[Review] ATEEZ suffer from treatment of vocals on “Fireworks”

ATEEZ’s years-long Treasure project remains one of K-pop’s most daring works – exciting, inventive and packed with killer songs. But so far, I’m not feeling the “Fever.” This follow-up project now has two mini albums under its belt. I thought its opening salvo, released last summer, was fine even if it felt more like a holding pattern than an evolution. But now the guys have returned with Fireworks (I’m The One), which is easily their most disappointing single.

The problem is that this track feels like more of the same, minus many of the elements that made their past hits so dynamic. I’m surprised, given that Fireworks is composed by the same team who have steered ATEEZ to such success. But rather than utilize their popularity to push the envelope, the track refashions so many old tropes and throws some truly ugly vocal processing over the top.

I’m not sure I can adequately state how much I dislike the effects slathered over many of the vocals here. This approach never really bothered me on past ATEEZ tracks, but it’s pushed to the extreme here and Fireworks suffers greatly from it. The verses are the main victim of this effect. They crawl to a slow broil, without much in the way of melodic interest to make them dynamic or fresh. The chorus is a bit stronger, though its chant-heavy nature doesn’t hold any surprises. The instrumental during these moments is unnecessarily busy, but none of its elements stand out as defining or memorable. Honestly, it’s just kind of noisy and obnoxious, without the inventive structure or exciting build I’d expect from an ATEEZ title track. What a bummer.

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