March is always a pretty barren month when it comes to big k-pop releases, but it feels like we’re coming off of one of the driest spells in recent memory. That makes it the perfect time for SM Station to debut its “Season 2.” The music platform’s initial run was a mixed bag, but at least it guaranteed something new from the prolific agency each week. Last year kicked off with one of SM‘s heavy hitters in the form of Taeyeon’s Rain, and Season 2 seeks to emulate that success with Red Velvet’s Would U.
As you might expect from a non-promoted digital release, Would U doesn’t arrive with all the bells and whistles that characterize a full-fledged comeback. Outside of Station, the song would most likely find a home on the second half of one of the group’s albums, so it’s not really fair to compare it to blockbuster tracks like Dumb Dumb or Russian Roulette. Instead, Would U succeeds on the strength of its warm production and understated melody.
Many midtempo tracks spend most of their energy maintaining a chill, unobtrusive vibe, but Would U‘s smart arrangement holds more surprises than I expected. The girls’ voices blend beautifully, and the song gives them an opportunity to showcase the strength of their harmonies. I love the prominent use of background vocals throughout, which provide an uplifting buttress to the main melody. At times, the arrangement even seems to pull in elements of gospel, though in a hushed, pop music form that keeps things from getting too wild. The final chorus is also a treat. Most of the instrumentation falls away, leaving only a dramatic piano accompaniment that brings us into the track’s final moments. Would U may not be an in-your-face k-pop moment, but it’s an undeniably pleasant opener to this year’s Station releases.