Girl group 4TEN briefly went by the (strange) name Poten and released a very underrated single last summer. Nevertheless, they’ve been unable to break out in the kpop world. Like many groups with a similar struggle, they’ve come back again and again with varying sounds and concepts, trying to find something that will stick. I’m not sure Severely is the one to do it, but it’s certainly their best song to date.
Severely is nearly taken over by its gargantuan synth riff, which echoes the feel of many classic 80’s tracks in its sheer bombast. This is a very good thing, and instantly gives the song its own individual stamp. It’s also a bit of a drawback, since the more restrained verses aren’t quite memorable enough to counter the hook’s power. The track becomes all about that synth and those vocal harmonies. Speaking of harmonies, I wish they were a bit fuller in sound. Severely would have really soared if performed by a group with more members (and a greater variety of vocal tones).
Still, this is a triumph for 4TEN. On sheer energy alone, the track never lets up. The electric guitar adds punch, and the production remains dynamic without a dead spot to be found. I’ve seen many compare Severely to the opening of an anime. I suppose it has that element, with its propulsive, upbeat sound, but it’s not simply a cut-and-paste homage. There are some interesting things they’re trying out, and it’ll be a shame if the song falls completely under the radar.