[Review] Super Junior hit highs and lows on “I Think I”

Over the course of the past eight years, Super Junior have offered a template for how to deal with Korea’s mandatory military enlistment. Though they’ve promoted almost every year, the group hasn’t been whole since 2011. Now that all of their active members have finished serving, the current 9-member configuration is as close as we’re going to get. The guys are releasing a full album on October 14th, and have been teasing various tracks leading up to their official comeback. I Think I is the album’s most polished pre-release yet, complete with a hypnotic music video. While it’s a fine song in its own right, its main purpose seems to be as an olive branch to the group’s sizable Latin fan base.

Super Junior spent all of 2018 catering to this sound, first with Lo Siento and later with (the appropriately titled) One More Time. Both songs were duets with international artists, and felt a little too gimmicky for my taste. I Think I retains the strong Latin influence, but melds it more seamlessly with Super Junior’s post-2015 sound. It’s a refined production that prefers a slow roll-out over a dramatic arrangement designed to hit listeners over the head. This approach would have made for an underwhelming title track, but it works fine as a pre-release.

I Think I’s verses feel constrained by the specificity of the track’s instrumental, without much of a melodic appeal. The members sound great, but their sing-talk delivery doesn’t offer any memorable moments. The chorus is much stronger. The brass amps up and the vocals are layered to forge an ultra-smooth refrain that hits like a wave. I’m not sure how this hook will play in the long term, but its classic charm certainly feels welcome now. Comparatively, the awful triplet-flow rap during the bridge sticks out like a sore thumb, proving that Super Junior are at their best when they stay away from this era’s more egregious trends.

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