You can’t imagine the surge of excitement that filled me when I heard the kings, perhaps even gods, of k-pop were returning to the stage. Now before I go any further I have to say that this blog is going to be totally biased. The truth is, I’ve been listening to 신화 (Shinhwa) since I was a kid and completely fell in love with their charismatic charm, enticing dancing and golden voices. They pulled me down the rabbit hole of k-pop, inspired my current dance career and I’ve never looked back.
So, after a four year hiatus (due to military service) the ever so handsome and talented men of 신화 (Shinhwa) are back just in time to celebrate their 14th anniversary. They currently stand as the longest running K-pop group and it’s certainly no wonder why. This group has managed to stand strong throughout the years, only proving the deserving success of true talent.
The March 23rd release of their 10th album, appropriately entitled “The Return,” highlights the groups ability to maintain their unique style and original sound, while still creating fresh new tracks. This time they are jumping on the folkloric bandwagon with a sexy vampire concept. The album itself features a lot of modern musical technology keeping it trendy and modern, but there is no doubt that this is indeed a Shinhwa album. The songs are catchy and make me think of their previous albums, not in a repetitive way, but rather a familiar reminiscent way.
What better way to make a comeback than with a title song like “Venus.” The song is definitely one to get you out of your seat and onto the dance floor. It has a light electronic dance feel to it, which keeps it standing strong against today’s k-pop teens and of course a catchy hook that you won’t be able to get out of you head. “Red Carpet” is actually one of my favorites. It is hands down a club track. It has an electronic feel that is faster, heavier and sharper than “Venus.” It had a pretty big impression on me and I believe I will find myself choreographing a dance for it very soon. “Hurts” is an amazing R&B track with a beautiful piano score. The rhythm and harmony flow like silk over the instrumentals. Whether you know Korean or not, I promise you will definitely feel something when you hear it. “Move With Me” is like a throwback to late 90s k-pop and even sounds a bit like some of 비’s (Rain’s) old stuff. It really brings back memories for me, but may seem a bit outdated for younger crowds or fans new to the k-pop scene. I won’t review every track, but each one is unique and undoubtably worth a listen…or two or three.
From the beginning to the end, the album is absolutely consuming. It’s mature, sexy and addictive. It is obvious that a lot of work and effort went into it and it was not merely just thrown together. The vocals are in a word exquisite. While there are so many talented musicians out here in Korea, I don’t think any k-pop group could hold a candle to the sensational voices of these six men. I can’t think of anything negative to say about this album, except that it might have ruined every other k-pop album for me. But, don’t take my word for it, go and have a listen for yourself and don’t forget to support the artists and buy the album!