The Solutions are one of Korea’s best kept secrets — a good old fashioned power-pop rock band with a real ear for a catchy hook. They’ve been active for years now, but have consistently flown under the radar. When it comes down to it, they’re probably too poppy for the cool crowd, and too rock-based for idol-loving fanbases. Ahead of their new mini album, the guys released an excellent SM Station digital single and a very promising pre-release. But with Thumbs Up, The Solutions have expanded their sound with a greater focus on rhythmic and electronic elements.
In many ways, Thumbs Up sounds like the most accessible, forward-thinking single the group has released so far. Its beat-heavy production echoes most of modern k-pop, jettisoning their usual rock touches for a giddy swirl of rumbling bass and synth squiggles. The moments where guitar does surface are among the song’s best, lending the instrumental a brittle funk that compliments its commanding groove. When all of Thumbs Up‘s unlikely pieces are funneled together, it results in an odd little brew that becomes surprisingly addictive.
With this newfound focus on dance influences comes a lack of strong melodic hooks. Thumbs Up‘s chorus is repetitive to the point of annoyance, pitched at an awkward key that threatens to grate. I almost wish the daring instrumental supported a different song entirely. The blend of hip-hop and vocals in the verses sounds good on paper, but I’m not sure it works so well here. It’s the kind of track where every hook feels like it’s trying to be a catchphrase — and that grows old quickly.