100% have been away from the k-pop scene for over two years — a hiatus many groups simply cannot successfully come back from. They’ve always been a remarkably consistent act, both in terms of talent and material. But when I learned that their new single (and album) would be composed by production gods Sweetune, my expectations suddenly went through the roof.
Better Day (지독하게) definitely has the classic, propulsive Sweetune sound, but with a darker edge than we’ve heard in awhile. The track is built on soaring string sections and a constant sense of ascension — whether that be in the form of the lush, ever-climbing instrumentation or the gorgeous falsetto that drives the chorus.
Speaking of the chorus, it’s remarkable how such a simple refrain feels so intense. The focus on gorgeous, sustained notes rather than a more typical rhythmic delivery gives the song a unique sound. Supporting this are a host of wonderful instrumental quirks, like the hints of piano or stuttering, on-the-verge-of-explosion percussion. Taken together, they give Better Day a wistful, intangible feel. It’s the musical equivalent of tendrils of smoke, capable of dissolving at any moment. Given this, the song doesn’t have the immediate impact of Sweetune’s best work. It may not feel particularly big or noteworthy, which could be a danger for a group who needs to reassert themselves in k-pop’s ever fickle world. But Better Day‘s sleek, melodic approach carries an even more important asset: in its own way, it feels like utterly timeless pop music.