I don’t think I’ve been this hyped for a debut since TXT’s Crown early last year.
Woolim are one of my favourite companies and given its star studded roster, it shouldn’t be any surprise why. They’re home to my favourite Kpop group of all time (INFINITE) and groups like Golden Child and Lovelyz are also among the upper echelons of my bias list. Rocket Punch are the only group I’ve had trouble jelling with but they too have some real stunners under their belt. Because of this, DRIPPIN arrive with massive expectations. Not only are they a group full of former X1 and Produce X 101 members but the sheer amount of talent here is just incredible. And for the first time this year, I’m proud to say that Nostalgia doesn’t only meet those expectations, but shatters them.
The best praise I could possibly give Nostalgia is that it feels like a mix between the layered pop bombast of INFINITE and the cosmic, almost magical soundscape of Cosmic Girls. In fact, this is the kind of sound I was expecting CRAVITY to debut with. But honestly, it fits DRIPPIN to a tee. I love it when a group debuts with a set sound and with a track like Nostalgia, it honestly feels like DRIPPIN know exactly what kind of sound they stand for. And thankfully for big pop lovers like myself, it’s music focused on big, over the top pop hooks.
Produced by Full8loom, the architects behind much of WJSN’s work, Nostalgia opens with an incredibly engaging filtered synth loop. This quickly gives way to a fantastic opening verse that just cackles with energy. The bed of electronics alongside a healthy dose slap bass does the track many favours, harnessing an addictive yet propulsive energy that makes Nostalgia feel incredibly refreshing. The build during the pre-chorus is even better, flowing naturally from the verses and gradually increasing the tempo to a point of bursting. Apart from a regrettable foray into trap in its second verse, Nostalgia is wonderfully arranged, lending enough breathing space between its more grand moments whilst still maintaining its sense of energy.
Speaking of grand moments, Nostalgia is home to a monster hook. I’m a sucker for vocal layering and Nostalgia‘s chorus revels in its sense of layered grandeur. This elevates an otherwise strong melody to even greater heights and proves just how strong a real chorus can be. The boys should also be commended here. I’m so happy that it’s not just the Junho and Yunseong show and that the other members are also allowed to shine. They lend a great sense of personality to the entire affair, a must for any great debut. But my favourite moment of the track has got to be the fake out dance break during the bridge. I love how it brings you into a state where you almost expect it to lead into the final chorus but then pulls the rug from under your feet to unveil an incredible dance break. I adore the instrumental here. It perfectly sets up the final chorus whilst still feeling essential to the entire package.
Not only is Nostalgia easily the years strongest debut, but it’s also one of the strongest tracks I’ve heard all year. If you want to unveil your new group, this is how you do it. Can we get a round of applause?
Final Rating: 9 / 10