Out of the three NCT units, Dream have consistently released some of my favourite material. While their earlier work adhered to a more bubblegum sound, it resulted in some of my absolute favourite NCT songs in Chewing Gum and especially My First And Last. Their shift to a more harder edged sound has made them almost indistinguishable from the other NCT units, but thankfully its spearheaded by strong production and instantly galvanising hooks. And much like last years Boom, Ridin’ is another strong addition to the Dream discography.
In many ways, Ridin’ feels like a much more streamlined version of 127’s Kick It from earlier in the year. The abrasive, almost filthy bassline, coupled with an equally interesting soundscape and bombastic bridge make it like a companion piece, and in a way that’s kind of fitting. And given that I really enjoyed Kick It, it’s no real surprise that I enjoy Ridin‘ too. The militant, almost industrial groove that frames most of the track is incredibly refreshing, imbuing each moment with the kind of energy that’s been sorely missing this year. I love the constantly morphing instrumental during the hook, which combines layers of galvanising vocal adlibs and rhythmic bass. Its a strong centrepiece, and makes great use of SM’s renowned vocal layering.
This brings me to my favourite moment of the track, which is its brilliant climax. Much like Kick It‘s climax, it’s like the producers threw the word “subtle” out the window and decided to throw everything they could at the song. And boy does it pay off. It’s one of the years most bombastic moments, culminating in some hair raising vocal explosions which send the track off on a high. But with all these positives, the only thing that really stops me from fully falling in love with Ridin‘ is that same abrasiveness. I adore the experimentation and willingness to go big, I have doubts about whether it will enjoy the same longevity as something like Boom. It’s a small gripe for a comeback that’s otherwise another ray of hope for 2020’s lacklustre musical output.
Final Rating: 8.5 / 10