There are few things more satisfying than a pop group in their element. With age comes clarity, and SHINee are at a point in their career where they know their strengths. They can tackle pretty much any genre and make it their own (ie: Don’t Call Me), but no one does bombastic electro funk pop like they do. Much of their newest album proves this, and now it has a title track to match. Atlantis is undiluted, unbeatable SHINee, and a formidable force in a year that has already delivered its fair share of classics.
First unveiled as part of the group’s Beyond Live concert last weekend, Atlantis has been swimming around my mind for days. It was love at first listen, and its simple, descending hook latched onto my memory like a pleasant dream. Hearing it again in full studio recording is an overwhelming experience. K-pop thrives on a larger-than-life sense of drama, but the actual music rarely sounds this immense.
Atlantis wastes no time, laying down tense bass guitar as a prelude to its powerful verse. The instrumental has the movement of rolling waves, and provides a sparse backdrop for SHINee’s unadorned vocals. Few K-pop groups could away with an arrangement this revealing, but SHINee’s talent has long since been proven.
From here, the song opens widescreen and never looks back. Synths and percussion rush in all at once, joined by icy strings and gorgeous vocal harmonies. Atlantis’s chorus further expands this sonic palette, adding extra rhythm guitar and a propulsive electro throb. SHINee’s vocals are layered in that towering blend that’s come to characterize so much of their music. But although this might be the song’s centerpiece, the entirety of Atlantis is performed with incredible intensity. Where most tracks might climax in a single, well-placed power note, Atlantis rattles off several of them as casually as handing out candy on Halloween. It’s SHINee doing what they do best, and once again reaffirms their status as one of K-pop’s most legendary groups.