[Review] Super Junior adds a bizarre breakdown to an otherwise generically fun “House Party”

Super Junior have titled their milestone tenth album “The Renaissance,” which conjures images of regality and refinement. To me, the group have always been more about amiable, self-deprecating personality, which makes the concept feel like an odd fit. But as far as I can tell, the title has little to do with the music itself, as evidenced by new single House Party.

Apparently, the arrangement of this track is the reason for The Renaissance’s many delays. It just wasn’t working. And, you have ask yourself: “if it took so much work to get this right, was it a good idea in the first place?” If Super Junior were to ask me (spoiler: they didn’t), my answer would be an exclamatory “NO!” It would probably also involve some dramatic arm flourishes and a follow-up interview just to make sure they didn’t end up going down this road despite warnings.

What I’m referencing, of course, is House Party’s misguided “trap” concept. It’s as if the group set out to make K-pop’s most egregious example of “ill-placed breakdown ruining a second verse.” You’ve heard me complain about these tempo-shifting breakdowns so often before, but rarely has a song actually been built around the idea.

House Party opens as a fun, brass-kissed funk pop track, the likes of which Super Junior have delivered many times before. It feels like a victory lap – not particularly notable, but a good time. The chorus is especially nice, as the splashy hook takes advantage of their layered vocals. The opening verse is largely spoken. I guess you can call it rap, but it feels more like Super Junior just being Super Junior.

Then, we hit that second verse. Everything seems to be cruising along swimmingly until House Party lurches into a different song entirely. This switch-up is poorly incorporated into the track. It shares no connective tissue with the instrumental surrounding it, resulting in a jarring pastiche of the trap genre. As its own song, this might have been fun (especially the electric guitar), but its presence here absolutely kills House Party’s momentum. The transition out of this segment (complete with the requisite “skrrt skrrt”) is just awful. And, it’s awfully disappointing, because the following chorus is really great. I eagerly await an edit — either fan-made or official — that streamlines House Party. As it stands, I’m not even sure how to review a song as sonically lopsided as this.

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