Review

SHINee Embrace Old & New Sounds on 'Odd': Track-by-Track Review

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Despite initially debuting with a R&B sound, SHINee is arguably most exciting when experimenting -- like when they mashed two album tracks together to promote the "hybrid remix" single "Sherlock" in 2012 or added a pop sentiment to glitchy, industrial EDM on 2013's "Everybody." For their first release in more than a year, the boy band seems to be aiming for a harmonious blend with vibe of their debut single while still pushing the sonic envelope in K-pop -- namely with their promoted single "View" (more on that later) -- that only stumbles when the experimentation gets too bizarre to the point of sonic displeasure or stays too safe.

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Which songs on Odd are the most worthy of replays? Check out our track-by-track take on SHINee's latest.

1. Odd Eye - To kick things off, we return to the R&B side of SHINee with feathery vocals, tight harmonies and member Onew's falsetto howls acting a centerpiece to this grooving opener. A laid back, mature, somewhat sensual mood is created from the Jonghyun-penned "Odd Eye," setting the scene for a more mature SHINee.

4. Romance - A curious musical mash of dance, funk and rock that blends "Blurred Line"-esque cowbells with grungy, electric guitar riffs. The highlight is its doo-woppy hook that finishes off each chorus. It's disjointed, but somehow melds well enough together for a solid album cut.

5. Trigger - One of the most hip-hop-inspired tracks on Odd, the cut opens with a swaggering beat with an ominous chant and sitar thrown on top. A total departure from the light and airy mood created by the four previous tracks, "Trigger" boasts aggressive vocals and a stabby instrumental breakdown of icy synths that could soundtrack an after-hours, underground DJ set.

7. An Ode to You - A string-focused ballad that shows off lovely falsetto notes from the outfit, but even after "Farewell My Love" slowed down the tempo, it's a mood killer. Towards the end, unnecessary electric guitar riffs are added to the mix that soils the pure production.

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8. Alive - In case the listener was falling asleep, "Alive" opens with crackling beats for the LP's other hip-hop banger. Key and Minho steal the spotlight here, sounding fiercer-than-ever as they trade off rap verses on the bridge.

11. An Encore - Sounding like a middle ground between "Farewell My Love" and "An Ode to You," the album closer is a surging ballad focused on the guys' strong vocals and gooey harmonies. Even if it sounds like nearly every other uplifting ballad one's heard before, it feels like a fitting finish to the album. "An Encore" also leaves a lasting impression that SHINee are one of those bands that feel like a collective, cohesive unit instead of five separate singers placed together -- a point that's tough to reach with male vocal groups, but SHINee's proven they're still raring to push boundaries and they'll do it best together.

SHINee - Odd Album Review
3.5 STARS