SEVENTEEN Worship in Synths and Nostalgia on Mini Album “SEVENTEENTH HEAVEN” — In Depth Review
Some days, you’re standing naked in your bathroom for almost 10 minutes while you’re stuck trying to pick out the perfect album to play during your shower. On other days, you’re snug in your bed with headphones on, and every sound vibration hits your ear drums just right in a way that makes you start feeling like you’re floating on water, tasting strawberries, seeing blue skies with rainbows, and wanting to thank the God of Music.
And if the God of Music does exist, I can imagine they would be fond of SEVENTEEN’s ode to them.
Just by glancing at the momentous achievements SEVENTEEN have collected this year, well, there are lots of reasons for them to be thanking the God of Music.
Earlier this year, their release of mini album FML marked not only a mere personal record, but Kpop history when it became the best-selling album in its industry of ALL TIME with over 6 million copies. They also, casually, broke more all time Kpop records with the newest release SEVENTEENTH HEAVEN holding the highest (ever) first week sales. This is all still without mentioning the title tracks topping digital charts and the success of their subunit BSS.
Grand success like theirs always comes from prevailing with a niche; for SEVENTEEN, their strengths lie in two distinct characteristics — striking choreography and a bright boyish sound. While the group has naturally grown in maturity and tends to the creation of sharper, show stopping choreographies paired with more sophisticated concepts, it would be a disservice to say that their core notion is anything but still fresh and sugary youthfulness.
They’ve explored and found new parts of themselves through many pivots in sound and themes, but on this new mini album SEVENTEENTH HEAVEN they double-down on their core history built from their rookie funky freshness, synthy sentimental fan songs, and colorful loving confessions (well, maybe also a specific callback to their softer EDM phase of 2017–2019), to produce a reinvigorating celebration of a project.
Coming from someone who is a longtime fan and a ‘freshteen’ fiend through and through, this mini album provides a clear representation of SEVENTEEN’s musical identity as a group and their classic affectionate yet assured attitude. SEVENTEENTH HEAVEN is a well rounded, energizing mini album that strikes a great balance of that nostalgic zest while still having a distinguished evolution in sound.
“SOS (Prod. Marshmello)” is the ideal opener that acts as a surprisingly great transition from their last project to this current one. In fact, there are a lot of elements to this song that happily surprised me.
Being produced by American electronic music producer and DJ Marshmello, I was a little hesitant before listening, not knowing what to expect besides a straight modern EDM track (based on my limited prior knowledge of his music). While it is unmistakably in the electronic category, the blend with rockier elements makes for an absolute banger that quickly became a favorite. The combination of gritty synth and guitar, a rocking rhythm, and guttural vocal delivery gives an addicting edge to the track. Some parts about the song — such as the tumultuous pre-chorus and the American pop-song format of duplicated sections of production — show Marshmello’s weight in it, but I think it doesn’t really detract from the SEVENTEEN-ness they still bring.
The sonic stage for the track is set with resounding and commanding gruffing synths. It opens with a rough pad and blows a simple high, almost brassy sounding synth melody on top to introduce us to Marshmello’s producer tag. The verse drops with an easy oscillating main synth line and pounds of a kick and trap snare. The second part of the verse is probably the section that sticks out the most as unlike SEVENTEEN’s usual style and presumably very Marshmello influenced, with the sudden burst of a booming bass, stomps of percussion, quick flashing smatters of baby vocal chops, and higher toned mimicking ad-libs as their voices get more aggressive.
A set of trap drums takes us to the cooling part of the pre-chorus with strums of a hazy, reverbed guitar and thin ticks as they take a second to ponder — “Where is the love?”. Now, something about this specific small section slightly bugs me on some listens with its glaring staticness; the unresolving melody ending with that uninspired ‘woah-oh-oh, woah’, annoying ticks, and somewhat prolonged bareness as an overt attempt at an anti-drop is a bit of a buzzkiller. But sometimes I can easily ignore it, anticipating the delectable highlight of the whole song — the hooking chorus.
