Seventeen have settled into a pattern that alternates between the upbeat pop of their past and an emotional brand of tempo-shifting EDM. And while I will always be drawn more strongly to their funkier sound, Seventeen are one of the few k-pop acts who have managed to put their own signature stamp on this ultra-trendy genre. Don’t Wanna Cry became one of 2017’s biggest growers, ending up in my top five songs of the year. New single Thanks (고맙다) is a continuation of that success, pulling the best elements from EDM but incorporating the explosive emotion that Seventeen delivers so well.
While past EDM attempts leaned heavily on Western trends, Thanks bursts out of the gate with a more idiosyncratic charm. The opening synth line is a stunner, giving the track a touch of 80’s influence. This same loop wraps itself around the entire instrumental and becomes the focus of the drop that makes up Thanks‘ centerpiece. Mixing modern and retro has become one of Seventeen’s trademarks, and these kind of touches help to offset the production’s more expected moments. There’s a brilliant sense of dynamics at play, ensuring that the song never stays in one mode for too long. The constant tempo shifts could have become tiresome in less-skilled hands, but everything here ties together incredibly well. I’m not sure there’s a moment as entrancing as Don’t Wanna Cry‘s drum-filled build, but Thanks‘ never-ending series of musical peaks lends the song an explosive sense of catharsis.
Thanks isn’t a melodic powerhouse, utilizing its massive drop in place of a fully fleshed-out chorus. Usually, this would be a point of contention. I tend to prefer a more classic song structure that doesn’t require its instrumental to do so much of the heavy lifting. But again, Seventeen just have a way of pulling this sort of thing off. This is largely due to their powerhouse roster of vocalists, whose robust tones can easily compete with scene-stealing production. The guys perform the hell out of the track, belting it out as if their lives depended on it. That’s more than enough to leap-frog over any issues I might have with the EDM genre as a whole.