It’s safe to say that 2011 has been very good to Infinite. With multiple releases and so many different opportunities for exposure, including Japan, Infinite have indeed cemented their place in K-Pop this year. And of course, to cap off the year, “Lately” is Infinite’s last hurrah for 2011.

“Lately” is being pushed as Infinite’s Christmas offering, and they’ve really captured one aspect of Christmas, all while maintaining they’re distinct sound. Since their debut, the seven-piece have been known for catchy guitar lines, slick melodies with a pinch of harmony thrown in for good measure, and catchy hooks — you hear all of those on “Lately”. The harder thing to do, however, is make something distinctly Infinite sound distinctly Christmas.

Christmas songs are all about familiarity, and so majority of the time, when people try to stray from the familiar and the formulaic, they end up straying from the Christmas sound all together. And there’s much, much more to Christmas songs than lyrics concerning snow and presents. So basically, acts, and songwriters, have to choose between sounding like Christmas, and sounding themselves. And so “Lately”, which has managed to do both, really is something extraordinary. You hear the Christmas in the song and it will leave you all tingly, but as I said, there’s no mistaking that it’s an Infinite song.

It’s in the way the instruments and the elements were executed that everything came together. The guitar line, instead of playing something very dark, stays rather happy-sounding for majority of the song. And the strings, which have been used before in previous Infinite releases such as “Paradise“, instead of contributing to a very serious sound, manage to soar above the entire song. Yet another thing that they’ve gotten spot-on with “Lately” is the instrumental during the rap part, which again puts a spotlight on the string section. “Lately” wraps up like one, gigantic, epic Christmas song, before fading out into just bells and harmonies.

And, of course, the melody and the vocals do a lot for the over-all feel of the song as well. The group’s vocals have gotten significantly better, and they’ve all pretty much found what works for them, both as individuals and as a group, so all the solo parts were very well-sung, and the harmonies were all there. The contrast between rich and slightly crisp vocals gives the song added dimension, as well as that Christmassy feel.

Infinite’s “Lately” is definitely one of the better Christmas-themed songs to come out this year, because it creates a balance between the Infinite sound and the Christmas feel. After all, music is half heard and half felt.