Less than a year after debut, Japan’s Produce 101-spawned JO1 is releasing their first full album. Of course, the Japanese market works differently than K-pop, usually cobbling together a run of already-released singles and b-sides into an album. But, this still seems like a quick accomplishment for the rookie group. After the generic Infinity, August’s Oh-Eh-Oh hinted at an edgier side to their discography. New single Shine A Light is anything but edgy. Still, it’s good, wholesome fun.
I usually don’t care for sappy mid-tempo tracks like this, but Shine A Light is a strong example of the format. Clearly designed with hand-swaying concertgoers in mind, the song feels ready for confetti and tears. Its release is well-timed to the upcoming holiday season, when sentiments are already high. Its melody is at once soothing and rousing, which might sound like an impossible contrast. But, the track succeeds at threading the needle without coming off as too treacly.
My favorite aspect of Shine A Light is its instrumental. Songs like these often take time to build to their explosive chorus, but Light’s production is full and resonant all the way through. Layers of synth create a brilliant atmosphere, giving the track a cosmic sound that feels more propulsive than your standard mid-tempo boy group release. The chorus is a little repetitive, but the instrumental helps give it enough intensity and drama to compensate. Towards its finale, Shine A Light builds to a stirring power note. But, I wish the track would have grown even bigger. If you’re going to peddle this kind of confetti-drop pop, you might as well go the whole way.