Got7 is back with their first release of 2018. Following 7 for 7, Got7’s eighth mini-album—Eyes On You—sounds just as promising. With the title track “Look”, the stylistic elements that characterize the group’s music seem to have been concretized. The members have actively participated in the production of the songs this time around, so Eyes On You would be an honest glimpse into the group’s artistry.

Got7 has tried very hard to shed the cutesy concepts that they started out with using a string of releases such as “Never Ever” and “Hard Carry”. Their new sound in these releases turned towards a focus on strong instrumentals, but with “You Are”, they finally let their voices shine. In Eyes On You, the lens is back on their singing skills, but they are still continuing in the direction of songs with strong backing tracks that do not do as much justice to their voices as they deserve.

The title track, “Look”, is heavy on EDM. The song is a mixed bag of unique sounds and the usual tropes that Got7 are known for. Sadly, the melodies do not let the timbre of Youngjae’s voice shine. JB’s production prowess passed the test with a well-directed and unconventional bridge. The track is interspersed with great rap segments, but although they managed to come through the heavy instrumentals, the rappers sounded rough around the edges. The visuals of the MV have hit the bull’s-eye as usual–they are not overpowering despite leaning quite a bit on special effects–and I desperately wanted the song to do the same, but it does not manage to achieve the same balance.

A possible contender for the title would definitely have been the pre-release track, “One and Only You”, featuring Hyorin. I was skeptical of the collaboration but “One and Only You” is unexpectedly great. Idol groups hardly ever release songs featuring other artists, given how there are barely enough lines for each member, not to mention the feature artist. But Hyorin and Got7’s openness to such an opportunity delivered: Hyorin’s voice went hand in glove with each of the Got7 members’. An addictive flute-like tune in the background cements this song, and the smooth, gliding harmonies produced a chorus that hooks you in completely.

Eyes on You is like a jack in the box. Surprises await the listener at every corner: Yugyeom’s “Us”, the dark horse of the mini, caught me off guard. Written as a continuation of their older song “To Me”, “Us” is sultry, bordering on sexy, and a definite contrast to the image of a maknae. “Hesitate” and “The Reason” have a similar feel going for them, but with vastly different sounds. It’s commendable when songs are able to convey a common emotion in innovative ways. “Hesitate”, written by Youngjae, is characterized by an underlying guitar motif that becomes apparent during Jackson’s rap segments. There’s also a cool shift from an acoustic guitar to an electric one in the movement from the bridge to the chorus. The hard work that Got7 have put into breaking the mold of their previous concepts and sounds is evident in their song writing.

BamBam’s track, “The Reason”, is where the vocal line grabs the spotlight with their intricately rendered high notes in the chorus. There are unexpected precipices and highs that provide a rolling effect. This keeps the relatively slow-paced song safe from being boring. There’s definitely something dreamy about the song, a vibe alluded to in the lyrics:

If it’s a dream,
I don’t want to wake up from it
When happy memories turn sad
Just remember this moment

Although most songs in Eyes On You deliver, Jinyoung’s “Thank You” is a stand out. Jackson and Bambam have dabbled in singing for the song with excellent results. The bass of the drums that is a constant throughout makes the song refreshing and uplifting, and the track does not dissolve into a stupor at any point. It’s a stunning way to wrap the album and also thank the fans for their constant support.

During a press conference, JB expressed the group’s desire to release more mature music since they’ve completed four years in the industry. It is a constant struggle for artists to be true to their sound while also experimenting, so it is heartening to hear Got7’s growth through the years. It has been one of JYP Entertainment’s better decisions to let the members participate fully in the songwriting process. Despite some imperfections, Got7 is finally finding their musical footing with Eyes On You.

(Spotsvnews, YouTube, Lyrics via Sheedalyrix Images via JYP Entertainment)