November ended with a bang with a slew of releases I really enjoy. Plenty of long awaited comebacks right before the holidays.
IU - Blueming
The queen is back with one of my favorite albums of the year with Blueming as the title track. From the first guitar riff, Blueming sounds like something straight out of the 90’s US radio. The song is light and refreshing as winter startts. IU’s vocals are always great especially when layered. The post-chorus hook is extremely catchy and she sells that energy making you want to dance.
IU - Above The Time (시간의 바깥)
Above The Time is classic IU albeit with a few twists. The song feels like it came straight from a musical with swelling strings especially IU’s soaring vocals during the chorus. About two thirds, Above The Time has a quirky dance break reminiscent of Irish dancing with playful fiddling. The random tempo change may not sit well with others but the grandiose nature of the song makes it pretty thrilling for me.
TXT - Magic Island
I must admit with their latest album, TXT has grown on me. Magic Island is a serene, melodic song that speaks to me. Atmospheric synths and a soft refrain create a hushed, dreamlike vibe that not many groups tackle. The simplicity of the song draws the listener to pay attention to the little details.
Golden Child - Wannabe
Opening with dark, atmospheric synths, Wannabe starts a bit empty allowing the vocals to shine. From there, the song doesn’t let up with a distorted electronic sample. I really enjoy the idiosyncratic instrumental throughout the song and how the second verse changes things up. The constant ebb and flow keeps the momentum building but never really hits its peak. Nevertheless, this new sound from Golden Child is interesting and I hope it means more music from them.
Cosmic Girls (WJSN) - As You Wish (이루리)
With every comeback, I’m becoming an Ujung (fan club name). As You Wish is a very melodically compelling song opening with a synth loop forming the foundation of the song. Starting with heavy synth percussion before slowing down and ending with an EDM build, As You Wish’s chorus explodes with dancing fervor. The highlight is when the girls sing in unison during the final moments ending the song on a high note.
AOA - Come See Me (날 보러 와요)
Fresh from their appearance on Queendom, AOA’s Come See Me came at a perfect time with the public falling in love with this group again. The first moments present a Eurodance meets Western-like synth motif that builds into a classic EDM approach. Instead of a beat drop, the listener is hit with a two-part chorus with Jimin’s “heys”. The song is predictable, but that doesn’t change that Come See Me is catchy, pop package.
JYP - Fever (feat. Superbee & Bibi)
A classic JYP song, Fever has a swing beat with splashes of brass and finger-snaps. JYP uses his talk-singing and his charismatic delivery sells the song. The song provides a burst of energy albeit forgettable when the groove is over. Even though the song brings nothing new or noteworthy, Fever has a refreshing, timeless sound.
AWEEK - Breathe
Breathe is a hard-hitting dance track that doesn’t relent. Propulsive beats and the energy give the song plenty of momentum. It is a constant build and the occasional rough synths give the instrumental more umph. Although the vocals don’t really standout, the breakneck pace gives the song an intensity that would be difficult for vocals to compete with.
EXO - Obsession
EXO rarely lets me down with their comebacks, but Obsession isn’t one of those impactful tracks. The opening sample is more irritating than promising. However, it’s a nice complement to the dark and heavy instrumental. The arrangement and tight vocals are magnificent but the refrain is forgettable. There is some magic missing from this track that would make it more compelling.
IZ - Memento(메멘토)
2019 has been a great year for IZ. I’ve enjoyed their releases this year and Memento is no different. Atmospheric synths with building percussion makes the song feel like it’s building up for this explosive release of energy. However, the chorus slightly misses the mark, but still has that anthemic quality I enjoy from a nice radio-friendly rock song. It has all the qualities of an anthemic rock song and provides a sense of comfort.
Jun Hyo Seong - Starlight
Jun Hyo Seong formerly of Secret releases Starlight commemorating her 10th anniversary since debut. The song is quite refreshing and easy to listen to. Starlight puts all the focus on Jun Hyo Seong’s voice with a simple arrangement. Although the song doesn’t wow you, Starlight puts a smile on your face with its lovely and sweet sound.