Before I get into my thoughts about Answer, I want to heap praise on ATEEZ’s Treasure series one last time. It’s been an incredible run, meticulously planned and artfully executed. The fact that their last album’s outro ended up being a teaser for Answer blows my mind, and the way that new release Action To Answer’s epilogue acts as a perfect bookend to Treasure‘s 2018 introduction feels so satisfying. This level of detail and continuity can only be achieved by having a consistent group of composers at the helm. That each and every song has been a total knockout is just the icing on the cake. Play these thirty-four tracks back-to-back and you have the closest we’ll get to a modern K-pop opera. That level of ambition is ridiculously appealing to a music nerd like me.
Answer itself is a highlight reel of everything that came before it, yet manages to point forward at the same time. At this point we’re all familiar with ATEEZ’s anthemic sound. Big vocal moments, hard-hitting hip-hop / EDM backbones, and that brilliant last-minute switch-up that gives their tracks a sense of growth and climax. Answer wastes no time in leveraging these strengths, opening with its central refrain before pulling back to the first verse rap. I love the backing vocals during this introduction. They give the song a slightly tribal appeal similar to Wave’s second verse.
Throughout their burgeoning career, ATEEZ have proven masters of the pre-chorus. Answer’s isn’t quite as galvanizing as some of their past work, but changes the song’s dynamic just enough to act as the perfect bridge into that immense chorus. This is followed by the kind of chanted refrain that often characterizes their sound. It’s even more bombastic here, just as any self-respecting finale should be.
Answer’s restrained second verse is its least effective element, and blunts some of the energy the track had been building. Fortunately, the song quickly roars back to life as we approach the mammoth bridge. Jongho’s resounding vocals are on full display here, powering an octave-shifting build to the final chorus. The melody changes here, acting as a cinematic culmination that sends Answer out on a high. This Treasure journey has concluded with a bang, raising expectations for future series. At this point, it feels that ATEEZ’s only limitation is their own ambition. And judging by the past year, ambition doesn’t seem to be a problem.
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