Over the past few years, K-pop has become fascinated with trilogies and conceptual series. So many groups have debuted under this release schedule, building a cohesive sound through interconnected albums before venturing out to new horizons. Dreamcatcher used their Nightmare series to cement an aggressive, rock-fueled style, and this has resulted in a passionate (if relatively small) fan base. I’m sure there was temptation to conform to more traditional girl group standards after this series had concluded, but new single What sees the group doubling down on their music’s metal edge.
For me, this rock sound has been a general success, with some title tracks standing out from the pack more than others. I think the girls are most successful when they mix things up a bit, tethering a dynamic pop melody to their thunderous instrumentals. Last year’s Good Night adhered a little too strongly to a radio-ready heavy metal template, and What suffers some of the same issues. At worst, its melody feels a little too lumbering, lacking some of the finesse that made May’s You and I such a long-lasting treat.
What’s titular chant is its clunkiest moment, but also allows the girls a chance to indulge in their heaviest vocal riff yet. I’m much more a fan of the track’s symphonic details, which add needed texture to the tempestuous mix of in-your-face guitar and drums. To their credit, Dreamcatcher attack this song with undeniable force. The gargantuan instrumental never feels overbearing, even if it lacks some of the imagination I’d hoped for. When it comes down to it, this is yet another strong showcase for the group’s unique appeal — an appeal that is feeling more vital than ever as modern K-pop throws all its eggs into a limited number of trend-driven baskets.
Still not sure why you don’t favor “Good Night”? while most Dreamcatcher arrangements start with piano or something less straightforward, Good Night bookends the chorus melody with a guitar solo and then goes straight into the riffs and it just never really lets up, and in my opinion this makes for the best song. Every Dreamcatcher chorus is strong and has the similar melody over guitar chords thing going on, so for me it’s a battle of the verses and Good Night stands out for being so tightly written.
I’m not really sure about “What” yet for the most part because it’s not as high tempo as past releases, and super fast rhythms and riffs are my favorite thing about metal as a genre, and it definitely loses some appeal when the song doesn’t have that going for it. I don’t think the chorus melody is necessarily as strong either. I’ll have to pay some more attention to textures and harmony to see if there’s something cool in there!
For me, Good Night comes across as their most straightforward radio metal track. Their other singles feel slightly more “k-pop” in a sense, and that’s what draws me to them. I think it just comes down to the fact that pop-metal has never been a favorite genre of mine, so I’m bound to prefer tracks that incorporate other elements.
Still, Good Night has grown on me since I first reviewed it. Seeing it performed live at KCON certainly helped.
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