Two years after their last release, Super Junior dropped their eighth studio album Play today (Nov. 6)
Featuring an overall funky retropop vibe, the new album is fronted by the vibrant swing-infused dance track “Black Suit” and the sentimental ballad “One More Chance,” which was released last week as a pre-release promotional track. The 10-track Play is the band’s first album since their 10th anniversary Devil and its reissue Magic in 2015.
Though they may be down a few key vocalists, “Black Suit” proves that the aging group can still pull off a powerful K-pop dance track. The song is both dynamic and playful, two mainstays of Super Junior’s identity, in its electro swing vibe. Layering vocals over propulsive beats, the immensely-danceable chorus soars as the titular refrain is accompanied by pulsating brass instrumentals.
With a comically over-the-top music video that poises the band members as staff and guests at an auction where bedlam ensues after the titular “Black Suit” is stolen mid-sale, the single and music video combo revels in Super Junior’s legacy as an act that is both entertaining to watch and able to pull off an addictive dance sound.
In their 12th year, Super Junior has aged gracefully to maintain a space in the youthful K-pop industry, but the cracks of time show particularly with this album’s promotions. Once a 13-member act, with an additional pair who join in primarily for Chinese-language promotions, Play features the vocals of only eight Super Junior members, after absences due to several men being MIA with personal issues, or serving in South Korea’s military in accordance with the country’s mandatory draft.
As a result, only six members are promoting the album formally: Leeteuk (Park Jungsoo), Kim Heechul, Yesung (Kim Junghoon), Lee Donghae, Shindong (Shin Donghee), and Eunhyuk (Lee Hyukjae). Vocals belonging to Cho Kyuhyun and Choi Siwon can also be heard on the album, though the former is fulfilling his mandatory service while the latter is sitting out Play’s public appearances due to being embroiled in controversy, following the death of a neighbor after being bitten by the Choi family dog.
Additionally, the team’s choreography will be further diminished, as Kim will only participate minimally in the dance for “Black Suit,” due to chronic pain resulting from injuries sustained in a car accident over a decade ago.
But Super Junior, the self-dubbed “Last Men Standing” of the K-pop industry, still pull off their brand of feel-good pop despite the missing members. Lacking Cho and Kim Ryeowook, two of the group’s primary vocalists, Play is one of the group’s most high-spirited albums. With old school elements propelling many of the songs, like the “24K Magic”-esque funk of “Scene Stealer” and the new jack swing of “Spin Up!,” Play disregards the trends of the day in favor of a good time. And hidden within some of the softer tracks are nods to the group’s long-lived career: The final track “I Do” contains a line that mirrors, and responds to, the band’s 2007 confessional “Marry U.”
Known for their high-intensity dance songs with eye-catching choreography, the group, which was formed in 2005 to be a rotational team, with members rotating in and out, became leaders of K-pop’s global popularity in the late ‘00s and early ‘10s, when “Sorry Sorry” became one of Korea’s biggest hits of 2009.
Watch the music video for Super Junior’s “Black Suit” here: