Breakout rookies SF9 are wasting no time establishing themselves, releasing a new mini album just two months after the last one. Thus far, the group has adopted an aggressive hip-hop style with mixed results, but for Easy Love (쉽다) they’ve switched it up quite a bit. This is SF9 as melodic as we’ve ever heard them on a title track, and it’s the right move to help them stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Listening to Easy Love‘s hooky, emotive chorus, I was instantly reminded of GOT7‘s If You Do. Love isn’t nearly as cohesive, but it carries that same melancholic aura despite its upbeat moments. The track begins at a slow, subdued pace, driven by a repeated guitar riff that shares as much with alternative rock as modern k-pop. It would have been fascinating to explore this side of the instrumental further, but ultimately Love settles for something more conventional. Its verses aren’t particularly compelling, too hesitant and atmospheric to leave much of an impression. The brief muffled effect 37 seconds in is also one of the worst production choices I’ve heard in awhile.
But then we hit that pre-chorus — and eventually the chorus itself — and the song catches fire. The tempo kicks into gear and the cathartic melody gives Love the centerpiece it deserves. From a pure pop standpoint, it’s the strongest hook SF9 have given us yet, at turns anthemic and uncertain. It balances these tones well, bursting forward with intense energy before pulling back for a series of more subdued notes that stray from expectations. In many ways, this one moment distills the duality the entire track is aiming to achieve. I only wish the rest of Easy Love was as perfectly realized.