It’s hard to believe that it’s already been eight years since Teen Top made their debut. While they’ve never been at the very top of the K-pop pack, they’re an example of a group who has remained remarkably steady over the years. Even after losing member L.Joe to contract re-negotiations, they’ve carried on with their own brand of slick dance pop. New release Lover (너와 나의 사이) celebrates this legacy, even as it looks to current trends for inspiration.
Surprisingly, Lover was not produced by longtime collaborator Brave Brothers. Instead, the guys have turned to up-and-comer Ollounder, who has crafted much of Dreamcatcher’s rock-infused discography. Alas, Teen Top has opted for tropical pop over rock, but with an ear for catchy melody and a few welcome production elements.
Lover doesn’t inspire at first, pulsing on a reused tropical beat complete with plenty of warped synth squiggles (as if we haven’t heard enough of those). But halfway through the opening verse, a hint of strings enters the fray. It’s not overpowering, but adds a nice sense of build to what is otherwise a pretty boring segment. We’re back to pure tropical synth textures for the chorus, which is a shame. But though the melody remains laid-back even at this important moment, its catchiness quickly becomes difficult to resist. The interplay between its chant-like opening and the falsetto hook that follows works surprisingly well, even if it feels quite familiar. Lover is no monumental, game-changing moment, but it would be quite welcome on any summer playlist.