SHINee are one of those groups that never fail to amaze me. Not only are they unbeatable together but are equally as potent by themselves. Every single member, including the late, great, Jonghyun are bonafide superstars and incredibly ripe for solo material. Key demonstrated his prowess with last years immense Bad Love and Taemin’s consistent output came to a head with 2020’s outstanding Criminal. Leader and main vocalist ONEW on the other hand has had little to showcase his immense talent apart from 2018’s strong, if rather unexciting ballad, Blue. As such, it’s great to see new single Dice switch it up bit and inject a healthy dose of breezy funk into his discography.
Right from its opening minutes, you know that Dice is going to be a fun time. The instantly gripping bouncy bass driven backline is what funk dreams are made of, supported by an ascending synth line that pokes its head in and out every few seconds. It’s the perfect companion to ONEW’s airy vocals, which imbue the track with a sense of freewheeling, summertime energy that just works wonders. Many tracks have adopted a retro funk approach this past year but few feel as notably buoyant. It’s simple but not one note, pulsing by with an assured sense of drive, one that manages to hit those euphoric moments at just the right points whilst still pulling back when the track needs it to.
But despite the great production that lines much of Dice, I think the main thing that holds it back is actually Onew’s performance. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the guy and he has one of my favourite all time voices but I really wish his performance wasn’t so held back in this. I understand the approach and the lightness in his delivery works really well for the kind of road trip, summery vibe he’s going for but the melody feels like it’s screaming for a more powerful performance. And given his performance in tracks like last years Atlantis and I Really Want You, it’s pretty obvious that he’s still got it. And I feel like a deeper performance, even in the climactic chorus (Taemin style) would have sent this soaring. But like, it’s still an upbeat Onew song. Of course I’ll like it.
Final Rating: 8.5 / 10