Earlier this year, RoaD-B, formerly known as BXK came out of literally nowhere to deliver one of early 2022’s strongest and most assured efforts in the form of the dynamic Nonstop. And though still unknown to the wide majority of K-pop fans, the group have already earned their fair share of admiriers (myself included) thanks to their ongoing collaboration with all time production greats Sweetune. And now after almost 5 months away, the group have returned with their second single, Icarus.
Sophomore efforts can be a slippery slope to ride on. Especially when they follow a great debut. You either hit an even bigger home run or slip up horribly trying. As such, despite an incredibly promising teaser, I remained cautious over how Icarus would turn out. Thankfully, Icarus continues the groups dominant musical soundscape, taking a much more classic Sweetune approach compared to its predecessor to deliver one of the years most triumphant tracks.
Opening with what might just be the years best chorus, Icarus makes one hell of an introduction, building up to its immense hook with an evocative guitar riff that perfectly conveys the slightly emotive soundscape that Icarus traces throughout its three and half minute run time. It’s such an immense introduction, one that provides a rush that’s replicated on each and every repetition of the chorus. A chorus that resounds with Sweetune’s trademark vocal layering and a healthy dose of brass to give a euphoric head rush that convey’s a sense of triumph whilst also hinting towards a slight tinge of melacholia below it all. A characteristic found in some of Sweetune’s most iconic works. It’s one of my absolute favourite musical moments of the year and one that encapsulates so much of the potential that I saw within the already great Non stop.
And though the verses do slow down comparatively, I actually quite like this approach. The slightly slower and more emotive nature of the verses allow for a much more engaging and varied listening experience. The performance follows suit, offering a much more nuanced delivery compared to their debut effort, which imbues these slower moments with the required pathos to really make them memorable on their own. This comes to a head during the excellent pre-chorus, which hinges on the incredibly catchy “Is it that I’m falling, Is it that I fly” hook that is sure to remain in your head long after the track concludes. The production and melody zig when you expect them to zag but still retain just enough familiarity to really hit you when it matters. And just when you think it couldn’t get any better, Icarus climax’s with an additional hook, transforming an otherwise great track into something truly special. This is upbeat pop music at its most transcendental and easily one of my favourite K-pop songs of the year.
Final Rating: 9.5 / 10