Rookie boy group IMFACT have teased a monthly release schedule for 2017, but the month of March was conspicuously skipped. I have to assume this was due to preparation for new single Tension Up (텐션업), which seems to boast a bigger budget and scope than either January or February‘s tracks. For the first time since last year’s Lollipop, IMFACT have returned to an uptempo pop sound. The move is appreciated, even if Tension Up still lacks in some areas.
The song bursts out of the gate with a rowdy acapella chant, which seems to herald a big pop moment. What follows is a bit of a head-scratcher. Tension Up‘s verses are driven by a weak electro beat that feels oddly reserved after such a boisterous opening. It’s a striking dip in energy, and doesn’t bode well for the track as a whole. This is a shame, because once the actual chorus hits, we’re in strong, swaggering territory once more.
This turn-around actually starts with the pre-chorus. Its effective build and MJ-esque vocal tics instantly recapture attention. Once we hit the central refrain, the production becomes much more robust and continues to grow as Tension Up races to its climax. The freewheeling party atmosphere of the song’s middle eight is particularly memorable, enlisting a touch of electric guitar to give the climax added drama. If Tension Up had maintained this level of unhinged energy from the very beginning, the song could have been outstanding. It’s still a strong, self-composed effort from the fledgling boy group, but too often it feels like a dynamite chorus in search of a better song.