Worldwide K-pop stars SEVENTEEN made their return with the hazy “You Make My Dawn”, a darker sequel to their previous release late last year.

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Whilst “Day” had a brighter, more gentle approach, “Dawn” brings in the storm and the darkness that comes with it. The grittiness of the EP is rather new to SEVENTEEN’s squeaky clean slate, changing the game up from their debut days.

So far, the darkest we’ve seen of the 13-member group was the rambunctious guitar riff heavy title track, “Clap”, from their second full length album – ”Teen,Age” (ironically, the visuals for ”Teen,Age” match the vibe of “Dawn” better, considering the drastic change that came with the surprise track “Getting Closer”).

We first got an unexpected introduction late last year, where all hell broke loose for CARATs with the sudden drop of the music video. “Getting Closer” was all dark hair, leather clothing and black eyeliner. Juxtaposing the last look we had of SEVENTEEN with “Oh My!”, this was a wise move to gain attention before announcing the date of their comeback. As we speak, “Getting Closer” stands at 13 million views already.

1. “Good To Me”

“Dawn” starts off with the brilliant “Good To Me”. The similar use of instruments in “Trauma” make a return in the intro of this song, which slowly ease into the bridge where vocalists Seungkwan and DK have no problem with blowing us away with. The addictive chorus littered with English phrases make it an easy sing-a-long, not to mention the general groove of the song.

With a long term “flower boy” image that SEVENTEEN have been keeping so pristine, this track showed promise of finally breaking free into a more mature concept. Personally, “Good To Me” felt like a good competitor for the title track. It’s almost baffling that a song with such good balance between all vocalists and rappers have taken a step down to merely begin the album but not take the crown.

So, what did the boys decide to go with?

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2. “Home”

The answer lies in the highly expected “Home”; the official title track of the album. While it would not be fair to call it the weakest song off the EP, it did fare several points. What “Home” brings to the table is perhaps what makes it so exceptionally standout in the EP, or even in SEVENTEEN’s entire discography.

The track itself feels rather lacklustre in comparison, however it’s in its utter lack of a beat drop in the chorus that completely catches one off-guard. Though arguably being a K-pop song, there is an eventual beat that snakes itself into it towards the end of it. While most tracks make listeners anticipate the inevitable trap beat to start the moment it builds up to the chorus, “Home” disarms you completely. Instead you hear the pure isolated vocals of the vocal unit cutting in, showing the group’s more vulnerable side on this track. While “Home” may not be impressive, it definitely is a more memorable risk.

3. “Hug”

Keeping within the theme, we are introduced to the first of the unit songs, “Hug”. One of the shortest songs the group has ever made so far (standing at only 2 minutes 39 seconds), it is probably the most melancholic track produced by the unit. While “Habit” remains victorious as the most emotionally charged song, “Hug Me” is a close contestant in terms of its heartbreaking nature.

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The gentle cry of frustration echoes within the fandom, and reaches deep into the hearts of fans; reminding them that despite the barriers between them — they too hurt just like us. An extremely humbling and human track; Joshua, DK, Jeonghan, Seungkwan and Woozi aptly captured the simple emotion of having a tough day.

4. “Chilli”

All frustrations are then washed away with the dreamy nature of the Hip Hop Unit’s “Chilli”. A play on the word “chill”, member Vernon’s composing skill really comes out on the track. Oozing his personal style, it paints a gorgeous picture for the team. The casual, laid back vibe of the track makes it perfect for relaxing to calm rapping of S.Coups, Mingyu, Wonwoo and Vernon.

5. “Shh”

However, all is changed with the entrance of “Shh” by the Performance Unit. Disarming you from the start, this is a song that does not let up at once. A party from start to finish, “Shh” is arguably the best track off the album. A dance track that showcases the charms of Hoshi, Jun, The8 and Dino at their best; dark and sexy. The use of dreamy synthesisers are similar to “Chilli” but applied in a completely different fashion, transforming the relaxing vibe before into a seductive one. The addictive bass in the intro sets the mood from the very beginning; this is no playground—as the members are certainly not here to play.

6. “Getting Closer”

“Dawn” wraps up their release with the long awaited “Getting Closer” as the final track. Finally being available for streaming, the song is not what one would have expected from a group like SEVENTEEN. If this was them trying to rebrand, we certainly got the message. Not subtle at all about the change, “Getting Closer” is as rowdy as SEVENTEEN gets in a song. From the obscene amount of noisy synth, gritty beat drops and throbbing bass—SEVENTEEN wanted to make a statement, and it was an effective one. Despite the obstreperous nature of the song, they still seal it in place with their killer vocals, stylish raps and beyond impressive choreography.

It was a power play to release the music video before even announcing a comeback date, as it gave fans enough time to slowly ease into this new sound that the boys had curated. True enough, the first time clicking into “Getting Closer” can be a rather unnerving experience. The change may have been too drastic for some to handle (after all, these are the people behind heart warming, cute tracks like “Pretty U” and “Adore U”) so the gap in between was really ingenious. By the time “Dawn” was finally out, one could stream the track without the initial shock that accompanied it when it first dropped. Intentional or not, it was a smart move from them.

SEVENTEEN

Overall, “Dawn” is a bold statement coming from the 13 boys of SEVENTEEN. After years of playing it safe with similar concepts, they are slowly starting to take bigger cracks at breaking their carefully constructed image. A balanced act; the EP counteracts its grittiness with muted softness. Much like the harsh, darkness of the night slowly fading into a gentle, new morning; “Dawn” is appropriately named.

Album review by Leyasheena Panicker.

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Leyasheena
Conquering the world, one emotional support kpop boy at a time.