After the surprise resurgence of popularity for 2014’s ubiquitous Up & Down, EXID’s music began to feel shoehorned into a certain style. You certainly can’t blame them. Fame is not an easy target in k-pop, and once you’ve scored a hit, it’s smart to follow up with the formula that proved successful. That strategy worked for follow-up Ah Yeah, but quickly began to feel a bit stale thereafter. So Night Rather Than Day (낮보다는 밤), with its complete aural transformation, is a welcome step into new territory just when the girls need it most.
Rather than the bombastic sound we’ve come to expect from EXID, Night takes a laid-back, groove-driven approach. The girls have continued to work with frequent collaborator Shinsadong Tiger, and his gift for a sticky hook is felt throughout the track’s breezy melody. Even so, Night is really all about its production. It’s an incredibly warm instrumental, stuffed with jazzy brass, wisps of strings and flourishes of rhythm guitar. This 70’s, lounge-inspired sound is not something k-pop attempts often, but Night gets it just right. The production manages to feel dynamic and lively without overpowering the pop melody.
My biggest problem with last year’s L.I.E was the shrill delivery of its chorus, so I’m thrilled to hear the girls singing in a lighter, less frenetic tone this time around. Night may lack the powerhouse peaks of the group’s best work, but its central hook is still potent in its own way. The verses are largely scattershot, serving to paint the track’s airy, improvisational vibe rather than steal attention for themselves. But they do an excellent job setting up the song’s disco-kissed chorus, which feels perfectly suited for spring. Nothing about the song feels showy or try-hard, and that’s a refreshing change of pace that serves EXID well.