The chorus comes in with an acapella opening line, “S-O-S-O-S-O, right now” — with the crunchy beat dropping in on the word ‘now’. The production is clamoring with the solid bumping percussion, sporadic hefty electric guitar strums, and fuzzy subtle guitar picking lining along the more forceful vocal line. The post-chorus call and response from the members completing each line with the snappy “S-O-S, S-O-S” tagline is a flawless way to wrap up the spirited chorus; there’s even a light synth in the back that follows a few notes of the vocal melody for more simple satisfaction. Everything about the rhythm and catchy vocal melody is perfect for a casual headbanging session and to be sung out without restraint. It all makes for arguably the most ear-catching part of the whole album.
The second verse is even more minimal with a compressed blurry synth line pattern and spare trap snares. I like how while the production for the aggressive build up is the same, they introduce new lyrics to keep it from feeling so stale. The bridge still has production very reminiscent of the verses, but it builds up with the buzzy bass, synth line progressively tuned higher, and the quick paced spit out lines growing in intensity. Seungkwan’s high note is used to transition to the final chorus where DK’s stunning voice gets a solo spotlight with the mere electric guitar strums until it rumbles back into the hitting full production of the chorus for a rather clean ending.
Perhaps the most obvious surprise is the fact that it is entirely sung in English. While the prior English single “Darl+ing” and “SOS” are very dissimilar to each other, I do want to point out some key differing attributes of “SOS”.
“SOS” does have a parallel underlying tone of care and love, but it’s through a lens of fierce defiance and protection; there’s an intense sense of urgency to escape from perilous bounds that’s almost dystopian/apocalyptic. Every member does an excellent job with emoting this feeling through their voices; there’s a newfound emphasis throughout the song on their full chest voice with hints of a gnarl. The production reiterates this emotion through the hasty pace and hard hitting instrumental. While it all comes together to create a really solid track, my one small gripe is that the flow of the lyrics is not as fluid with the rest of the sonic landscape. I can see how they took their experience of recording “Darl+ing” and applied it to record another full English song, mimicking the pronunciation as it sounded well on its own and they were also able to capture the light and lovely mood. However, I do wish they took a slightly different approach where instead of focusing on the softer sound of the vowels, they rather stressed the hard sound of the consonants to match the power of the rest of the track.
Regarding the lyrics itself, some parts (like the chorus) make complete sense, but a tiny critique would be that there are a few times where the lines are worded kind of unnaturally — regardless, the message still comes through well. SEVENTEEN encourages the listener to question the suffering happening around them and to them, demanding for them to find a better place with their assistance. It’s a strong message in itself, but it also happened to be a great segue — from the somber tone of the title track “F*ck My Life” that talks about wanting to give up yet also fight for their life to the powerful awakening of “Super”, they are now ready to act and take the wisdom and strength they gained to extend help to others.
There could not have been a more ideal song to be the face of this celebratory mini album than the glorious title track, “God of Music”. Rather than maybe one might expect, SEVENTEEN are not granting themselves that title, but are overcome with heaping gratitude for all the elation music brings that they start reciting: “If there is a God of Music / I want to give you a hug of gratitude”.
In a song dedicated to praising the greatness of music, the sound is honestly what I would expect it to be. There’s a fine collection of instruments from some slap bass, electric guitar, cheeky brass, and of course, synth galore with lovely and lively dynamics through the endlessly funky rhythm. Not only does it cover a dimension of music in general, but I really love how I can hear callbacks to SEVENTEEN’s past title tracks all over this song.
To give a somewhat comprehensive rundown: The funky slap bass is very evocative of their rookie days fresh concept triple threat of “Adore U”, “Mansae”, and “Pretty U”, the buoyant brass in undeniably impressionistic of the classic “Very Nice”, the rhythmic electric guitar strummed intervals and picking takes me to mostly “Rock with you” with a little bit of “CLAP” and “Left & Right”, and the swing-like rhythm with the synths is strikingly “Oh My!” adjacent. The whole track in general feels like it takes the nostalgic candided “_WORLD” and injects a fresh clone with extra funk and theatrics.
To start “God of Music” off, we get an abrupt yet gorgeous intro from Joshua’s glossy vocals featuring a surprising impressive sublime soared adlib from him with cheery group chants of ‘hey, ho’s, and a first taste of the song’s signature funky rhythm rearing underneath. The introductory breath of the slap bass, bright synth, peppy guitar, and spurted brass take us to the lively verse. The verse section lets the cheeky vocal line take center as the production here is rhythm forward with the protruding rounded deep bass synth, bouncy vox, and a fragment of a slap bass line. It effortlessly builds with blows of trumpet, rhythmic guitar picking, a shaker and casual hits of percussion, and more of the slapped bass. There are multiple instances throughout the song of instrumental moments that utilize a sudden brief rhythm change with the brass notes; a quick pause then succession of notes lightly breaks up small sections — like here, where the vocal melody mimics that rhythm as it transitions to a rap verse.
