There are few k-pop comebacks that feel quite as exciting as the forthcoming return of legends TVXQ. And while we still have a bit longer to wait for the duo’s upcoming Korean album, they’re already active again in Japan. As miffed as I may be that they’re promoting in a foreign country first after their discharge from the military, it makes perfect sense. No k-pop act has been as successful as TVXQ (or Tohoshinki, as the Japanese would call them) in the j-pop market, making the concept of a “reboot” wholly unnecessary. But since this is their first original single in over two years, I suppose the title makes sense.
Reboot builds on many of the duo’s past sounds, offering a dramatic opening salvo for the next stage of their career. But beneath all the bluster, the song itself feels like mid-tier TVXQ. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially given a catalog as extensive and awe-inspiring as theirs. It’s only frustrating that the track comes so close to excellence without quite reaching the kind of peaks that mark their best work.
Rather than a typical pop song, Reboot feels like a mini-musical, comprised of four distinct parts. The verses offer a restrained, ballad-like delivery that is soon built upon with a double-header of sweeping, cinematic pre-choruses that have a more rock-influenced flair. This extended segment is the song’s strongest moment, drawing upon the guys’ powerful vocals to create a satisfying, near-operatic surge. I’m less convinced by the chorus, which feels overly repetitive and disconnected from the rest of the track. It’s suitably enormous in sound, but never matches that bombast with a sense of climactic scope. Still, there’s nothing inherently wrong with its lockstep precision, making this more a case of personal preference than outright criticism. It’s just hard not to be extra picky when you know that these guys have delivered absolute perfection on more than one occasion.