It has been awhile since we last saw Ateez, and with Mingi joining promotions this time, their comeback feels a lot more special. Much like past releases since “Inception”, the group allowed fans to vote on what should be their upcoming track. For their latest album, Zero: Fever Part 3, fans had to choose between the light “Eternal Sunshine” and the dark “Deja Vu”. As we approach autumn, it is no surprise that “Deja Vu” won, with fans opting for a darker sound that fits with the overall theme of the Fever series, as well matching the sexy and sultry energy fall songs tend to bring. Unfortunately, as catchy as “Deja Vu” is, it is considerably disappointing in comparison to their previous releases.

When the Treasure series came to end, many fans, including myself, had high expectations for what was to come. After all, Treasure was a journey from beginning to end, chronicling Ateez’s personal experiences as rookies and their struggles. We were brought on an adventure with them, seeking out self-enlightenment as well as “treasure” in various metaphorical forms, and this came to a close with “Answer”. However, this concluding chapter implied that the series was just the first of many treasures we would find, and their journey was far from over.

The Treasure series was an experience, and was truly a joy to listen to back to back. Because of the high expectations set by Treasure, Ateez’s Fever series falls incredibly short. The title tracks, although catchy, unfortunately do not have the same impact as the past releases, and “Deja Vu” is no different. It lacks Ateez’s personal flair and unique take on music, and instead, all we are given is generic dance music (not that there’s anything wrong with generic dance music, but because I hold Ateez to a higher standard, I expected more).

Musically, it is not as captivating as “Wonderland” or even their debut track, “Pirate King”. “Deja Vu” becomes more interesting during the rap verses, with Hongjoong and Mingi delivering chill, laidback, and whisper-esque raps. Their verses made me think that the vocals were going to change and push the track to new heights, but instead, it returned to the standard dance song. I was left wanting more, and not exactly in a positive way.

Previous Ateez releases often switched up their sound halfway through the song or even towards the end, and despite the fact the change was sometimes jarring, it ultimately pushed the song further and left a deep impression on the listener once it was over. Sadly, these changes can hardly be seen in the Fever series, and it is disappointing to see that such surprises no longer exist, or at least, do not exist in any of the Fever albums.

The “Deja Vu” MV is pretty standard and straightforward as well, with many choreography shots, as well as aesthetically pleasing shots of the members. When the group started performing in the rain, the MV felt more dynamic and exciting to watch, but there was not much to note. Although Ateez has had a bit of a storyline that links each MV together since they debuted, said storyline has been pushed to the back, with the hatted man making a short appearance before we moved on to more choreography sequences. With the purpose of the hatted man remaining a mystery for fans to solve, it felt very cheap for the MV to feature said character, but add absolutely nothing to the main storyline. If anything, it felt like a small reminder that the story of the hatted man was still going on, but it has no relation to the MV that you are currently watching.

It is very unfortunate that there is not much to say about this comeback, especially since Ateez’s Treasure series was one of my favourite releases of 2019. “Deja Vu” on its own is still a relatively catchy song with an amazing groove to it, and it may not be good to compare it against previous releases. But after knowing what the group can do with their music, it is difficult not to make any comparisons. Ateez have been releasing solid songs, but I am hoping that we can get a taste of that personal flair that is sorely lacking in their recent comebacks.

(YouTube. Images via KQ Entertainment)