It gets a little busier in texture with the further additions of synth gleams, a new skipping rhythm pattern reminiscent of a record scratch rewind, and a heavier filter on the guitar. A swell brings us to the first half of the pre-chorus with merely heavy electric guitar strikes with subtle cowbell ticks, steady kicks, and a dose of almost marching band-like flat snare hits. The last half of the pre-chorus naturally continues to swell higher with a heightening resonant synth and brass to follow.
The chorus is full in brightness with the brass fully coating the section in both legato smoothness and jetting notes featuring a good mix of texture in rhythmic lines and percussion, and a subtle grounding synth. The simple shouts of the post-chorus “Kung chi pak chi, kung kung chi pak chi, yeah” (Korean onomatopoeia for drums) is incredibly addictive, from the sound of the syllables itself, to the emphasizing hits of the beat, to the flavor of the sunny brass line that comes back in to completely satisfy.
The shorter second verse has a more warped synth bass and a rhythm that matches the busier pace it’s built. Before going into the pre-chorus, the brass confidently plays and Woozi just decides to swiftly belt out a spectacular ascending high note, for no reason but because he can and I greatly enjoy and respect that.
The following sections breeze by beautifully, and then Hoshi’s ending line of the post-chorus takes us to arguably the highlight of the whole song for me — a synth solo as the bridge! I cannot emphasize enough how much pure glee hearing that for the first time brought me. The song in itself makes a note to be loud and proud, so in my head I was thinking how good it would be to fully send it and have a instrument solo moment in here, and it actually came to fruition!
The zippy electronic synth line soars high while an oscillating buzzy pad and clean drum beats keep us on the ground. SEVENTEEN remind us they are the ones in command with Mingyu’s “SEVENTEEN to the world / The whole world sing in unison” and leading the last chant of the “Kung chi pak chi, kung kung chi pak chi, yeah” with mere bombastic drum hits. The culminating instrumental comes back in and delightfully continues out for the closing.
One could argue that this track is completely saccharine and might as well be for Disney. Well — the matching visuals of plastered rainbows, a giant smiling daisy, and literal children jumping on trampolines in the music video certainly does not help their case, but the thing is, SEVENTEEN are the cheesiest boy group out there and they own it. It’s clear in their rookie days and sprinkled throughout their discography years later that their maturity includes space for the spirited heart of youth that they never fail to recognize. They have had their fair share of sugary tracks, but “God of Music” is SEVENTEEN concentrated — into a syrup soaked layer cake slathered in buttercream frosting.
Speaking of the group paying homage to their rookie era, the next all-member track is the ever so nostalgic “Diamond Days”. The title alone is a statement that sums up the theme of rejoicing in their current groundbreaking success that they dreamt about as the underdogs; it’s also a direct reference to their pre-debut single “Shining Diamond” that was officially released as the first track of their debut EP 17 Carat. To take it a step further, they directly sample it for this song.
SEVENTEEN as a group will take any breathing chance to turn on their sentimentality, whether through any interview, fanmeet, and especially all over their music. So while a nostalgia soaked song is right up their alley, now that they have made actual undeniable Kpop history, this particular tribute is an earnest, more weighted instant that is more than very well earned. You can truly feel how grateful they are for everything they’ve achieved and how far they’ve come.
The opening is blatant with the sampled, signature whispered refrain: “Slip into the diamond life”. Throughout the foundation of this track, there’s not only the direct sample, but lots of sonic similarities to the original — such an inspired electric guitar riff with a close tone, spacey synth chord, modulated downturning warped bass synth, and general buzz from both tracks. A lovely cascade takes us to a scattering of blooping synth drops, sprinkled tiny vox effects, and a clean and catchy electric guitar riff. More synth pads and snaps ease us from the past into the modern time, where Hoshi is here to let the past know that now, “Everyday is a shining day”. A shrieking wub bass flies in and pilots the way into the verses’ jouncy staccato beat. A compressed kick and synth chords steadily make their way with disruptive bouts of that wub bass flying in when it pleases and vox ad libs and guitar peeking from under. The further it goes the more coarse the production gets, with the sign of a dry drum upping the percussion to the messier modulating electronic bass and guitar line weaved in more prominently. A fleeting drum fill cools us to the more vacant pre-chorus with comfy pads and more legato vocal lines and matching smooth harmonies, still with a skipping percussion.
