Seventeen‘s pre-comeback tease is in full swing with the Performance Team’s Lilili Yabbay (13월의 춤). Consisting of Hoshi, Dino, The8 and Jun, Performance has become the most unpredictable of the group’s sub-units. But these non-promoted releases are the perfect venue for a little adventurous spirit, and by pushing the boundaries Yabbay is the most compelling release this countdown project has given us yet.
Last January’s Highlight showed incredible promise, but adhered pretty strictly to a familiar EDM structure. In contrast, Lilili Yabbay takes that structure and twists it in all directions. The song’s production is the most experimental Seventeen has ever sounded. Its opening moments give a nod to the overused future bass trend (which sent me into a bit of a panic), but expectations are quickly shattered as a searing electric guitar becomes the framework for the first verse. The entire track is an exercise in distortion, from the heavy processing on the guys’ vocals to the persistent blasts of inhuman instrumentation. This gives Yabbay a constant sense of the unsettled, as if some sort of musical beast is lurking just underneath, shaking the foundations of the track.
When the tempo kicks in for the chorus, the song’s disparate elements really begin to connect. I love how the guitar (or is that a heavily warped vocal?) echoes the main hook, but even better is that demonic rumble of a refrain that pops up toward the chorus’s end. It’s pitched so low that it sounds more like bass than anything a human voice could conjure. The song may be light on melody, but with production this engaging it really doesn’t matter. I still hope that Seventeen have a big, glossy pop song prepared for their full-group comeback, but in the meantime Lilili Yabbay is an absolute triumph of a diversion.