Over a year ago, I ended my review of Seven O’Clock’s debut single Echo with a question: how was this rookie group going to stand out? The answer may lie in their new album’s opening track Take It On, which melds an anthemic vocal riff to chugging guitar for a classic (almost country) pop sound that feels like a breath of fresh air when placed beside K-pop‘s current trends. In comparison, title track Nothing Better isn’t quite as fully-realized, but a standout chorus and upbeat energy make it nearly as successful.
Nothing Better moves between pretty distinct segments. We’ve got the acoustic guitar-led verses, the brassy post-chorus breakdown and the propulsive bombast of the hook. These elements could have easily clashed, but the track does a nice job moving between them without any jarring moments. More importantly, the group supply an engrossing performance, offering polished vocals and charismatic injections of hip-hop attitude.
I love the second-verse call-back to G-Dragon’s 2012 hit One Of A Kind and the Seventeen-esque background vocals during the breakdown. The fact that these moments are obviously cribbed from other acts doesn’t feel disingenuous because Nothing Better plays like a love letter to K-pop’s past. It could have been released almost anytime during the last decade, yet it doesn’t feel like a total retread. And while it suffers a bit from a lack of originality, Seven O’Clock have borrowed from excellent source material. If only its music video wasn’t so disappointingly low-budget.