We slip into the chorus through powerhouses DK and later Woozi singing “slip into the diamond life” at a breathtaking, sky-scraping pitch. The chorus chops up the phrase ‘diamond days’, putting emphasis on the ‘di’ sound to match the familiar glitchiness of the beat. The post-chorus ups the celebratory feel with a call and response of ‘diamond’ and a group shout on ‘days’, along with the main synth much louder. I have to admit… I really enjoy the verse and pre chorus from the production and melodies, but the chorus is very underwhelming for me. With the glitchiness of the whole track, by the chorus I’m kind of craving a bigger, melodious moment where they can go full braggadocious.
The second verse pulls a different vocal melody on top of the production, but honestly I just find it to be awkward and sort of clunky with the pauses. The second pre-chorus keeps everything at a higher volume with a slightly fortified percussion.
It cuts straight from the post-chorus to the quieter outro that mimics the intro with the whispered sample, cascading sprinkles and dialed bloops of synth.
While I like this song for the most part, there’s one notable outside aspect that clouds my judgement. The explicit sampling and the overall EDM heavy sound with vocal chopping and glitchy electronic synths is incredibly reminiscent of a very old, arbitrary track: “Shining Diamond (Performance Team Ver.)” from SEVENTEEN’s first full album First ‘Love&Letter’ (2016). To give a little context, that album features previous songs of theirs re-arranged by the three main units of the group — the hip hop unit turning “Mansae” into a chill rap song, vocal unit turning “Adore U” into a ballad, and then performance unit simply turning “Shining Diamond” into an EDM remix. While it is a track that I honestly forgot about until now, it sort of devalues “Diamond Days” for me since it fills the same sonic niche.
Now we’re onto the eclectic unit tracks, starting with the performance unit’s “Back 2 Back”. Performance unit embraces the crunchy electronic sound that’s been prominent so far and uses that palette to paint a vivid canvas.
This song is secretly addicting and gets brighter and better with every listen. Performance unit tends to garner high expectations from me, especially since their last release gave me their undeniable best song yet. Despite my hesitations with the clear cut EDM sound, there is just so much to enjoy here. The overall sound conjures up this film of a unique refreshing graphic varnish of aquamarine, tangerine, and highlighter yellow, or the image of a shaken up fruity soda foaming over. It has a rejuvenating spring air that the other electronic heavy tracks on this album don’t really touch. The tones and pattern of the synths are incredibly invigorating rather than blasting, but I think the best part of the song are the extraordinarily colorful vocals from the members. They all get a great spread of lines, including everyone in the bridge and eventually in the chorus.
All four of the members’ voices shine so incredibly within the fizzy production; everyone is really flexing their abilities in the best way possible here. It surprisingly suits all of their vocal tones, but the duo The8 and Jun leave me in the most amazement. The8 usually doesn’t get many moments to show off the lengths of his vocal range, but the use of his chest voice for the high pitch of the chorus is very impressive. Meanwhile, what I can hear in the prior album tracks as well but is glaring here, is Jun’s low, gravely voice that I’m so fascinated by. He typically tends to sing high and in falsetto due to his natural tone, but it is so refreshing to hear something new from him and have it work so well within the songs; in “Back 2 Back” that tone provides a great contrast to everyone else’s zesty tone. Hoshi’s tangy voice fits right in as another instrument and Dino’s vocal flexibility continues to sharpen with his evident growth over the years.
A clear robotic synth pattern opens the track, and some signature elements belonging to the EDM genre carry through from the previous tracks, such as an oscillating wub bass and lots of resonant buzz on the synth lines. Clean snaps lead a fizzy baby synth to squeeze out onto the radiant verse. The8 and Dino’s voices here are fresh lemon slices on top of a drink, paired with a standout rich synth pad that fills the room like citrus scented freshener. There’s just enough edge from the spits of funky tinges that balances things, as a tiny synth zips past adding in a slap bass that smoothly dips in and the sweet vocals with a touch of harmonies. The pre-chorus shakes things up with a brashness from the zigzagging low modulated synth, militant drum pattern, and filtered rhythmic vocal line. This section took me aback at first, but I’ve come to enjoy the sonic contrast it brings to the rest of the song and how it engineers a deeper passion in its delivery.
