SHINee – Sherlock (Album Review)

After almost two years of waiting, SHINee is finally back! On  March 19th, SHINee released their 4th mini album – Sherlock.

Track List

01. Sherlock•셜록 (Clue + Note)

02. Clue

03. Note

04. Alarm Clock /알람시계

05. The Reason

06. Stranger /낯선자

07. Honesty /늘 그자리에

. . . . . . .

Sherlock is finally the one album from SHINee that I like thoroughly. Usually, SHINee’s album has a great title song with a fancy music video, then there will be 1 or 2 good songs in the album, and the rest of it just don’t stand out at all. However, for Sherlock, the ideas, the music quality, and the vibe of the entire album is amazing as each song varies from another with its own uniqueness. Let’s take a look:

. . . . . . .

The title song, “Sherlock”, is a so-called hybrid remix, which mixes two independent songs, in this case, “Clue” and “Note”, into a new song. I particularly like the concept of hybrid remix since it can create amazing and surprising effects when used right, however, even though the song “Sherlock” is produced by an entirely European team, I highly doubt SM Entertainment’s motivation of making this so-called “hybrid remix”. The two supposedly independent “Clue” and “Note” sound very alike, and “Clue” lacks an obvious chorus while “Note” has a constant tension as if the whole song is at climax. In my opinion, SME probably composed “Sherlock” first, then came up with the two sub-version of it, naming them “Clue” and “Note”, and finally used the name of hybrid remix to justify the three similar songs. (SME’s money-making skills again, huh? But this is just my personal opinion.)

Nevertheless, Sherlock is filled with energy and playfulness. The intro is classic and funky, and the overall melody is a lot more mature than SHINee’s early works like “Juliet” and “Love Like Oxygen” and a lot more playful and more interesting than their kpop-stereotyped “Ring Ding Dong” and “Lucifer”. The instrumental is rich and filled with different kinds of machine-like “noises”, which are assigned so delicately that none of them messes up the neatness of the song; in fact, these underlying melodies and noises help build up a vintage yet modern feeling to the song.

Sherlock’s choreography is also notable, just like the choreography of every other SHINee’s title song. Every move has something new and eye-catching in it, and if I am going to take notes on each of them I probably won’t be able to get to the other songs in this album today. 🙂  You can check out the dance version of Sherlock here to find out how it goes. (Lucifer still has my favorite choreography though, just saying.)

. . . . . . .

As I said above, “Clue” and “Note” sound pretty alike.

“Clue” lacks an obvious chorus.

“Note” has a constant tension as if the whole song is at climax.

However, they are still pretty nicely seamed songs. Also, I find myself finding pleasure in distinguishing the two songs and their parts in “Sherlock”. That’s probably the key of a hybrid remix song – it makes people listen more into its components.

. . . . . . .

I as first attracted to “Alarm Clock /알람시계” by its funky and distorted beginning. Compared to waking up, “Alarm Clock” gave me more a feeling of an erratic dream – I would never want to wake up with this feeling. The song also gives a swinging feeling as if shaking or walking on the edge. So I looked up the lyrics of “Alarm Clock”, and I was surprised at how accurate the lyrics fits the melody and the vibe of the song – it’s about a man, dumped by his girlfriend, feeling as if he’s been having an erratic long nightmare, waiting for the alarm clock (which means the girl’s love) to save him from the dream. The awkwardness of the song surprisingly makes perfect sense with the lyrics – that’s something you don’t see often in K-pop; K-pop has so many songs in which the lyrics don’t make sense, or don’t fit at all. Overall, even though the melody in “Alarm Clock” is nothing new, the awkward underlying feeling makes it unique. (Check out the lyrics here.)

. . . . . . .

