Hi! It’s Annie!
The ATEEZ comeback I’ve been waiting rather impatiently for all summer just dropped and there have been very few albums as worth the wait as this one was. I was so completely blown away in the middle of listening to this album that I almost started crying. I’m not sure I can even begin to describe how amazing this album is in words; but I’m certainly going to try! And ATEEZ always gives everyone so much to talk about with each comeback. Between lore about their MVs to their often experimental take on music; ATEEZ always has more than a few things to keep people buzzing after each comeback release. I also don’t think any group has come out with anything near the simultaneous lore, storytelling, and music quality that this album contains in quite a while. I have so much to gush about, so I’m just going to jump into it! Usually this isn’t necessary for an album, but there will be MAJOR SPOILERS for the ATEEZverse up ahead!
Though it is still unclear exactly where this fits into the lore, I’ve heard the word prequel tossed around. Which would make sense! Could this possibly be the beginning of the pirate ATEEZ or even the already rebellious HalaTEEZ? Either would make sense! Both versions of ATEEZ spread messages of hope and rebellion. As many of us noticed, the storyline for this MV closely followed the storyline ATEEZ presented in their performance of ‘Rhythm Ta’ on the show ‘Kingdom’. ATEEZ takes the form of a group of revolutionary rebels in an apocalyptic type world where human emotion has been outlawed. In this MV we see the secret operation that ATEEZ sets up in order to broadcast their message of revolution, including some insanely realistic looking disguises (CGI!). The MV depicts each of the members, hacking, stealing, and running away from officials to broadcast a message of rebellion and emotion to all the brainwashed citizens. Much of the video is depicted with them in some kind of recording studio delivering the message. Our main context as to where this would fit into the lore comes at the very end of the MV. Make sure to stay until the very end of the video, because we get a clip that is probably going to be really important going forward. ATEEZ is sitting in a warehouse with an older man who seems to be a mentor, when all of the security alarms go off. They gather around the security camera to see a young boy stumble through the gate to the warehouse, looking confused and wearing an academy uniform from the students being brainwashed by society earlier in the MV. Who is this kid? We have no idea. Who is the old mentor in the warehouse? He’s also a character we haven’t met. But I’m excited at the concept of new characters in the lore and what they might mean! Though the storyline didn’t immediately answer some of my questions, it’s clear from the full storyline here that ATEEZ is playing a much longer game than any of us probably expect. We’ve glimpsed the storyline of this for a while now! For example, we finally seem to have gotten the true identities of the faceless masked figures in many of their MVs as they are the society that ATEEZ fights against in this MV. I can’t wait to see where all of this goes!
This track is the non-traditional but typical introduction to any ATEEZ album. This isn’t a full song but more like a track to really set the mood and the world building of the album. The track features a type of siren going on in the background while a voice repeats a message (likely Hongjoong) pointing out the faults in society and asking the world to wake up. It ends with the ‘eyes in the sky’ message that we’ve come to connect to this comeback. But all of this is still a musical piece that has an addicting beat. It reminds the listener that this album isn’t just music. The album seeks to remind the listener that the story they’ve been advertising is just as much relevant to the music in the album as the MV itself.
This is the only song on this album other than ‘Guerilla’ that got a full stage performance for the comeback. The softer opening really struck me, especially because I loved the choreography with Yeosang, San, and Yunho at the very beginning of the performance. Lyrically, this song specifically tackles the lies in society, uncovering them no matter how painful they may be, and listening to your gut instincts. Even lyrically this song fits in with the storyline. The song goes from the softer beginning vocals of Yeosang to the strong vocals of our maknae ace Jongho. I have to say, it was really nice to hear Yeosang begin this one. This isn’t one of their more experimental tracks from this album, but it is absolutely up to par with anything that ATEEZ does. Everything that they release is excellent, no exceptions.
This song completely took my breath away when I first listened to it. This is the first of the songs that feel experimental to me in how they combine music with vocals. Listening to this album feels like listening to an epic movie soundtrack with vocals. I have never heard an album that wasn’t a soundtrack piece that sounded this epic. You could easily put this album over an amazing action movie and it would fit perfectly! Of course, with the storyline there, ATEEZ kind of made a movie of their own! This is also one of my favorite songs lyrically. It not only reflects the storyline, but it also is incredibly relatable after having experienced quarantine. The song talks about feelings of numbness and wanting to feel alive despite the darkness we’re living in. It even questions the meaning of life and expresses the wish of knowing some sort of answer to that question when things start feeling meaningless. Of course, all of this is coupled with a rebellious message. One of the things that struck me about this song too was how much every member was included. Almost the entire vocal line take turns with the chorus and the rap line really pull through with the hard hitting lyrics and a flow that perfectly matches the song. This has to be one of the most evened out songs I’ve heard from any group in a while and they all do such an excellent job on each of their pieces.
