Most of the time, a kpop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-side tracks deserve recognition, too. In the singles-oriented world of kpop, I wanted to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
Apart from title track Sixteen, I wasn’t a big fan of Samuel’s debut mini album released this summer. Because of this, I headed into Eye Candy without a whole lot of excitement. But Samuel and his producers turned things around with a very solid set of mostly uptempo teen pop. What I appreciate most about this release is that, barring a few exceptions, the style is very retro. This is in keeping with Brave Sound’s strong points, and makes for a refreshing collection of material that skirts past trends in favor of something that feels more unique.
There are plenty of tracks to praise (be sure to check out Brilliantly, Jewel Box and Never Let U Down for starters), but Love Love Love is notable because it paints a clear way forward for Samuel’s future music. I don’t think he should try to become Korea’s answer to Justin Bieber. His strength is as a dance singer, paired with songs that strike a more rhythmic base. Love has a wonderfully funky — almost disco — appeal. Its throwback arrangement emphasizes rhythm guitar and a sticky synth breakdown that becomes the song’s centerpiece. Samuel doesn’t have the strongest vocals, but that doesn’t mean they need to be pummeled with autotune. The amount of processing here is just right, and fits with the track’s general aesthetic.