TXT have long been one of my favourite k-pop groups, consistently coming back with material that feels fresh, engaging and almost always with a sense of unrivalled charm. Their trilogy of rock tracks gave us some of the strongest tracks of their respective years and though I’ve longed for the return of their brighter side ~ala Crown and Blue Hour , b-side efforts in the vein of Thursday’s Child and No Rules have kept that sound well afloat. And for much of its run time, new single Sugar Rush Ride seems to be channeling that energy into a discography highlight. Until It abruptly chooses to fall off a cliff.
Now, I’ve been sitting on this song for the greater part of the last 24 hours. There is so much of it that works so well. The rhythm guitar and percussion assisted verses are basically flawless, harnessing a bright, yet atmospheric energy that works wonderfully conceptually whilst still giving way for an exciting listening experience. It’s one of my favourite soundscapes of the year and the boys make sure to make perfect use of the excellent production during these parts, imbuing their lines with a suitable sense of tempered glee that rids much of the potential fluff but maintains the tracks sense of joy. Something which TXT absolutely excel at. In many ways, it feels like Blue Hour‘s older, more laser focused brother. A very high compliment. It builds some great momentum, giving us essentially two expertly place pre-choruses that differ in tone but work wonderfully when paired. The melodies are inventive and the setup, perfect. All that’s left is an equally buoyant hook to really shoot Sugar Rush Ride to the upper echelons of the groups already stellar discography.
This has to be one of the most baffling centrepieces in recent memory. The idea to halt the tracks entire momentum so abruptly, so randomly, just doesn’t make any sense at all. Now I would understand if this was only a one off or it changed the entire trajectory of the song but it doesn’t apply to either of those. The verses go back to where the left off from before the drop and the drop is repeated once again in place of the second chorus. I can get behind anti-drops and while Sugar Rush Ride‘s centrepiece has improved over further listens, its presence and arrangement feel more akin to a vacuum than convincing core. It’s an even more baffling decision when the possibilities were right there for something much more exciting. The climactic chorus is bight, exciting and would have been the perfect anchor for the track but instead it’s only relegated the the final few seconds. This results in a track that feels much more piecemeal than complete, coming across as a 75% complete draft than convincing single.
A real shame considering that with some rearrangement, this could have been an absolute home run. The repetitive “sugar rush rush” hook that caps off the first chorus almost works wonders on its second repetition when framed against the brighter, rhythm guitar assisted backing and as such could have been an excellent segue into a bridge or climax. Instead, its presence earlier in the track comes across as more grating than exciting. A phrase that I could use to describe many of the tracks unfortunate detours. And while the last 40 seconds does much to revitalise much of the song, it only leaves a more sour taste in my mouth thinking of what really could have been. Only time will tell if this takes the Bang Bang Bang route or crumble into one of the groups lesser efforts.
Final Rating: 8 / 10