As part of their big 2016 comeback, the members of SS501 sub-unit Double S 301 have recently released a Japanese mini album. Its title track is the sorrowful Fraction, which takes a more dramatic, ballad-with-a-beat approach compared to their earlier Korean comeback.
I tend to cut English phrases in kpop or jpop a tremendous amount of slack, even reveling in their occasional awkwardness. Until I looked at a translated version of Fraction, I was convinced that the song’s main refrain was “Love isn’t funny (or furry?),” which I thought was a strange, if somewhat interesting, sentiment. Turns out it’s actually the more straightforward “Love is falling,” which is fine if a bit awkwardly delivered. I only bring this up because the main issue I have with Fraction is the same one I had with Pain, and it’s a matter of chorus structure. Fraction isn’t nearly as repetitive in its melody, but it does feel like a wasted opportunity. I appreciate that this is a more melancholic piece and not meant to be as energetic as a party track, but I still wish the hook had more of a punch to it. A contrasting backing vocal might give it more texture and musical diversity. As it stands, it feels too tightly shoehorned into its pattern, unwilling to really break out and morph into something more emotionally cathartic.
Still, the song does have a nice, dramatic build in its bridges, and the touches of orchestral production give it a dark, stately vibe that befits the group’s stature. It effectively conveys its emotion without coming across too maudlin, and the post-chorus, rhythmic ad-lib offers a smart counterbalance to the more plaintive notes the rest of the song hits. It’s perfectly serviceable, but in the end I can’t help but wish that it had been more.
(And to those that think I’m just endlessly hating on Double S 301, I actually thought their Korean mini was mostly excellent)