‘Renaissance’, the elegant French word simply means ‘rebirth’, referring to the period of the revival of the golden era of art and literature, and Super Junior’s newest addition to its flawless discography embodies the word like its own. ‘The Renaissance’ is the 10th Full Album from the industry veterans and as its name rightly suggests, the album is an enticing elegy, a true resurgence of the classics with a neoteric medley.
The album features 10 tracks, including ‘The Melody’ which was pre-released in November 2020 to commemorate the group’s 15th anniversary, along with a remake of ‘Raining Spell for Love’, which was originally featured in Super Junior’s 2014 album ‘Mamacita’, and two other pre-released tracks, ‘Burn The Floor’ and ‘Tell Me Baby’. It was to be released in November 2020 to celebrate the group’s 15th anniversary but was pushed back twice to 16th March 2021, for a “more perfect preparation and a satisfactory album”, according to Label SJ.
“With this album, we’re going to greet you with a revival of Super Junior. We decided on the album title of ‘The Renaissance’ with the purpose of showing you Super Junior’s music.” – Leeteuk, Super Junior’s leader in ‘The Renaissance’ online press conference.
Giving a kick start, ‘SUPER’ serves as the intro to the assorted album. Backed with the bass-lined synth and gritty instrumentals, it gives a peek into what the next nine tracks are going to sound like as it includes the vocal highlights from each track in the album. The lyrical accompaniment is refrained and catchy enough to be a fan-chant; also setting the tone that Super Junior is back in its full glory as every member together sings, “The scattered stars are finally in place / Time to turn the boring atmosphere around and steal your hеart again / The moment the dazzling light ovеrlaps it’s burning, shine.”
The jazzy funk of the disco-pop with the incorporated trap is what makes the ‘House Party’ worthy of being the title track. The theme of the song is built around the current Covid situation – to enjoy but with the new rules and restrictions that have come with the present times. The group wants you to have loads of fun with loved ones but with social distancing restrictions in mind. Hopefully, the future will be safer and better when all of us can rejoice together!
“According to the newly created rule / Great manners to protect each other / This is my house party (Come on now) / Good job, we’re almost there / Keep in step until the last person stands up.”
With vocals as good as Super Junior’s, the chorus is expectedly gaudy. The layering of the members’ voices is very suave and downy which does not overwhelm the upbeat track. It’s in the interlude after the second verse that the genre changes unexpectedly. It’s not your usual rap integrated into the beats of the playing song. Instead, it shifts the listener’s perspective completely to a new direction when Trap takes over for the next few seconds with Heechul and Siwon rapping over the pulses of the electric guitar. While the transition may seem a bit abrupt, the overall song gets its edge from this interlude. Nevertheless, the song comes a full circle at the outro and ends on an optimistic note!
BURN THE FLOOR
The next track ‘Burn The Floor’, takes the slow route to powerful theatrical grandiose. This is what exemplifies the firm feel of ‘The Renaissance’ – opera waltz touch to the orchestration, very dramatic and sultry. It invites the listener onto the floor for a sensual dance on a nightly rendezvous, “The night fell in the long darkness / You came to me who was lost / Bright red torch / You dragged me like I was possessed / Show me the hottest dance / That makes me breathless.” These lyrics create the Dyonisiac setting; the imagery of a wine glass overflowing with red wine befit the impression of the song.
The arrangement of the track is exceptional – the tabs and the chords used, especially the ad-lib falsetto during the equally resplendent chorus is heavenly yet haunting. This song is yet another example of the genre change used in the album. Although here the outro takes up Trap into the original arrangement, it doesn’t affect the song much overall, alternatively, it actually makes the song reach a more interesting end.
The track was first released at the 2020 Fact Music Awards as a teaser to this album:
Sustaining the laced tension in the air from the previous track, ‘Paradox’ heightens the feel on a more electric D&B House beat. We listen about the palatable hesitance to believe in what is the truth and the confusion that lures the singers in, creating the paradox, “Baby, why you staring at me like / I’m a clear light you see when you close your eyes? / The farther I try to go, the closer you get, what should I do?” Even when the skepticism lingers around danger, the members cannot hide away from the tantalizing bait of truth, hoping their hearts will help them figure out the reality.
The context of dance remains all the same as the preceding tracks for the use of laxed dubstep compels you to join the rhythm. The vocal notes used here remind of Second-generation K-Pop when whispery slivers were subsumed into the instrumentals. The chorus is definitely the highlight because of the beat drops and the appealing breathy touches that appear. However, the backdrop sung by Ryeowook during the outro is what brings the track to a gratifying end.
Giving a break from the dense listen, ‘Closer’ brings a more relaxed and fresh touch of tropical-synth house into the mix, setting up the vibrant mood for the upcoming tracks. The mellow composition of the track brings out its addictiveness. It hits a divine chorus that features Siwon, Yesung, and Eunhyuk at times. It’s the soft earworm that gets stuck in your mind and the voices just amplify the feeling. The sublime rhythm sets the mood for the private affairs of a couple so we wouldn’t suggest looking up the lyrics if you’re underage. Nevertheless, the song has abundant hooks for an easy listen, and a tone so captivating, it might end up on your playlist anyway!
