In the midst of riding high on the success of her OST work with hit drama Goblin, soloist Ailee released digital single Reminiscing. This comes after a subtle reinvention of her sound with last year’s Home. But Reminiscing (낡은 그리움) doesn’t aim to reinvent anything, content to provide Ailee with a mellow showcase for her chameleon-like vocals.
Reminiscing wastes no time launching into its groove, kicking off with a wispy synth riff that gives the song a light 80’s touch. Though not a dance track by any means, this pop beat effectively differentiates the song’s sound from the many other midtempo r&b offerings clogging Korea’s digital charts. It’s also a nice contrast with Ailee’s soulful tone, bringing a surprising level of warmth to support Reminiscing‘s emotive melody.
Of course, this being an Ailee track, it’s safe to say that most listeners aren’t coming to Reminiscing for its production. Ailee is one of k-pop’s strongest vocalists, and can belt it out with the best of the them. But this time around, she’s allowed to display a more nuanced performance. This is most apparent as Reminiscing‘s melody splinters into a series of jazzy, free-form riffs that act as surprising excursions from the song’s otherwise generic structure. I can’t think of another recent k-pop track that uses this technique to such engaging effect. Though the song never builds to the soaring crescendos of Ailee’s more bombastic work, its pensive, poetic approach feels perfectly realized. It may not be a song for all moods, but it’s well-suited to these last few weeks before spring.