It’s easy to see why Dreamcatcher have cultivated an enthusiastic fan base. They follow the road-map I usually prescribe for newer groups: stick with a well-matched pool of composers, develop your signature sound, and offer just enough variation within that sound to keep things interesting. Since 2017’s Chase Me, the girls have forged a consistent discography, experimenting when it comes to b-sides but sticking to a winning formula for title tracks. New single Deja Vu (데자부) largely plays by the groups’ rules, with a few notable changes.
More than most K-pop releases, Deja Vu is a song in contrasts. Pitched halfway between emotive ballad and hard-hitting rocker, the track divides its attention equally between its two faces. It spends an unusual amount of time in its quieter moments, devoting its entire opening minute to a dramatic goth-infused build that lets the girls showcase their vocal chops. This subdued arrangement is Deja Vu’s not-so-secret weapon, harnessing a powerful melody that gradually establishes the song’s evocative mood.
Deja Vu’s chorus is less memorable, opening with a repetitive hook that soon blossoms into a more diverse (yet still frustratingly slight) refrain. The real magic happens between the song’s two extremes. I love the synth work during the pre-chorus, and I wish Deja Vu spent more of its energy developing this fantasy-like aesthetic. In particular, its second verse feels like a missed opportunity to nurture a sense of momentum rather than softening back to the piano-led arrangement that opened the track. I love the chaotic bed of backing vocals mixed into the chorus, and they would have been another welcome way to bolster Deja Vu’s slower moments. Thankfully, the track amps up for its blistering climax, heightening the tempo to bring us back to that hard-rocking template that Dreamcatcher pull off so well.
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As a massive InSomnia I’m kinda biased, but I absolutely loved it. However, it isn’t SOTY material and the verses aren’t their best. But I’d like to recommend Silent Night as a song off this mini that completely blew me away
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I like the song and I think it works, but I still think that Dreamcatcher need to work on integrating the rock elements into their songs better. They’re very strong when they do just straightforward metal influenced songs but when they try to do the Kpop genre blend there are some cracks. “Breaking Out” had a very noticeable disconnect between the verses and the chorus, and while it isn’t as jarring there’s a bit of that here. They haven’t nailed the transitions between the parts that shred and those that don’t in the same way that good metal bands do.
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I don’t think of Dreamcatcher as a metal band. I think they are not very different from most kpop girl groups, and the producers happen to shelve the more typical pop backing instrumental and replace it with one that hits all the same marks but does it with heavy rock guitars and drums and such in the instrumental. This gives the group a fantastic distinct sound, but not different from what is expected visually and in performance from kpop girl groups.
I think this dichotomy shows up in the difference between the recording and the music shows performance for this song. The recording can amp up the vocals. The performance reveals that, although they are singing along to the vocal backing track, the style of the vocals is typical kpop girl group breathy soprano, except for Siyeon who can belt to the rafters. The dance is exactly what you expect from contemporary kpop girl dances. (They line up and wave their arms decoratively!)
Anyway, I like this song. I like the quieter piano verses (or piano synth) then the heavy chorus. As long as I don’t think too hard about it all and whether it works or not, it is quite enjoyable.
I bet on Silent Night as an upcoming Hidden Treasure (I do LOVE that). Am I right? 🙂