A sense of innocence has tethered all of April’s music together thus far, but that’s too much of a simplification when it comes to talking about their discography. Structurally and stylistically, they’ve slowly become one of K-pop’s most interesting girl groups. Their singles run has pin-balled from one sound to the next, and now they’ve landed straight in the middle of 80’s nostalgia.
Oh! My Mistake (예쁜 게 죄) is not what I expected, and that’s a good thing. The song opens with a synthwave-inspired beat, driven by the kind of cold electronics we don’t usually associate with groups like April. This stark instrumental deserves equally mysterious vocals, but the girls play up the cutesy factor more strongly here than anywhere else in the song. This gap provides an interesting contrast, but I’m not sure it’s for me.
Luckily, once we hit the pre-chorus, Mistake is firing on all cylinders. The build marks a fascinating use of scattershot percussion, gradually transforming the instrumental as more elements are brought into play. The chorus wears its retro influences on its sleeve, forgoing chirpy melodic exclamations for a hook that feels more sinister and unbalanced. The phrasing speeds up, but the energy remains uniform and gives the refrain an effortlessly cool appeal. This leads perfectly into the bizarre second verse, which begins with a pair of seemingly detached bursts of sing-song hip-hop that briefly take the song into completely new territory. I love structural experiments like this — especially when they don’t totally rob a track of its flow. That’s a hard balance to strike, but Mistake pulls it off with confidence.