Taeyeon has been churning out solo material at an incredibly consistent pace since 2015’s I. Along with Mark from NCT, I’d argue that she’s become SM’s busiest single artist. I haven’t been a fan of everything she’s released, but I respect the diverse discography that she’s building. There aren’t a whole lot of solo female acts in k-pop, and even less that venture beyond a steady output of ballads.
I Got Love is a pre-release for Taeyeon’s upcoming album, and continues to shift her sound in new directions. Up until the non-event of a chorus, this approach results in her best song yet. The atmospheric instrumental is the most interesting of her career, stripped to a mere pulse of snare drum and subdued jazz/funk instrumental riff. The production opens up brilliantly during the pre-chorus, adding layers of synth and anxious ticks of percussion as the melody expands. Throughout it all, Taeyeon delivers a hypnotic vocal performance, moving effortlessly between falsetto and chest voice to provide a dynamic sound that really stands out against the stark instrumental. The vocal production further enhances this, providing just enough echo to give her powerful tone a haunting, compelling ambiance.
Then we get to the chorus. I’m sure longtime readers expect me to absolutely hate the minimalist breakdown at the song’s core. And yes, I do wish that I Got Love‘s fantastic build actually built to something. But as frustrating as the non-chorus is, this is the rare example of a time when it almost works. I Got Love is a song brought to life by its atmosphere, and the unexpected lurch to its squeaky synth heartbeat and rumbles of guitar actually makes sense. If this had been positioned as a party track, I’d be incredibly irritated by the approach, but I Got Love is a different beast. It’s dark and weird and more evocative than it has any right to be. It probably wouldn’t cut it as a title track, but it’s everything a pre-release should be.