I love everything about this high spirited chorus; the vocal melody and production work in such harmony. Of course, we have the lively belted vocals from the members with the ideal amount of softening harmonies paired with a fun melody. The instrumental here has the prismatic synth pad in full exposure plus other previous elements of the verse tied in. It has perfectly balanced waves of rhythm that deviate and support the main vocal melody, such as a little line of descending drops that mimic a brief staccato moment with the vocals. One of the highlights of the whole song has to be the simple but ravishing elongated belt with bounded harmonies of the long ‘a’ syllable from the title phrase ‘back to back’ that closes the chorus.
The ‘ck’ syllable of the word gets eaten up by a warbled down synth fluidly entering the second verse. It’s a slightly enhanced version of the first with a more bloated modulated synth line and warm vocal harmonies.
There’s a new post-chorus after the second chorus, consisting of an electronic breakdown starting out with some glitches then having the synth lines dancing along the boom of the pounding bass drum. The bridge that follows right after is a variation on the darker pre-chorus; it builds in drama as the tempo starts out a little slower before the percussion scuttles faster then naturally fading to the last chorus. The song goes out with a bang thanks to the energetic post-chorus breakdown doubling as an outro.
Next in line is the hip-hop unit’s Halloween themed track called “Monster”.
Listen… I’m not sure how many others share my sentiment, but this song is a personal enigma. It’s not uncommon for my personal opinion on music to fluctuate after repeated listens and also due to just the plain passing of time, but I can’t solidly say if I like it or not. I wouldn’t call it boring, but at the same time it’s kind of bland. It’s unique but also basic. It’s quirky and creative, yet unimaginative.
In a first attempt to dissect further, I think the Halloween theme itself is definitely an oddball pick — maybe in general, but especially within this contemporary EDM soundscape of the album. I also think the tracklist placement as smack dab in the middle, acting as a strange divider of the preceding electronic heavy tracks and the forthcoming soft, sentimental tracks doesn’t do it any favors. It’s a weird transition, but I also can’t imagine where it would better fit (maybe as the first unit track?).
The main sonic motif of the spooky and quirky staccato synth melody does lots of the heavy lifting for the whole, somewhat minimalist, production. That melody is layered with a few different textures of synths — first with simple childlike keys and a thick droned synth before it’s interrupted by a mixture of a rhythmic doorbell and bumping kick drum. The beat then fully drops with classic trap hi-hats and snare percussion, throbs of a synth bass, light complimentary synth taps, and decorations of sound effect oddities such as the doorbell and a swift whistle to accompany the main synth melody.
Just off of the intro, the verses are much more elementary. It has the base of a lot of modern trap inspired hip-hop, with the bass coming in and out, the familiar snare at a mid-tempo pace, and baby vox ad libs thrown in for good measure. The synth key pattern motif twinkles in the back for some added rhythm and to keep up the kooky creepiness as Vernon and Wonwoo rap with heavy references to — you guessed it, Halloween monsters. The sampled scream towards the end of Wonwoo’s verse lets you know they’re committed to the theme.
The first half of the pre-chorus is my favorite section of the whole song. It’s cool yet a little unnerving as a high-toned wavering signal hangs up in the air and the baby vox ‘yo’ and synth keys act as the only kind of rhythm for the mixed voice of Vernon and Mingyu. They lightly sing along to the motif melody, with a tiny soft layer of a ghostly whisper under it.
The motif synth line and signal-like sound is carried quietly as a deflated bumble of bass comes in and the percussion revs up to the chorus drop. I like how all the members get a line after the other, each with their own cockiness to the line.
Wonwoo’s casual smugness drops us into the asinine repetitive group chanting of ‘na na na’s that mimic the main motif. In the middle, there’s at least Wonwoo reciting his line again before the last half of the ‘na na na’s. I don’t entirely hate the simplicity of the chorus and I appreciate its mocking nature that leans into the playfulness of the theme, but I just wish there was also something more to chew on. Afterwards, the short verses of autotuned Mingyu and S.Coups’ assertiveness (with the delicious acapella whispered ending line) adds a different texture, before we rinse and repeat the pre-chorus and chorus.
