Nu’est’s post-Produce 101 ascendance has been nothing short of extraordinary, and I’m surprised that they took so long to follow up on last October’s successful Where You At. Despite that song’s adherence to the annoying-instrumental-drop-as-chorus trend, I eventually came around to enjoying its dynamic arrangement. In contrast, new single Dejavu feels much more subdued and less like a big k-pop “moment.” Yet even without the bombast, its understated charms impress.
Billed as the group’s first attempt at Latin sounds, Dejavu doesn’t push as far into this territory as I’d expected. The plucked guitar that opens the track sets the tone, complimented by the tropical groove that drives the bulk of the song. The first verse bops along rather hesitantly, intercut with bursts of Seventeen-esque vocal layering. No surprise there, as Dejavu was co-composed by Pledis Entertainment mainstay Bumzu. His touch is all over the track’s circuitous melody, which constantly flirts with hooks that it never fully leans into.
The song doesn’t truly captivate until it segues into its slinky chorus. I love how the production thins out in this moment, leaving behind little more than funk-infused bass. It’s a refreshing change from the expected EDM structure, and allows Nu’est W to impress with a more nuanced performance. I only wish the song felt like it was building to something more. The constant push and pull of the arrangement is effective, but begins to wear stale as Dejavu unfolds. This sense of restraint limits the song’s overall impact, even as it adds to its atmospheric mystique.