Boy group UP10TION are back with their fifth (!) mini album in the space of just over a year. This is the way to do it for rookies — just blitz the market with continual comebacks so that no one can forget you. And it’s working. The guys wowed me with August’s Tonight, which felt very much like the song of summer, but they’ve taken a sharp turn in sound for White Night (하얗게 불태웠어). In fact, all five of their singles have felt very different from one another, so much so that it’s hard to tell if the group will develop their own sound or simply keep giving us releases in different genres.
Luckily, UP10TION are a fantastic group and have excelled at every new sound they attempt. White Night feels like the edgiest thing they’ve recorded yet. Composed by producer Oreo, who also worked on Tonight, the song opens with a dramatic layered vocal before quickly moving into a glitchy, aggressive electronic beat. The verses clear away some of the instrumental bombast, opting for a hiccupy hip-hop beat instead. But even as production flourishes come and go, the track never really slows down. It feels stuffed to the brim, continually on edge as if ready to pounce. This anticipation builds to a fevered pitch during White Night‘s brief instrumental break, which sees a return to that choral vocal sample that kicked off the track. I wish these choir-like vocals would have been placed more judiciously throughout the entire song. They’re present in the album’s introduction, but would have really kicked White Night up another notch. Though the instrumental is frenetic in a good way, it feels as if it needs a warmer, more organic touch to anchor it.
The melody is similarly all over the place, never taking a moment to breathe. This is a problem the first time through. It’s akin to being hit over the head with one of those plastic hammers that are so popular in Korean variety shows. But as the track becomes more familiar, the hooks begin to feel more connected. I anticipate that this will bode well for the song in the long run. I still much prefer the warm, jovial Tonight to this harder-edged sound, but White Night is yet another success for the guys.