Now, this outro of Mingyu and Vernon’s pre-chorus refrain with a higher energy of additional group chants on top is single handedly the best part of the track, as it’s the level of energy I had been craving for the entire time! It’s a real shame how the energy only perks up at the end! I think it would have worked great as some part of the chorus to accompany the existing ‘na na na’s, whether before or after. But the very end is simply the main synth pattern and quick doorbell rings.
I think my collection of pros and cons can be summed up by the word ‘potential’. I find the concept a quirky and fun change up for the hip-hop unit, each written rap verse sufficient with the lyrical theme and each member having a nice distinct flow, but the melodic motif it relies on for the rather minimalist instrumental doesn’t get put down for one second. It starts out interesting but it turns into juvenile with the gaping emptiness of other elements and shallow soundscape. The shortness of the track’s runtime also doesn’t help. I wish the production took the monster theme and aimed for a busier, dirtier grimness to the instrumental.
For a kind of hilarious transition, the vocal unit’s straightforward ballad “Yawn” comes right after. This song, more than “Monster”, sticks out pretty sorely within the upbeat synthy album tracks, but it surprisingly doesn’t bother me too much because I just like it on its own and the following track “Headliner” works to help round it out with the album.
“Yawn” is a classic Woozi-produced vocal unit ballad: soft vocals, delicate piano, some gentle acoustic guitar plucks, silky strings, and of course — breathtaking touching lyrics.
To open, the mere delicate piano line graces us. With an aerial sweep, a just as delicate plucked guitar beautifully replicates the melody. Steady piano chords lay the rug for Joshua and Jeonghan’s wispy vocals, while the guitar mingles in and an atmospheric resonance wraps a warm blanket around our bodies. This relaxing scene lingers through until the chorus finishes, with the fragile vocals, pittering piano, stray guitar, and ambient grazes. The first chorus closes out with the piano and guitar line melting together again as one phrase when an opulent lift of strings brush in. It goes straight into the second pre-chorus now; it tranquilly starts off with drops of the piano, slowly shaped with shy background harmonies before a depth carefully manifests through sparkles guiding a set of soft percussive pounds and hollow snaps, spare acoustic guitar strums, and robust strings back in. The chorus continues this thorough degree of fullness with additional finger snaps, rhythmic guitar strums, and a subtle peak of a bassline to create the harmonious comfort.
This bridge is a thing of beauty. A soaring lead guitar and strings stretch out and up, with rhythmic guitar strumming and string pattern, and very light percussion to help chug along to create a grand anticipatory build up. Before a big reveling in the intensity, it nimbly sets us down to Earth — to bare piano taps and the softest ever mewling from Woozi that feels like a baby’s lullaby. It’s somehow the most devastating and heartwarming moment imaginable and does wreck me to tears if I let myself.
The final chorus with new concluding lyrics brings that relieving full force of an instrumental it was promising; it also has strong adlibs by Woozi that don’t overpower, but is almost purposefully drowned out. It concludes with that lovely piano and lets the final note ring out.
When I first listened through, it immediately reminded me of the vocal unit’s “Pinwheel” from the group’s full album Teen, Age (2017). It’s very akin to the mellowness with the piano, strings, and vocals. I also want to say it’s generally reminiscent of Kdrama OSTs — but I can’t say from what other than the style of the melodies and strings.
A really important element of the song that I wish I could fully dive into is the songwriting. Solely written by Woozi, the narrator attempts to comfort the person he’s addressing so tenderly, telling them to not be hard on themself for taking a break and affirming the love the narrator has for them by acknowledging their pain and comparing them to his breath. The message is heart-rending yet consoling — which at this point, is a signature for Woozi as a lyricist. The translated lyrics are undeniably touching, but this song in particular makes me really wish I understood Korean to fully grasp all the nuances and poetic quality that translators have said it contains.
The closing track is the foreseen fan song of the album, “Headliner”. I was interested to see what kind of sound this fan song would follow, in terms of how it fits in the album sonically and differentiation to previous fan songs. Thankfully, it’s one of my top songs on this project. It has the warmth of an act playing an outdoor music festival’s sunset time slot — orange hue, live band, sea of swaying arms and all.
