SM Entertainment has promised a second half of the year that sees a return of some of its biggest legacy artists. That kicks off with the tenth anniversary comeback of Girls’ Generation. It’s been two years since the girls’ last album, and this extended wait has built up plenty of anticipation. As enjoyable as the group’s 2015 singles were, it felt as if they all relied on a sense of novelty. What the girls needed was a strong, straight-up dance track to reaffirm their rightful place as veterans of the k-pop landscape. All Night is that and more, providing the most concentrated burst of dance pop smarts the group has given us in years.
There’s no pussyfooting around here. No gimmicks or cheesy point moves or bending to trends. Instead, All Night bumps to a sticky bassline drenched in retro synths and rhythm guitar. This excellent instrumental veers heavily towards nostalgia, but always maintains a modern edge that gives the track a sleek, effortlessly cool appeal. The production ebbs and flows with the needs of the song, growing stronger and more layered with each repetition of the chorus. This sense of dynamic fluidity gives All Night the kind of drive and narrative that many songs in this genre lack. We get a true climax during the final chorus, where the instrumental enlists all of its tricks to create an invigorating sense of release.
The girls themselves have rarely sounded as world-conquering as they do here. Minus the cloying “I like to party” exclamation that opens the track, the performances are on fire. This isn’t cute “Gee” era Girls’ Generation. This is the group digging in and attacking the chorus with an unbridled charisma that truly lays down the gauntlet for all the younger groups they’ve inspired. It’s everything a tenth anniversary comeback should be.