A SuperM comeback has been almost imminent for some time now. After gracing us with last years divisive but surprisingly great Jopping, the SM super group have been undertaking personal activities with either their groups or own solo ventures. But without much teasing at all, news dropped that the group were coming back with the release of their first full length album. At 15 tracks long, ‘Super One’ promises to be one hell of a ride and to add further promotion, the group are unveiling pre-release single 100. So after nearly a year long wait does it live up to the hype?
In essence 100, feels like the perfect sequel to their incredible debut although some of the same charms that made that song so great feel a little stale here. I’ll start with the hook which while underlined by an incredibly addicting and potent electrothrob is pretty much devoid of any real melody. And while I do love me some high energy instrumentals, much of 100‘s hook feels like a let down. The “Can’t slow down” hook especially feels tacked on in the worst way possible and comes pretty close to taking me out of the song completely. After than gorgeous pre-chorus 100 was pretty much begging to explode into a large cathartic hook and unfortunately it wasn’t to be.
But apart from that small misstep, the rest of 100 is honestly pretty incredible. The production here is fantastic and is an example of Yoo Young-Jin going absolutely crazy. The distorted guitars and larger than life vocal work heavily recalls the glory days of TVXQ! and if there is ever a sound you would want to pull from, this is the one. The entire thing feels incredibly grand, taking its rambunctious larger than life energy and compressing it into three and a half minutes of aggressive pop goodness. The dirty electro buzz sound that underlies much of the tracks verses feels like a fantastic mix of the old and new; combining the more recent experimental works by groups like NCT and Red Velvet with the more classic upbeat dance sounds of 2013/14 SHINee and F(x). It’s the “SM sound” at its most concentrated and in 2020 feels practically revolutionary. This is a wonderfully refreshing approach and I love that Super M are pursuing such a uniquely Korean sound even within the Western market.
But what really helps make 100 truly pop are the performances. Taeyong, Lucas, Kai and Mark sound incredible, delivering sticky rap verse after sticky rap verse and imbuing the more hip hop infused moments of 100 with incredible charisma. Unfortunately we don’t get something as iconic as Mark’s “Oh, you think ya big, boy, throwing three stacks?” but I mean few things are. Although “Top notch hit the spot like a jackpot” is a close contender. But if Jopping gave us a little preview of what the Taemin, Ten, Baekhyun vocal trio were capable of, then 100 showed us their full potential. The bridge absolutely explodes as Baekhyun kills it with some explosive vocal fireworks. And the brief, near psychedelic breakdown that follows and ultimately leads us into the climactic chorus is just the icing on the cake.
And while this kind of over the top song construction can be pretty divisive (as we have seen already), this is something I can easily get on board with. It may not be as instantly enthralling as their debut but even with that rather lack lustre chorus, 100 is a success.
Final Rating: 8.5 / 10
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