Block B get compared to Bigbang quite often. Some of the comparisons are fair, and many are not. They certainly have a sound of their own, but they do share a similarly annoying habit of taking long breaks in between releases. Prior to their March comeback, we’d gone nearly two years since hearing from them. That long of a wait tends to set expectations sky high, so it’s interesting that they’ve chosen to return with the mellow, controlled Toy.
Now, “mellow” and “controlled” are not synonyms for “bad,” and although I would have loved something as fun as Her or Very Good, Toy offers more than its share of pleasant surprises. The track captured me from the outset, with one of the most arresting build-ups I’ve heard all year. The processed adlibs that open the song give an interesting — almost 50’s/60’s — retro vibe before Zico and Kyung trade verses over a spare, chugging guitar. Coupled with the cinematography of the music video, I found this intro portion to be totally striking. Toy quickly segues into a more standard midtempo delivery, though it retains an idiosyncratic, off-balance feel throughout. Much of this is due to the atmospheric synth work, which colors the bulk of the track as it gurgles and hiccups in and out.
It took three listens before the chorus really stuck. Zico’s titular refrain remains the song’s catchiest hook, but the chorus’s elegant melody gives the track some nice emotional climaxes. I wouldn’t put it up there with the group’s absolute best, but it does cast them in a more mature, artistic light. It’s also a deceptively melodic pop song, which will likely improve as more of its quirks are discovered through repeated listens.