2017 seems to be a restless year for the boys of Seventeen. After releasing a mini album in May, they are building up hype for their second full album with a series of pre-releases. The group is divided in three units: Hip-Hop Unit, Performance Unit, and Vocal Unit. Each of these units (including a new special one consisting of the three leaders S-Coups, Hoshi and Woozi) got to showcase their best talents by releasing a single as part of the Before Al1 project.

On October 16th, the Vocal Unit (Jeonghan, Joshua, Woozi, DK and Seungkwan) came out with the sweet mid-tempo ballad “Pinwheel”. Given that we’re talking about a team whose strength is vocals, it was easy to expect a ballad, but unlike most mid-tempo ballads that eventually sound flat and dull, “Pinwheel” grows nicely and ends up being anything but boring.

When listening to “Pinwheel,” what stands out the most is the way is the song is dominated by piano: piano opens, serves as transition between verses, and also closes the song. Strings explode triumphant during the choruses and bridge, helping make “Pinwheel” even more emotional. The emotion is then sustained by never-aggressive drums. Despite the melody not being particularly outstanding, it is easy to remember and it is not hard to imagine fans singing it along with Seventeen, especially the first part of the chorus delivered by Woozi’s soft, emotional vocals.

From the Vocal Unit one expects nothing but a great performance, and in this sense Seventeen did not disappoint. All five members have different vocal colors that blend together perfectly. The most outstanding vocal performance is probably DK’s, whose pre-choruses sounded very smooth and emotional. Seungkwan shows why he’s the main vocal by sounding the most solid and crisp during his parts, especially in the bridge where he gets to belt the highest notes. Jeonghan and Joshua’s more delicate vocal colors support the song’s structure nicely, while Woozi’s singing is the most heartfelt and will likely guide fans’ voices as they sing to “Pinwheel” together with the group.

Adding to the vocals, are the sentimental lyrics about parting ways with someone dear. Yet the lyrics leave the door open about the chance for the two to meet again in the future, where feelings will stay unchanged. The atmosphere overall is very delicate and evokes a strong image of autumn, when temperatures drop, it is often drizzling and the wind gets colder. This feeling doesn’t just come from the music video, where the boys rock wool coats, turtle neck sweaters and knit cardigans, but also from mentions of the “cold wind keeps blowing” in the lyrics.

Music videos for ballads tend to be rather simple, and “Pinwheel”‘s is no exception in fact there is no storyline. In the first half of the MV there is not much going on, except the members of Vocal Unit staring at the air with a pensive gaze, probably thinking of the person they parted ways with as they mouth the words to the song. Then towards the end they start running: this doesn’t seem to have a specific meaning other than adding a dramatic vibe to the music video. Still there is no need for a complex storyline or elaborated sets: it is a case where less is more.

Cold tones of green, grey and blue dominate the photography and help creating a melancholic atmosphere. This is especially evident in shots where Seungkwan is in the car and Jeonghan sits on the fence. Other than blue and green, grey is another colour which has been used very often to express the vibe that goes with the song, especially in the sky, which is always cloudy. Excellent post-production applied grey filter has been to the images, helping to strengthen the feeling of a cold autumn morning. Not to mention, it gives the music video a trendy, Instagram-like look.

It is well-known that Seventeen is a multi-talented group whose performances focus on a mix of complicated dance routines, powerful rapping, and singing. For such a group, the chances to properly showcase the abilities of its vocalists are slim — especially when considering that there are 13 members and each gets no more than a few lines in a group song. It is very interesting when the vocalists are given some space and the public gets to witness how talented they actually are and how they can make a song sound so different from usual releases from the whole group.

With “Pinwheel”, Vocal Unit got to showcase their best talents, through a simple song with a delicate music video, while never coming off as boring. Mid-tempo ballads in this case are a huge risk, but the five members did a great job into creating a dynamic and tender song, perfectly conveying the mood of an autumn day. If “Pinwheel” was a title track it probably would have been called underwhelming, but it is just a pre-release, and as such, it is excellent.

(Images via Pledis Entertainment, YouTube)