Am I potentially risking my literature review for this review? Yes.
Will I regret it? (Well, probably in the future when my supervisor wants my draft) NOPE.
*decently long and rambly post incoming*
This is the kind of music that excites me. From what it’s worth, I’ve been incredibly bored with the overall state of k-pop recently. Nothing has been particularly bad but a sense of mundanity has fallen over what used to be an otherwise exciting and always fun musical landscape. That doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed anything though. Nayeon’s No Problem is one of my favourite and most replayed songs of the year and NewJeans’ Hype Boy, KB’s Be Free, CSR’s Pop?Pop!, from20’s Chemical and ATEEZ’s Guerrilla and CyberPunk have all been some recent standouts. And how could I forget SNSD’s grand return. But even with these, my current musical rotation has either been dominated by fun, friend influenced jams or the soundtrack of whatever movie I’m currently obsessed with (exhibit A, exhibit B). But with the release of Golden Child’s explosive Replay, I’ve been pulled right back into the thrilling wonderland I had been missing.
I’ve always loved Golden Child but ever since last year’s Ra Pa Pam, I feel as though the group have started to slowly lose their way. Ra Pa Pam‘s moombhaton inspired beat felt lesser in the shadows of the superior Burn It, DDARA‘s understated dance sound quickly got lost in shuffle and the less said about the groups Japanese efforts the better. Oh how could the group that gave us stunners like Lady be devolving into such bland, uninspired sounds. And with this being the groups first comeback without leader Daeyeol, the darker concept photos and future edm genre tag, I was a little concerned for what Replay would bring. Thankfully, all those worries were completely unfounded as Replay takes all the elements of the groups excellent back catalogue along with some elements of the past to craft an absolute monster of a comeback.
From the explosive electronic stabs that punctuate the tracks opening moments to the grungy guitar that pops up during its latter half, Replay is an absolute thrill from start to finish, interpolating so many current trends into a dynamic dance pop package that feels so fresh. Fans have long wanted the group to promote a more straightforward dance pop sound and though they’ve tackled this sound incredibly well in a number of b-sides, Replay stands as their first promoted effort that carries this sound. And though it borrows a healthy dose of its sound from predecessors INFINITE, it does so with such panache and style that it feels completely earned. The instrumental carries an unrelenting sense of drive that makes sure to keep the momentum up, listening experience straightforward and even elevate the tracks quiter moments into exciting little detours. Feats that remains remarkably rare in 2022’s often cluttered musical landscape. It’s a remarkably potent brew that makes excellent use of the groups diverse set of vocals and performers whilst also incorporating the “future house” or “future edm” influences into a thrilling instrumental break.
The chorus follows suit, seamlessly transitioning from the pre-chorus whilst still carrying a healthy amount of weight and an instantly memorable melody punctuated by the key “baby we can replay” hook that explodes courtesy of both Joochan and Y’s always outstanding vocals. I would have loved to hear Daeyeol’s unique vocal tone tackle one of these hooks but the arrangement remains phenomenal regardless It’s also a surprisingly rhythmic centrepiece, which utilises both slap bass , aggressive synth work and the aforementioned electronic stabs to craft a centrepiece that actually feels like a moment. And by the time the grungy guitar comes in to lead the track during its climax, I’m already completely sold by what is probably 2022’s first real showstopper.
And the album? Well, let’s just say that Knocking on my door, 3!6!5! and Miracle are all leagues away from almost other K-pop related projects I’ve heard all year.
Final Rating: 9.5 / 10