K-POP / REVIEWS

[Review] [Album] SHINee – Chapter 1 ‘Dream Girl – The Misconceptions of You’

Shinee_dream girl

written by: McRoth
Artist/Album: SHINee – Chapter 1 ‘Dream Girl – The Misconceptions of You’
Genre: Dance-Pop
Release Date: February 19, 2013

If there is ever a time when the general Korean pop fandom is prone to ape shit shenanigans, it’s when groups are at their most active, and that’s generally when they’re promoting new albums of sorts. When SHINeeJonghyun, Key, Minho, Onew, and Taemin – released ‘Lucifer‘ in 2010, I can still remember, in vivid detail mind you, how insane things turned among internet communities. To this day, my ‘Lucifer’ album review remains one of the most popular posts on my site, along with basically every other SHINee related thing I’ve written. Even last year, SHINee’s ‘Sherlock‘ era generated respectable amounts of jizz and with good reason.

However, this year has been different, for readers and myself. Either the adrenaline rush of teasing has been tapped clean, maybe everyone is celebrating in very different ways now, or perhaps it’s just not great (reasonable culprit) but SHINee’s 2013 album, Chapter 1 ‘Dream Girl – The Misconceptions of You’ hasn’t quite left as lasting an impression as I had envisioned.

That’s not to say that they’ve not been hitting it big on charts and things, because they certainly have, who cares, but this album has had a non-effect on me that took me time to come to terms with, especially knowing how much I absolutely adore what this group does with music.

What I’m really trying to say is that ‘The Misconceptions of You’ doesn’t provide much to admire, and I don’t quite know what to do with myself about it.

On one hand, the album brings out the better aspects of the musical direction SM Entertainment veered SHINee in last year with “Sherlock”, in that it is incredibly theatrical with a hint of funk. This is made obvious by the intentional crossover intro bit of “Spoiler“, identical to the first measures of “Sherlock”, which eventually jumps into newer territory in the verses. It’s a sinister side to SHINee that we’ve heard before (think “Obsession“) but with a brighter and far more cluttered production value. It isn’t as haunting, even with its reverse bells and whistles, though there’s something to be said about SM knowing how well Jonghyun sounds on songs with elements of new jack swing, which happens all up in this.

The better showman of the continued theatrics is lead single “Dream Girl“, with its fizzy 70s funk instrumental and a dance-floor groove that is admittedly super enjoyable. Each member sounds pretty great, though these days it’s getting harder to distinguish between Jonghyun and Teamin, as their singing techniques have become alarmingly similar. But there is always Onew to depend on, who’s always excellent at everything.

The song is a better lead single than “Sherlock” if for nothing else how crisp and perfectly accessible it is to our ears. It’s SM’s standard loudness, but also easy to vibe to and just K-Pop enough to forget that it was outsourced and probably derivative of another pop artist. The bassline is a particularly dope element on this one.

And “Beautiful“, too, is an essential moment on this EP, highlighting the quintessential grace of SHINee’s vocal delivery in a soft mid-tempo pop arrangement. The melodies float beautifully above a pulsating electronica instrumental that is quite similar to those utilized in excess by YG Entertainment idols.

Yet, even with these things in place, something about ‘Misconceptions of You’ doesn’t ring all that fresh or memorable. Its complete lack of fanfare while at the same time being incredibly loud is a sign of how much noise SM is capable of generating without resonating any actual meaning to it. “Hitchhiking” is a prime example of this, with its multitude of synths, perturbing vocal acrobatics, and lost hooks. It’s not an easy song to follow (which can easily be said about most songs on this album) and it’s an agitating segue between songs on such a tightly squeezed full-length listen.

Songs like “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Aside” aren’t challenging enough for what they are and deliver set-ups that aren’t new in Korean music or new on these voices, regardless of their high production value. “Aside” in particular is equal in mundaneness to obscure atmosphere-prone OST tracks you hear in Kdramas; they have their place in the world, but this isn’t it.

Where before SHINee gave reason to test out styles, in everything from up-tempo tracks to ballads, it feels less spontaneously intentional in ‘Misconceptions of You’ and a lot more focused on fleshing out this “funk” they’re in. Granted, it’s a plus to hear a SHINee album that feels inherently cohesive, whereas albums like ‘2009, Year of Us‘ were all over the map musically. These songs, if divvied up and unhinged from the others, are not bad songs at all, but its the overall generic feel to them under this umbrella that loses its effect on me.

There’s not a lot to fall in love with and there’s not a lot to think about. Worse yet, there’s a certain dispassionate air carried throughout Chapter 1 ‘Dream Girl – The Misconceptions of You’ that not only leaves me detached as a listener, but unmotivated to care.

==

Scorecard

Spoiler
.75
Dream Girl
.75
Hitchhiking
0
Punch Drunk Love
.75
Girls, Girls, Girls
.5
Aside
0
Points scale
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
Beautiful
.75
Dynamite
.75
Runway
0
Total Points
4.25

Points to stars conversion: [(4.25/9) x 5] + 0.25*

2.6/5


*there is a 0.25 bonus for every album. The logic is that, if every song were “pretty good”, it’s a 4-star album.

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7 thoughts on “[Review] [Album] SHINee – Chapter 1 ‘Dream Girl – The Misconceptions of You’

  1. i thought i was the only one having a hard time on distinguishing taemin and jonghyun’s vocals…
    there are times when i thought it was jonghyun’s part but when i saw the mv it was actually taemin… im proud of taemin

  2. I was impressed when I learned that ‘Spoiler’ is a song with all t song titles from chapter 1 and 2. It was pennd by Jonghyun himself. It really is a spoiler indeed just like he said “You didn’t even imagine about this spoiler”
    From SHINee what we knew, Dream Girl seem weak.
    It seem Shinee themself also know Dream girl isn’t something we hope from Shinee. This is from Korea Billboard interview with SHINee,

    -[Our last EP] “Sherlock” was musically well made, but it was hard to sing along. The strength of [new single] “Dream Girl” is that it has metro vibes
    and it’s easy to follow. “Chapter 2” will be released soon. This year, we are going to be releasing a lot of our music.

    *What drew you to “Dream Girl,” your latest single?
    -We found “Dream Girl” after searching for a song that is relatable and easy sing along to. SHINee’s musical color was incorporated in it, as well. I think we were able
    to try out many new things with our careers, because of our fans support. We know that we can’t be afraid of new challenges or we won’t gain anything.

    I would like to read your review on their Chapter 1 Why So Serious: The Misconception of Me.

  3. “The song is a better lead single than “Sherlock” if for nothing else how crisp and perfectly accessible it is to our ears. It’s SM’s standard loudness, but also easy to vibe to and just K-Pop enough to forget that it was outsourced and probably derivative of another pop artist. The bassline is a particularly dope element on this one.” Second this!

    hmm I’ve always felt SHINee is quite detached from their music.. i.e. most of the kpop industry.. because none of them really pick their repertoire nor are they formed to fit a particular vision for the length of their idol lives.

    Michelle

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