Listeners who are familiar with PSY‘s music through his colorful, viral music videos might not be aware of just how compelling he can be when he slows down and stops trying to grab youtubers’ attention. There are a treasure trove of b-sides that reveal a much more interesting side to his persona, and his pre-Gangnam Style work is generally more varied in sound than what he presents to international audiences. In short, his music can be much more than a funny dance and a horde of celebrity cameos. It’s become a little frustrating to watch him continually shoehorn himself into a proven formula when he could be showing greater versatility.
Though both of his new title tracks attempt to replicate the novelty of his international breakthrough, New Face is the more fully realized package — even if just by a bit. Its arrangement and structure is remarkably similar to I Luv It, but its instrumental feels more fleshed out. Perhaps its the bursts of brass that drive the verses and chorus, or the multifaceted chorus. It’s a little disappointing that, once again, he’s opted for a simple, repetitive chant rather than a full-throated melody at the song’s core, but New Face‘s playful hook is undeniably sticky.
Even better is the song’s pre-chorus, which sees PSY belting it out rather than go for the expected electronic build. I happen to be a big fan of his textured, old-fashioned style of singing. It shares as much with the trot genre as it does with rock and modern pop, which gives the song a distinctly Korean sound. More of this would have given the track an even stronger appeal and a sense of uniqueness that might set it apart from what’s becoming an ever-growing list of Gangnam Style iterations.