Barring last November’s toothless Orange, Shinhwa have always done a nice job keeping with the trends and releasing modern, edgy material each time they come back. And now that all sorts of 90’s acts are returning to the k-pop world, that sense of forward-moving momentum really sets them apart. But while that sense of experimentation worked wonders with 2015’s excellent Sniper, it has the opposite effect on the chorus-free Touch.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard a modern pop song that transposes an instrumental hook for a traditional chorus, but very few songs have been able to pull it off without leaving the feeling that an entire piece of the puzzle is missing. Touch has a promising start, opening immediately with a vocal-driven verse. The mix of stuttering beat and swirling symphonics gives it a dramatic, intense feel that seems to be leading somewhere quite epic. Unfortunately, the verses are sabotaged by the lack of any real chorus.
In its place is a distorted instrumental break, its pieces chopped up and rearranged to create an aural collage that incorporates elements of EDM, dubstep and even tropical house. It’s easy to appreciate the work that went into creating such a complex blend of sounds, but it’s just not all that pleasant or interesting to listen to. What should have been a climactic melody just ends up being a break that might have been tacked on during other songs’ middle eights or outros. An instrumental hook has the potential to work, but this one isn’t memorable enough to carry the track. In this way, Touch feels unfinished — more of a choreography or mood piece than an actual song.