I’m not gonna lie, I was a little worried when it was announced that Beast would be coming back with not one, but two ballad tracks. For a group that needed a bump after member Hyunseung left, I was really hoping they’d return with a dance track as epic as Good Luck or Shadow. But I’m happy that my concerns were proven wrong. If last week’s Butterfly was a beautiful taster, the dramatic Ribbon (리본) is the main course we’ve been waiting for.
To be fair, Ribbon veers more towards the midtempo than a traditional ballad. Its overall aesthetic shares much with their 2014 single, 12:30. But Ribbon goes further, presenting what’s arguably Beast’s darkest title track yet. This is accomplished, in large part, through the utterly gorgeous violin sample that weaves through much of the song. I’m a sucker for classical influences in pop songs, and this particular instrumental touch adds incredible weight and drama to what’s otherwise a pretty standard Beast ballad. But really, every aspect of the production is firing on all cylinders. It’s a surprisingly dense brew of instrumentation that seems to be on a constant build, cresting during the track’s chorus.
The melody is a bit more muddled. Beyond the “tie up a ribbon” refrain, there’s not much to grab onto, particularly on the first listen. This would usually be a huge mark against the song, but Beast is one of the few groups that can pull off this type of stream-of-consciousness structure. Little by little, the melody begins to grab hold, though Ribbon is clearly more about vibe and atmosphere than singing along. My hope is that they can merge this sound with something more uptempo next time around and truly reclaim their throne. Ribbon is an excellent step in the right direction.