Romeo gave us two of the best pop songs of last year, working with Sweetune to deliver a dynamic, propulsive sound similar to early Infinite. With the news that they had recently switched agencies, I was nervous how that might affect their music. It’s too early to tell, because even thought Nightmare (악몽) enlists new producers for a different sound, it’s more of a pre-release than full-fledged comeback.
As such, the song (and especially the music video) has a strong sense of budgetary restrictions about it. Nightmare has nowhere near the impact or flair as Lovesick or Target, opting for more of a safe, laid-back summer sound that we’ve heard many times before. It’s important to come into the track with this mindset, because once you stop hoping for another amazing Sweetune anthem, Nightmare is actually pretty decent in its own right. Its shimmering, organic instrumentation mostly stays out of the way, but provides a pleasant backdrop for the bright, funky melody.
The verses are the weak point, floating by without much effect. But once the chorus hits, it’s pretty hard not to nod your head along. The falsetto hook is by far the track’s MVP, providing an insanely catchy accent on an otherwise fun (but forgettable) refrain. The track feels like classic, old-school kpop of the sort that we don’t hear a lot these days, but it also flies by as a bit of a throwaway. If it had been their official comeback, it would be hard not to be disappointed. For now, I’m eager to see what they release later this summer when their album drops. That’ll be the true test to see if they can maintain the incredible quality of their 2015 work.