Despite debuting late in the year and releasing only one mini album to their name, ATEEZ wound up as one of my favorite rookies of 2018. Their hard hip-hop style isn’t usually to my taste, but Treasure’s wall-of-sound vocals and towering arrangement quickly won me over. Better yet, the group proved that they were capable of a variety of moods on the first part in their Treasure series of mini albums. Less than three months later, the sequel is already upon us. And, it’s heralded by new title track Say My Name.
Lofty expectations are a tricky thing, as they often sabotage perfectly solid releases. Say My Name doesn’t feel as memorable or accomplished as Treasure. It would be tempting to call it a disappointment, but I don’t think I’m ready to go that far. Sure, the melody isn’t nearly as interesting. The hook rests too heavily on a gruffly-slurred repetition of the title with too much tough guy posturing thrown in. The verses don’t offer much in the way of experimentation either. They’re high-intensity hip-hop, the likes of which we’ve heard many times before.
Yet, Say My Name preserves the spark that made ATEEZ such an exciting prospect last October. It may not ignite into a fully formed flame, but the impressive pre-chorus and apocalyptic instrumental offer enough connective tissue to keep the group’s potential alive. They’ve found a dynamite trio of composers in LEEZ, Eden and Buddy, who rough up their sound in truly invigorating ways. And perhaps most importantly, the group is home to some refreshingly unique vocal tones, which give the more cliched elements of their sound new life. Treasure and Pirate King may still reign supreme, but I’m eager to see where ATEEZ heads next.