At times, SHINee’s long-awaited comeback album ‘Don’t Call Me’ showcased glimpses of the group’s distinctive musicality. Yet, that record was muddled with a polarising title track that detracted from the group’s overall identity, as this writer previously opined in a four-star review. But SHINee have finally found their sea legs with the three new songs on ‘Atlantis’, a repackaged version of ‘Don’t Call Me’.
Front and centre is the album’s new title track ‘Atlantis’, a powerful, larger-than-life slice of unadulterated funk-driven electropop that only SHINee can do justice to. It opens with a guitar riff that evokes f(x)’s ‘Rum Pum Pum Pum’ (or Stevie Nicks’ ‘Edge Of Seventeen’, take your pick) before diving headfirst into an absolutely gorgeous mix of synths and percussion. Couple that with soaring vocals from the boyband, and it’s love at first listen.
Then there’s the subtle, low-key ‘Area’. Co-written by member Minho, the song adds a much-needed personal touch to the record that was missing on the original tracklist. On the surface, it’s a straight-forward story about love lost, yet its lyrics could also be interpreted as a touching homage to SHINee’s late fifth member Jonghyun: “Your empty spot can’t be filled up / I’m stuck, back in that day, in the same area / Always in the same place, ooh yeah.”
Meanwhile, ‘Days And Years’ comes off as a more earnest, minimalist take on the group’s 2018 single ‘Countless’. It features a laid-back vibe that gives SHINee plenty of room to play around with their buttery harmonies, as well as a moment for Onew to shine with his warm falsetto. The chill production also comes as no surprise once you learn K-R&B singer-songwriter Colde had a hand in composing the track.
The three new songs aren’t just haphazardly tacked onto ‘Atlantis’, though – SHINee have revised the entire tracklist, which gives the album an improved overall flow. The most notable is the one-two punch of ‘Atlantis’ followed by ‘CØDE’, two quintessentially SHINee cuts that highlight the strength of their funk-driven electropop releases – shoutout to 2012’s ‘Dream Girl’ and 2015’s ‘Married To The Music’, as well as this album’s ‘I Really Want You’.
There’s also the emotional four-song crescendo from the heartbreaking loss on ‘Area’ to quiet acceptance on ‘Days And Years’. Sure, the previous title track ‘Don’t Call Me’ continues to stick out like a sore thumb on ‘Atlantis’ – although less so than on the original line-up – and lacklustre songs such as ‘Attention’ and ‘Kiss Kiss’ still remain, but the weight of the tracklist reshuffling combined with SHINee’s three new tracks go a long way to conceal these imperfections.
Deluxe editions, re-issues and repackaged versions of an album can often throw off the delicate balance of a body of work, introducing new songs that had initially been left on the cutting room floor for a reason. But this is clearly not the case with ‘Atlantis’ – instead, the Princes of K-pop add a final coat of lacquer to ‘Don’t Call Me’ with three exceptional new tunes that give it that much-needed sheen of perfection.
Release date: April 12
Record label: SM Entertainment