When U-know debuted as soloist in 2019 with the fantastic Follow, I was absolutely thrilled by its classic, near robotic soundscape. And much of the album matched the strength of its lead single. So when I heard that his new project would be centered around the idea of film, I was very excited. It promised a sense of theatricality and if anything, lead single Thank U delivers on that front with an added sense of panache.
I know this song came out around three days ago but for some reason I felt it better to sit on it and see how my opinion developed over a few days. And I’m glad I did that because It allowed me to identify alot of things that I didn’t initially think I loved and other aspects that didn’t age nearly as well as I would have expected. But I think that my overall opinion is the same as what it was on first listen. And that is a rather positive one.
For those of us familiar with late 2000’s and early 2010’s K-pop, Thank U‘s heavy percussive groove shouldn’t be anything new. It’s a sound that defined much of that era and was especially prevalent during TVXQ’s initial work as a duo, most notably the excellent Keep Your Head Down. And that’s probably why the track feels so refreshing in 2021. There’s a near timeless atmosphere that surrounds the track and while the “Thank you for this, thank you for like” hook might catch some people off guard with its rather oddly phrased lyrics, it’s great to see a track that tries to be cinematic without taking itself completely seriously. Something that TVXQ know how to do all too well.
I also adore Yunho’s performance here, which feels more like a series of monologues than a vocal performance. I’m usually less enthused with tracks that employ a more “sing-talk” structure but there are instances where it works wonders and Thank U is one of those. The shouting that appears periodically is also a great callback to previous TVXQ works and gives an already texturally impressive track a great sense of variety that complements the tracks more unorthodox delivery. And that’s why I think that despite its rather streamlined instrumental structure, Thank U never gets boring.
Final Rating: 8.5 / 10