Seoulbeats is run by fans and not-for-profit. As we celebrate our 14th anniversary this July, we are running a fundraiser. If you like our content, please consider supporting us at ko-fi.com/seoulbeats!
Just over a year ago, all thirteen members of Seventeen re-signed their contracts for another five years with their label, Pledis Entertainment. Since then, the group has made it their mission to show newer, never-before-seen sides of themselves to the world, most notably with their first full length album in nearly three years, Face the Sun.
And that they did, from the album’s lead single “Hot,” a loud, multilayered track brimming with sizzling energy, to “Darl+ing,” the group’s first all-English track — plus new sounds and styles embedded in between. Now, just a few weeks after the release of Face the Sun, the group is already back with its repackaged version, Sector 17.
For an album whose leading track, “_World,” invites listeners into a “new world” (“Come to me/In my, in my, in my new world”), Sector 17 as a whole is surprisingly full of familiarity — and that’s not entirely a bad thing. All three new tracks on the album, “_World,” “Circles,” and “Cheers,” have a lightness and easiness to them, as each harnesses an aspect of signature traits Seventeen are best known for.
For starters, “_World” is easily the most recognizably “Seventeen” of the new tracks. Although the song’s genre of urban R&B isn’t one the group tackles too often in their discography, its retro horn instrumentals, light disco influences, and soft and smooth vocals give it that quintessential “Freshteen” flare that Seventeen have owned practically since their debut.
The track stays consistently ear-wormy throughout, thanks to a prevalent but simple beat that allows for Seventeen’s vocals, especially in the chorus, to shine and pull listeners in. “_World” doesn’t have any truly explosive moments, as with “Hot,” but that’s part of its charm. Its main standout moments come in the form of quick but memorable vocal bits, including Vernon’s rap verse at the beginning of the second verse (“Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door”/”Run your fingers tips over the whipped cream cloud”) and Hoshi’s backing ad libs during the second chorus.
If “Hot” was a daring leap into Seventeen’s darker and noisier side, “_World” is quite the opposite: bright, airy, uncomplicated, and almost routine. As the group intended, this new title track is the perfect contrast to the unexpected nature of “Hot,” as well as a continuation of the story told in Face the Sun. It’s certainly not one of their most standout tracks. But, for a repackaged album, it’s also not a given that that’s what it was intended to be anyways.
Despite the track erring on the side of conventionality, its MV magnifies Seventeen’s signature freshness and dazzling energy. The MV opens on members Jun, Joshua, and Seungkwan, then the whole group, as they find themselves in a dusty, sand-filled, and evidently new world (hence the track’s title, “_World”). The dustiness is quickly swapped for a bright shot of leader S.coups exiting a yellow taxi in front of an airport departure and arrivals entrance. The cheerful expression on his face as he sings “Hey, I’ve had my eyes on you/We just met but it’s been fun, I wanna know more” already signals an excitement for this “new world” Seventeen are in, both inside and outside the MV.
The MV then smoothly transitions from one member to the next in what appears to be one continuous shot. Subtle wind smoothly blows through each member’s hair, as they all wear a crisp white top and jeans still suited to their individual styles. The members’ fresh outfits paired with the set’s vivid and colorful accent props and pieces, including assorted bunches of flowers, make for a scene entirely reminiscent of the overall look and feel of their “Ready to Love” MV from 2021 — another classic piece of “Freshteen” canon.
As the MV transitions out of its first choreography scene and from day to night, the members swap their semi-matching white top and blue jeans outfits for dark-colored, sequin-loaded ensembles to fit the nighttime scenery and color scheme. The sequins and glitter on the members’ outfits twinkle entrancingly under the set’s various neon signs, including one that reads “Sector 17” in bright blue lights as a nod to the album’s title. Although their outfits aren’t exactly matching during these scenes, their similar look and color is also a subtle callback to their matching bomber jackets from their “Boom Boom” MV — yet another return to a trademark Seventeen moment, even as they enter this new era six years later.
The MV really packs its punch in its dance scenes, which, as expected, showcase an addicting but disciplined choreography from a notoriously synchronized Seventeen. Put together, the moves are cute, fluid, and light, completely opposite of those in “Hot,” heightening the track’s happy and easygoing vibe.
Fittingly, the remaining new tracks on Sector 17 are similarly laid-back and unpressured in feel too. Beloved Japanese single “Fallin’ Flower” makes an appearance on the album, this time in Korean, to accompany the breezy and nostalgic flare of “_World.” “Circles” is an emotional ballad, but one that still has a lax atmosphere to it, mostly thanks to the melodic refrain of “la-la-la”’s sung by a children’s choir along with all of the members. Although its melody isn’t the most unique or memorable, “Circles” especially points to one thing Seventeen have mastered at this point in their career: connecting with their fans, Carats, on an emotional and personal level through their lyrics.
Throughout the track, Seventeen use the metaphor of a clock’s hands going “in circles back to their places” as a reminder to their fans that even when bad or sad moments come, they will eventually pass, and life will return to how it once was before those times:
Let’s sing together
To cover the sadness with the powerful song
It’s gonna be okay, like the hands on the clock
They’ll go in circles back to their places
Although these poignant lyrics paired with a children’s choir also chiming in to sing some of the song may feel over-the-top during some parts, “Circles” still harnesses a special kind of familiarity and sentimentality that Seventeen’s fans will surely appreciate.
As a final addition to Sector 17 and callback to Seventeen’s familiar ways, the group’s “leader line,” comprised of vocal unit leader Woozi, hip hop unit leader S.coups, and performance unit leader Hoshi, also released “Cheers.” A follow-up to their last leader-line track, 2017’s “Change Up,” “Cheers” actually feels like more of a continuation of “Hot,” or even “Ash.” The track features a prominent flute but eccentric flute motif (similar to the whistle motif in “Hot”), multilayered production, and heavily processed vocals (as in “Ash”). Written by the three leaders along with Vernon, “Cheers” also includes cheeky, humorous lyrics to match the leaders’ notably playful personalities that they frequently showcase both on- and off-stage:
“Do we like us? I don’t give a buck, bro
Increasing digits, crashing waterfalls
Blurtin’ out with no filter, adjust later
Dance like us, my butt, bam-bam”
Aside from the heavy vocal processing in the song that especially likens it to many moments from Face the Sun, there are other experimental vocal and stylistic choices that give “Cheers” an overall aura of newness and experimentality to it. For example, during the third verse, S.coups raps the second half of his lines in an entrancing but almost growl-like whisper. In the second verse, when Hoshi sings the line “Yeah, yeah, 808 bass out shit,” the censorship beeping sound effect often heard on TV when someone utters a swear word instead bleeps after Hoshi already utters the entire verse.
Whereas Face the Sun ushered in much of the new, Sector 17’s new tracks harness some of the old, bringing Seventeen back down to earth to remind listeners what they’re all about, where they came from, and what they do best. While there’s still a glimmer of newness here and there, it’s nothing completely out of the ordinary, although that’s where Seventeen seem to shine the brightest. As we continue to delve into Seventeen’s “new world,” following Sector 17, we can’t wait to see where they take us next.