At the end of May 2022, SEVENTEEN released their fourth full-length album Face the Sun, an album that has broken more sales records for the thirteen member group, and was quickly followed up by the Seoul leg of their tour. At the end of their last day in Seoul’s Gocheok Sky Dome, the group dropped a teaser for what many fans were anticipating: that the group would be releasing a repackage of the album (essentially a deluxe version of the original record), before the group hits ventures out on the US and Asia legs of their Be the Sun tour.
Title track ‘_WORLD’ leads the way, with the group presenting three minutes of perfect, joyful, funky disco-city pop. The bright horns and synths give the song a celebratory feel throughout and is a complete contrast to the rock-hip-hop energy that burned through their last title track ‘HOT’. If ‘HOT’ is the soundtrack to your summer daytime, ‘_WORLD’ is created for those glittering, anything-is-possible summer nights.
It has been a hot minute since SEVENTEEN’s leader line — S.Coups, Hoshi and Woozi — have released a track together. The last time was during the group’s 2nd full-length album Teen, age when they dropped the legendary ‘Change Up’. Anticipation could not have been higher for ‘CHEERS’ and what a follow up to its older sister it is. Aside from the fact its choreography is making its rounds on TikTok right now (and rightly so), out of all the new repackage tracks it is the one that fits in best with the overall sound of Face the Sun; thus it makes sense that it serves as the bridge between the new tracks and the rest of the album, since it features as the last of the new songs on the tracklist.
The Korean language version of ‘Fallin’ Flower’ is placed third out of the new tracks on this repackage, though its original Japanese language version has been out for over two years. The song is arguably the group’s most beautiful Japanese language single and it’s breezy, string-laden instrumental fits in well with the overall tone of the bright, optimistic repackage.
Ballad ‘Circles’ kicks off proceedings as the first of the new songs on the tracklist. It’s a classic ballad that takes things back to basics, with a piano-focused intrumental joined by, on varying occassions, guitar, the odd beat and, at its climaxes, a choir of children. In the hands of another artist such a combo might come across as overly cheesy, but in SEVENTEEN’s always-earnest hands it comes across as a sincere understanding of ones good and bad times, a message of comfort and tenderness truly felt. Just like Face the Sun opener ‘Darl+ing’, it is a song sung directly to casual listeners and fans (also known as CARATs), and is one of the most intimate tracks the group has ever released.
Overall, it makes sense why these four new tracks were not included in the original release of Face the Sun, an album that holds up as one of the group’s most cohesive pieces of work in their entire discography both sonically and thematically. The new tracks add a much more carefree, hopeful and summery feel to the entire album, with ‘Circles’ in particular setting the tone for SECTOR 17 as an album which also touches upon the relationship the group has with its listeners and CARATs in a deeply heartfelt and soothing manner.
In some records you can imagine the expressions of the artists recording it before you even see a music video: SECTOR 17 is an album that seems to be smiling at you from across the airwaves, sending you thumbs ups and reminding you that the sun is always to be found behind the next cloud. Face the Sun was already such a solid album that an expansion was arguably unnecessary (why fix what isn’t broke?) but these new offerings instead add further colours and emotions to the record in way that rounds it out as an even more complete summer soundtrack, with a song for every moment.
It is incredibly unlikely that we will see a new SEVENTEEN record before 2023, given that the group will be touring for the rest of 2022, but they have certainly left casual listeners and CARATS with more than enough goodness to enjoy until then.