and be educated!
- Let It Go – A faster tempo song kind of reminiscent of the first song. However this time, piano/keyboard takes the front seat instead of guitar. The latter is brought in after the first versus. The vocals are stunning in the chorus. Downside – I really have no complaints. I feel like this is a take it leave it song. I like it, but it does come across as a little more vanilla than the rest.
- Stay – And we are back to the electro club feel. This one has a hyperspeed back beat that will get your heart on pace with this song. The chorus is funky and catches you off guard. This feels very retro and pop-py! It’s a feel good song. The bridge is a standout as its super sweet and fits perfectly. Downside – It’s sweet and all, but again no wow factor in this song.
- Welcome – Is that synthesized accordion? A very funky song that uses very cool effects on this dance beat. The first words are talking about “come to me.” I am down for any song that calls to me, literally. The song is a funky fresh spin on the normal club dance songs! I love the use of the English. It will appeal more to international fans that way. Downside – The feel is very different from the trend right now. This is not bad. It just means that it may not stand up against other songs that are in the current craze.
- Be My Love – Um…disco? Yes, Shinhwa just went there. Vocals shine in this song though. The more mature vocals are front in center in this diddy. “Just be my lover” is so corny, but so endearing too. I grinned at the “be my l-o-v-e” too! Downside – Retro is out right now, and it’s kind of cheesy. BUT this is one of those aww it’s so squishy moments!
- Re-Love – They slow things back down with this number. This is again tugs the heart with perfect harmonies and amazing vocals. This song actually made me think of Big Bang’s older ballady songs. Raps are placed strategically and make it a complete work of art. Downside – Again the length feels a bit bulky.
- Breathin’ – Is that water I hear? The quietness of the verses gives way to a powerfully delivered chorus. It builds and builds until the chorus, “just keep breathin’.” It resonates and is a very pretty song. Awesome ending to the album with such a moving song. Downside – As is my biggest complaint with some songs, the length is a bit long. Also the rap is drowned a little with the other vocals and the background vocals.
Three Word Review: Absolutely Freaking Awesome!
Okay so I will be the first to say, I had no idea what Shinhwa was about. I had never listened to a single song of theirs. I knew Andy and Jun Jin from We Got Married only. I knew Eric from various acting things, while the others I knew nothing (and still know next to nothing) about. Granted, I knew Shinhwa was and is considered legends in the industry for a reason. Still I went into this skeptical. I had heard a few of the older groups’ songs and was not into them. Still I dove in and listened to the whole album. Boy was I not ready for that!
This album is, in short, amazing! In long, it’s really amazing. The album starts you off at a comfortable pace with a faster paced ballad and gets you back into the listening mood. Then they hit you with a doozy of a ballad, one that makes you go, “So this is what everyone was talking about.” However, that’s not what everyone was talking about, because wham! They hit you with “Venus,” their title song. Suddenly you understand their popularity back in the day, and things start clicking. You are firing on all cylinders, and the tempo of the album keeps you right there ready with “Red Carpet.” “Move with Me” get you all mixed up again with its funky old school R&B with throw back hip hop groove. Shinhwa clearly knows you can only take so much so they drop back down with a moderately paced ballad that has you swaying with them. One song must be enough, because after that, you are whisked back into the club scene with “Stay” and its hyperspeed music and sticky sweetness. “Welcome” brings back the funk and the funky keeping you smiling with the not-so-normal backbeats. Need a curve ball out of left field? Well Shinhwa has you covered. Up next is the disco-esque “Be My Love.” Shinhwa makes it look good with their cutesy and amazing vocals. “Re-Love” comes back with a much needed wind down. As you have been going nonstop with this album this song soothes with its perfect harmonies and again amazing vocals. Lastly they finish you off and put the competition to bed with their awe-inspiring water-effects-including last track, “Breathin’.”
As you can tell, I loved the album. I am so glad I invested all that it took to get to this new understanding. However, with love doesn’t come blindness in this case. I see the flaws in this album clearly. For me, the ballads, with the notable exception of “Hurts,” tend to be overly long. I like them, but I feel I would love them more if they were a tad bit shorter instead of droning on. The placement of “Red Carpet” is also a nitpick problem I have. Placing it right after “Venus” shows off all the flaws of this jam. It’s a good song, but it is lackluster next to its predecessor. Also, I have a problem with the rap portions being drowned out by the overly loud background music in some songs. I want to hear those parts just as much as the amazing chorus and hooks. Don’t deprive me!!
In closing, I suggest everyone to listen and love it!
Note: “Hurts” is also being promoted as a title song.
Lea previously reviewed miss A's TOUCH.