Most of the time, a k-pop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
For casual fans already confused by the NCT system, NCT Dream’s new mini album is going to muddle things even further. They used to the unit known for bright bubblegum pop, producing instant classics like My First And Last and Chewing Gum. But, as the guys have grown older, their sound has “matured.” We Boom is an equal mix of their classic, pop-informed style and the kind of undulating bass that characterizes other NCT tracks like Boss and Baby Don’t Stop. Generally, I prefer the former approach, but the album’s strongest songwriting occurs on its darker tracks.
Stronger has been used as We Boom’s secondary promotion on music shows, and I can see why. It pairs well with title track Boom, utilizing a similar bass loop and generally minimalist production. Overall, the song feels very EXO circa 2014, offering a militant, chant-heavy vocal over edgy instrumental elements. Its verses are largely given over to rap (or vocals with hip-hop phasing), but the chorus has a more bombastic appeal. I love the icy synths that run underneath this hook. They provide much-needed texture in a song that might otherwise come across as too one-note. There isn’t a lot of melodic variety here, which gives the track a cold, combative feel that may be off-putting at first. But, Stronger reveals its charms over multiple listens — a trait not unusual to NCT releases.
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