DreamNote’s self-referencing debut won quite a few fans, but I found its performance too over-caffeinated for its own good. This hyper-excited style seems to be part of the groups’ overall concept, so I can’t really fault them for adhering to it. New single Hakuna Matata (하쿠나 마타타) is not a cover of the Lion King classic (thank god!), but its 80’s synth production and relatively palatable arrangement should help the girls find a wider audience.
As a massive fan of everything 80’s, I certainly can’t gripe with Matata’s instrumental. The chugging electro thump that forms the track’s backbone is instantly recognizable, amped further by touches of surf guitar and bright sprinkles of synth. In some ways, it’s a pitch perfect re-creation of a very specific sound, but it never feels stuck in the past. Hakuna Matata sits comfortably right next to Twice’s Yes Or Yes, which — unsurprisingly — shares the same composers.
The song’s melody isn’t quite as streamlined as its instrumental. There’s a lot going on here, as a constant barrage of impossibly cheery vocals hit listeners from all directions. With so much to take in, Matata lacks a strong focal point. The chorus feels like a less-addicting version of Yes Or Yes, while the verses opt for a stickier pattern that strongly recalls the song’s retro roots. Still, there’s just enough refinement present to mark this as a significant improvement over their debut. All it needs is some polish, and a better balance between power and cheerleader-esque frenzy so that the latter doesn’t completely consume the former.