“The Reason” starts off with a rather gloomy vibe as the electric guitar plays solo in the intro. It feels like the grey sky filled with dark clouds before a storm comes. Then the members’ clear and tender voices come in with quiet instrumental and no base at the back, as if it starts drizzling. At 0:44, as the melody rises and the midi sound effect comes into the instrumental, the emotional state of the song is quickly raised to the peak – the storm pours down, heavily brushes off the dust on roofs, leaves, roads… And finally, the sun comes out after a heavy baptism. The emotional build-up of “The Reason” makes me shrill, the melody of the song is strong and catchy, and the lyrics of this song also fits the overall feeling (check it out here).

. . . . . . .

“Stranger /낯선자” is the Korean version of “Stranger (Japanese version)” in SHINee’s Japanese album “The First” and is a very typical SHINee-styled pop song. Besides criticizing SME for its laziness, I don’t particularly have anything to say about this song, but I do appreciate that SME does keep SHINee’s original pop style (unlike Super Junior, their style was completely flipped inside out by SME over time). Also, I do like a part of this song a lot – the second verse (the part right before chorus, for example from 1:23 to 1:38), especially the part when the lyrics say “control” (1:29 – 1:30). It feels robotic.

. . . . . . .

“Honesty /늘 그자리에” is my favorite song in this album “Sherlock”. It’s acoustic, it’s soft, it’s smooth, it’s sweet and subtle. If I said “The Reason” feels like a baptizing storm, then I would definitely describe “Honesty” as the scene after the rain when the sunshine leaks out from the clouds, the ground still wet, beads of dew dropping down from the tip of leaves, gentle breeze flowing through the half open window, the air filled with moist and freshness.Closing my eyes, I can even see the green, feel the breeze, breath the freshness and taste the unruffled sweetness.

The lyrics of “Honesty” is beautiful as well. You can read it here.

I can say nothing more about this song without ruining it, so please enjoy it if you would.

. . . . . . .

Overall, the music in album “Sherlock” contains more or less a feeling of jazz and blues (I really don’t view the two as the same thing. Jazz is more traditional and “easy-come-easy-go”, whereas blues is softer and with gentler emotion.) This is also why I like this album’s music – they differ from each other, yet they tie back altogether.

Now that we are done with the music, let’s take a look at some other things “Sherlock” has. Despite of some French-boy-pornography-styled pictures contained in the album, “Sherlock” does have an interesting album cover. It’s not just another idolistic picture of SHINee members standing together or showing off their pretty faces, and it’s not just a patterned background with the title “SHERLOCK” on it. It is indeed artistically and carefully shot – the paint, the hands and hands only, the vintage styled fabrics and bracelets, the clash of color, the old instrument (Ukulele? I am not sure)… Every element on the album cover adds a bit of taste into the picture. As a result, this album cover really attracts people to the album – even those people who have no idea who SHINee is (for example, my cousin). That’s the power that every album cover should have.

People also talk about Taemin’s hair. Due to obvious reasons, I am not going to comment more about Taemin’s femininity with that crazily neat and kawaii long hair. There’s no excuse for Taemin’s hair this time, SM, Taemin is no where near a rocker in this album, don’t try to fool us with the same reason you did for Lucifer. (Remember what I said about his hair in Lucifer? Click here if you haven’t read it yet.)

After all, “Sherlock” is a pretty successful album of SHINee: from the title of the album to the album cover, and even to the music itself, “Sherlock” gives a bit of vintage taste without overdoing it or losing the SM style.


* Pictures come from the Internet, including snapshots I took from the official MV of “Sherlock”. No infringement intended.

* Rights regarding to the writing reserved to Asian Music Invasion.

This entry was published on March 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm. It’s filed under K-pop, Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “SHINee – Sherlock (Album Review)

  1. minhduc311 on said:

    Hey, I really like your review! “Honesty” is indeed the best song in “Sherlock”. Not long ago, “Chapter I – Dream Girl – The Misconceptions Of You” has been released, have you already thought about reviewing it? 🙂

  2. Hey! I realize that this is my first album review ever! ^_^

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