When writing about legendary girl group S.E.S’s pre-release Remember, I hoped that its sentimental balladry would give way to something more daring when it came time for the full comeback. And although Paradise (한 폭의 그림) doesn’t exactly reinvent the rule book, it offers a dynamite blast of throwback pop/r&b. For the track, the ladies have reunited with producer Yoo Young-Jin, who crafted their core sound since their debut in the 90’s. He also happens to be one of my absolute favorite k-pop producers of all time.
For Paradise, Young-Jin hearkens back to the era that made S.E.S such a force, building the track around a jittery new jack swing beat. The sound is similar to Shinee’s 1of1, and shares two of that song’s composers. But Young-Jin has always been incredibly masterful when it comes to vocal arrangement and layering. Paradise pops not only thanks to its crisp instrumental, but also its gorgeous production choices. This is most apparent during the chorus, which layers the ladies’ vocals with a suite of male counterparts for a lush, reverb-heavy mix that recalls his work on NCT U’s Without You. You get a sort of wall-of-sound effect that really makes the hook stand out.
Things are similarly exciting during the second verse, with the addition of a gutsy rap segment that’s supported by an even ballsier blast of beat-heavy instrumentation. It breaks up the song brilliantly, and avoids the lockstep monotony that can sometimes result from this specific, loop-driven genre. As comebacks from 90’s groups go, S.E.S has just set the bar very high for their contemporaries.