I don’t even know where to begin with this song. It begins so strongly with a Hongjoong rap right off the bat. I always love both Hongjoong and Mingi’s style of rapping, but they both go so hard for this song. Starting out with one of the best Hongjoong raps I’ve ever heard, and one of my favorite raps in general, was such an eye opening moment. Mingi also delivers one of the best later in the song. I love the elements of screamo used in here, I wasn’t expecting them at all and it was incredible! ATEEZ only succeeds in making their songs more hype with every comeback! This song is not only a call to action but it makes some really good points about human emotion. It comes with the message that any emotion is good emotion and that you shouldn’t just push emotions away because they’re uncomfortable sometimes. Their choreography also just seems to get that much more difficult with every comeback. They put such a huge emphasis on Yunho being center in several moments, which makes sense as they have actually started introducing him as main dancer, as of the comeback showcase, since the Yunho debacle and fandom arguments that happened earlier this year. Also, San’s soft high notes are a high point for the song and were not a piece I expected from a song this hard hitting. Though, as always, everyone delivers equally with this. And this entire group is made up of some of the strongest dancers in K-Pop.
This is probably my favorite song off of this album. It hit me so hard the first time I heard it that a song that isn’t necessarily supposed to be emotional almost drove me to tears. The musical elements of the song could be my new favorite movie soundtrack piece if it had been in a movie. The song depicts a world of darkness and sadness where ATEEZ promises to defend and protect us. A message that has always been clear with ATEEZ. Even last year when they were here for their concert, many of them expressed that in this hard time they always wanted Atiny to feel like we could lean on them. This is the action-packed epic promise of those statements. The rapping in this song from Hongjoong and Mingi has a determined softness to it that almost sounds dangerous. Jongho echoes all of us when he croons that he’s not ok with his otherworldly voice. Yeosang begins the song, once again (yay!), encouraging us to follow him with his enrapturing deep vocals. And Yunho follows Jongho’s vocals with vocals that are somehow just as strong as Jongho’s! How is this group this talented? Seonghwa and San do the repeated chorus that feels like something you could fight to. Wooyoung’s almost rap vocals matches the song perfectly, though I wish we would have gotten a little more there. Otherwise, this song is perfect. I can’t stop listening to it! And it quotes ‘Lord of the Rings’ at the end as the song talks about their power and ends with the ominous “one ring to rule them all, one ring to bring them all” from LOTR. I’m obsessed!
‘WDIG (Where Do I Go)’:
This song is another epic dive into relatable insecurity. The song described feeling lost within darkness and wondering what to do and where to go. Once again, I’m getting a bit of a lack of Wooyoung. While the song is pretty divided between everyone else, I’m kind of sensing that Wooyoung is the Yeosang of this album. Yeosang got so much more to do with this particular album and I am so happy for that! I just wish that Wooyoung also would have gotten a little more. But this song feels like the apocalyptic theme for the album. The sounds feel very, well, cyberpunk, though that’s a completely different song. It has the amazing cyberpunk feeling backtrack with the almost somber but hopeful feel to the vocals. Another soundtrack feeling piece as well.
This song actually has quite a bit of Wooyoung in it; in fact it has a lot of him in it! While this doesn’t necessarily make up for some of the other pieces, it’s nice to see that it doesn’t extend to the entire album. And really I don’t want to blame anyone for this because I know that ATEEZ has a say in what they each sing and I also know that Wooyoung has been stepping up massively with learning more and more choreography. This is a beautiful ending to the album simply because of how completely hopeful it is. While the other songs talk about the darkness and confusion of an apocalyptic world, this song expresses hope for the new world. It even encourages the listener by saying that even one ray of light is enough to keep going. A message that I am absolutely in love with! It’s another call to action mixed with hope both in lyrics and in the melody. The members of ATEEZ encourage us to take their hands and follow them into this new world, and I know that I’m going to be following ATEEZ straight into that happiness.
Also, since this album came out they also announced a tour at the end of the year! Hongjoong said that they were coming back this year and they really weren’t kidding! I’m going to do anything I possibly can to get to that concert in November. I just hope that ATEEZ gets a well needed break soon and that they aren’t being overworked. For obvious reasons, I feel the well being of artists is more important than ever and all of them should take breaks should they need them. This is one of my favorite albums I’ve ever witnessed a comeback for and I already know that I’ll miss listening to all of these songs for the first time. If you haven’t already given this album a listen, go and do that now! You won’t regret it! I promise you, this will be one of your new favorite albums! And ATEEZ has already broken records and sold more than any group outside of the big four with this album! The last group to challenge the big companies like that was BTS; so I am so beyond proud of them!
See you across the pond!