Few rookie groups have suffered as long a hiatus as Playback. The girls debuted all the way back in June of 2015 and released two underrated singles that year. And now — twenty-five months since we last heard them — they’ve finally delivered a follow-up. Because of this, it’s almost more accurate to consider Want You To Say (말해줘) a re-debut than a comeback. And as with any sort of debut, you’d hope a group would come out guns blazing.
Lately, I’ve been very critical of what I would call “generic” k-pop releases. And make no mistake about it, Want You To Say‘s tropical bop is cripplingly generic. But within this copy and paste, template-loving approach there are still levels of success. Playback deliver all the expected notes, but they deliver them well. Nothing about the summery instrumental is remotely surprising if you’ve been following k-pop for the past two years. The synths gurgle and chirp with complete familiarity as the percussion pops with a mix of laid-back groove and trap-influenced playfulness.
Fortunately, Playback imbue Say with a sense of melodic polish that helps combat the song’s more derivative moments. They forgo the temptation to stuff the track with overly cute appeals and just dig in with a breezy delivery that goes down easy. The chorus could stand to be a little more developed, but the girls’ vocals layer gorgeously and give the song needed heft. The one-two punch of understated rap and slow-burn build during the bridge is another treat. Ultimately, Want You To Say will not rewrite the book for k-pop or Playback themselves, but it’s a solid enough release to build upon with more interesting material in the future.