We’re immediately introduced to the live band sound with the lead high-pitched guitar line with tremolo and incredible open air-sounding drums. A subtle oscillating synth pad hovers under them, just above the ground to give the production more air. The instrumental comfortably shifts to take up more space with additional voluminous ‘Oh- woah, oh-oh’s, rhythmic acoustic guitar strums, and a faint synth line that grows from the background into the piping lead synth line.
This song has an inherent peacefulness throughout with most sections being relatively calm. The synth melts away as the opening lines of the verse start; the oscillating pad is barely present and solid piano chords and guitar strums help lightly ground the light vocals and harmonies. The drums start to kick in, but with a non-abrasive suppleness. The pre-chorus has a beautiful vocal melody and a light radiant pad meets the falsetto of the members’ voices in the sky as more harmonies gather to warm up the room. The chorus simply culminates all the elements, bringing back the rhythmic strumming and melodic synth line on top of the lovely vocal melody and swirling toasty harmonies. The post-chorus has them sweetly declare “you’re my headliner”, and a background belt on the word ‘headliner’ takes us straight to the from the post-chorus to the bridge, completely skipping any second verse, chorus, or post-chorus. Now, since I enjoy the sonic composition of the song, it doesn’t completely turn me off, but it does feel a bit jarring and disappointing at the needless shortness of the song.
Nevertheless, the bridge continues the sweetness with some more energy through the vocals getting more dramatic and higher. The last chorus does the classic sentimental ‘instrumental drop out for the vocals, only supported by claps’ and to be honest, sometimes I find it eye-rolling cheesy, but this is just one of those times where it works for me. Although, background ad lib harmonies are still present and an ambient resonant synth pad to capture the atmosphere. The pad dials down and a roll of a drum fill brings us to the good ole’ post-chorus to finish the track.
“Headliner” is classic feel-good SEVENTEEN; a lovely, warm, sweet hug of a closer. The warm synth melody reminds me a lot of another fan song of theirs, “All My Love” from ; (Semicolon) (2019). I would even go as far as to say the live drums I love in this track ties back to the enchanting live special acoustic version of “All My Love”.
While “Headliner” is the last full track on the album, I’ll give a special nod to them tacking “God of Music (Inst.)” on the end. I enjoy instrumentals a lot more since I started analyzing songs and it was a good help. Although, I also want to point out that when listening to the album straight through, it feels like the ending credits of a movie or the music that plays once the artists have left the stage, which is a cool way to *officially* close an album.
“SEVENTEENTH HEAVEN” is its own music festival and each song is its own act: A DJ comes in to open up the stage, a new release pumps up the crowd, a nostalgic classic gets an exciting revamp, energetic performance unit gets the sweat going, braggadocious hip hop unit pumps the veins, soothing vocal unit get the crowd in their feelings, and they all come together as a big headliner to send us home with a united feeling.
Yet, it feels like SEVENTEEN came into the process of making this project with a specific kind of mindset. It’s as if they were in a nightly studio session and decided to throw the type of party where hesitation in using precious possessions saved for special occasions is set aside, taking a Tuesday night to celebrate life itself — a round up of breaking out the piled up CDs, sealed bottle of the best liquor, luxury attire sitting deeply in closets, and guitar that sits in a dusty corner. Oh and of course, everyone taking turns using their lungs to help drown the room in balloons just because.
SEVENTEEN are never caught in a time where they’re not evolving — but with the heavy passionate revival of the group’s confidence in their direction (regarding sonic maturity and material success) in their last few releases, it’s clear with “SEVENTEENTH HEAVEN” they don’t have any questions on who they are. They’ve figured out that ambition and turning a new age doesn’t mean leaving everything behind, but that we’re made up of a collection of years that run through our blood. There’s always room to commemorate who you were, are, and will be. “SEVENTEENTH HEAVEN” is not a rebirth, but a never ending festivity.
“SOS (Prod. Marshmello)” — 9/10
“God of Music” — 9/10
“Diamond Days” — 7/10
“Back 2 Back” — 9/10
“Monster” — 6/10
“Yawn” — 8/10
“Headliner” — 8.5/10
Album Rating: 3.5/5