Now that Queens of Summer Sistar have disbanded, much has been made about who their successors might be. So far, I’d give the 2017 crown to Red Velvet, but there are still several weeks of summer left. Riding high on the success of their Hwi Hwi comeback in April, Laboum are the latest girl group to tackle this seasonal concept, and they’ve pulled in masters of summer Duble Sidekick to co-produce. This guarantees a Sistaresque sound, even if the song doesn’t quite get there.
The biggest issue with Only U (두바둡) is that it takes too long to get going. Everything from the first chorus on comes close to delivering on the concept’s potential, but that opening verse is a drag. For one, the key feels much higher than necessary, causing the vocals to sound overly strained. This wouldn’t be such an issue if the forgettable melody felt like it was doing anything more than simply filling space.
Luckily, the song transforms during its retro chorus, which brings in a dynamic vocal arrangement that incorporates harmonies and riffs to give the melody a real sense of heft. This pattern continues into the second verse, eschewing the high-pitched cuteness for a more grounded, rhythmic structure that pulses with the kind of buoyant energy a song like this requires. This sudden shift in structure gives Only U a slightly unbalanced feel, which blunts its overall appeal. But in this case, a few glimpses of pop brilliance are enough to warrant the track’s inclusion on any summertime playlist.