‘The Melody’ is a toast to the seventeen years that Super Junior has been together as a group, as comrades, “Remember / More tomorrow than yesterday / We’ll be together / Everything in the world is different / Even if the time runs out / The only one that won’t change.” The song takes everyone on a trip down memory lane – their harsh trainee days, and the days when they wanted to give up. Now, all of those tough days are just memories to look back and a reminder that the group has stuck together through thick and thin and would continue as one even in the future.
As it was pre-released back in November 2020 on the occasion of the anniversary, the song is already familiar to the ears but it still does not fail to warm up the listener’s heart. The start is pleasantly acoustic, leading up to the whistled chorus which turns to the tropical house setting. The members harmonize on the pre-chorus, making it breezy and airy – one of the key points of the track. All-inclusive, the track is a feel-good song that you can sway to.
RAINING SPELL FOR LOVE
Super Junior takes us back to the good times of ’14 with the remake version of ‘Raining Spell For Love’ from the album ‘Mamacita‘. This new rendition of the original heart-breaking track is just as poignant. Where the ‘Mamacita’ version was more focused on R&B, its adaptation for ‘The Renaissance’ is pivoted more around acoustics – piano with underlined hints of pop and strong vocals. It’s lighter and wispy and the juxtaposition between the fresh vibes of the song and the emotional lyrics is an interesting combination to observe.
The proposition however remains the same – the poetic lyrics express the woes of a man who is hurting from a breakup and whose heart still houses lingering feelings for the one that got away, “The sky is cloudy and is spilling out tears / I call out to you from the top of my lungs / But еven the echo with your name / Gets locked in the rain / It’s okay if it swallows me / My heart won’t get wet / Love won’t stop.”
Last year, Super Junior held a poll event with their fans worldwide, ‘2020 Super Junior Awards’, which included the category of the “#1 Super Junior Song that Fans Want Remade”. The tallied votes from the fans revealed ‘Raining Spell For Love’ as the chosen track to be remade and hence it was rightly included in the tracklist.
As the title would give a hint, ‘Mystery’ is all about the enigma and conundrum of people who stall in letting their true feelings known (in this particular case – seemingly lovers), “Your voice, your expression, and your mouth, everything is a mystery / I’m waiting for you to tell me everything tonight, oh / Please let me know if I should approach you or stop / You are a mystery, my mystery.” The members sing to ask the true intentions of the listeners. Being tired of the tease, they ask for a direct and forward approach to love.
It has a beguiling layering of Tropical House and Future Bass, a genre that mostly 4th generation groups use, so Super Junior’s take on the genre is an appealing one. They embrace fragments of Dubstep and Jazz, making the track a jumbled mix of genres that blend well together. The whistling adds a refreshing and vogue effect. Altogether, the track carries well the vibrancy forward from the foregoing tracks.
MORE DAYS WITH YOU
As we head towards the end of this impressive album, the mood gets somber when ‘More Days With You’ comes on. Listeners are greeted with pacifying voices that ask them to stay with the singers for the times to come, whether good or bad. They ask for sincerity and unconditional love from the fans, as they sing, “You, only you, there are a lot more paths to walk than the path you are in / Sing it like you, I call you in the same way my heart did, at first sight, I do / Do you? Tell me, do you? / My heart is the same as it’s always been / Answer me at the end of this road, shall we go further?”
No words can accurately describe the immaculate vocalization that the members have shown in this track, especially Eunhyuk and Leeteuk who dominate the chorus in their most seraphic voices. The ballad is accompanied by acoustic guitar and a violin-piano composition and aims to touch your heart on the very first listen. The track finishes with added electric bass from the guitar, making a strong lasting imprint on the listener’s senses.
TELL ME BABY
Now we rightfully arrive at the end of the album, where Super Junior takes us back to reminisce the winters when spring is right around the corner. ‘Tell Me Baby’ ends the album on the jovial note – turning up to the jazzy tunes with a sprig of Country sprinkled through. Here we remember Christmas and the winter holidays as they sing, “Santa’s coming! When I was about seven years old / My friends teased me for thinking he was real / What if it’s not? Another thing you may not know / Come on, make a wish, just like I did back then.” They ask the listeners to make wishes and that they’ll make them come true. It’s the perfect ending to the album that aims to show the group’s new side along with the rejuvenation of the old and makes the listener end up wanting for more!
This track was also pre-released on the celebration of Christmas of 2020 with an adorable animated video:
The legacy of Super Junior continues in its magnificence as the album winds up on a buoyant note. It sums up all the distinct faces the group has – a friend, a lover, a companion. We take a journey through the emotions, starting from the impending loneliness the pandemic has imposed on us but we adapt and learn to dance the sorrows away – basking in love and wallowing in the heartbreak. We are the lovers who hesitate, the companions for life, and lastly, we enjoy the memories of the past together.
Hence, ‘The Renaissance’ fulfills its said intention. The entrancing mingling of current genres from a seventeen-year-old group justifies ‘the revival of the old with the blend of new’ rightfully. The sanguine euphony of the members that has led the group to stay together for these seventeen years is gladsome; an accomplishment that many older groups have failed to attain!