B.A.P have nearly replicated their prolific 2016, making another three comebacks this year. That constant work ethic has to be lauded, even if the material hasn’t always kept up the same level of consistency. New single Hands Up throws back to the group’s debut sound, marrying its modern verses to a gruff, 2012-era hook. This results in a song with all the right intentions, let down by muddled execution.
Hands Up is ultimately too mellow to be called a classic hype song, but its rock-infused, fist-pumping chorus certainly points in that direction. The best examples of this style usually build towards some transformative moment — a point where the energy or tempo or melodic fervor rises to a new level to cap off the emotional rush the song seeks to provide. That sense of climax is missing here, as Hands Up‘s central rallying cry comes across as overly monotonous. Yes, the guys are shouting, but it’s a stagnant loop of a shout that misses out on the kind of intensity needed to make this type of track work.
The verses are more effective, supplying a diverse and satisfying soundscape. Deep rumbles of bass underline much of the track, nearly inaudible without a powerful speaker. Better yet are the haunting vocal ad-libs that support Yongguk’s second verse rap. But in the end, it all cycles back to that letdown of a hook. B.A.P have proven themselves to be much more creative than this, and it’s frustrating to imagine the immense, dynamic year-end comeback this could have been.