As DSP Media’s co-ed group K.A.R.D has continued to gain steam among international audiences, the agency is still trying to figure out what formula will help April break out. The girls initially went down the sickly-sweet bubblegum route, but January’s April Story offered a glimpse at a more mature sound. New single Mayday (메이데이) continues along that route, giving the girls a busy, beat-driven production that echoes recent tracks by groups like Gugudan and Twice.
Mayday is not the world-conquering pop smash that April needs (its euphoric b-side, Yes Sir, would have been a superior choice), but it allows the girls to display a slightly different image. The song opens with a noisy synth blip and filtered vocal loop that give off an oddly unsettling vibe. This tense build is a constant presence throughout the verses, which trade aegyo-infused girl group fodder for something more sinister and experimental. While I can appreciate the attempt at creating a unique sound palette, the combination of musical elements comes off as irritating when it should have been compelling.
Once Mayday crashes into its chorus, we’re back in more familiar territory. The power-pop hook is well supported by a robust guitar accompaniment, giving the refrain a sing-along heft that feels suitably bombastic. I can imagine a strong song being built around this chorus, but Mayday‘s less streamlined moments tend to clash with its melody, resulting in a track that seems as if it wants to be too many things rather than mastering one.
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I come back to this song every once in a while, or more specifically to the video, for it’s eye-catching retro styling. It’s wild that they would save the catchiest part of the song, the “na na na’s” for the very end!
I don’t love the verses, but the pre-chorus and chorus are still really fun. I wish this song had half the sound effects though. They repeated “Eyy!” cheer in the chorus in so unnecessary. At least it’s far back in the mix. Ah, what could have been.