This May, Ladies’ Code connected with producers 1Take and TAK to deliver the funky, brass-filled Feedback. It felt like a return to the group’s older sound — heavy on groove and sassy vocal delivery. The song emerged after an extended hiatus, which itself was preceded by years of more subdued material. If new single Set Me Free is any indication, Ladies’ Code are intent on continuing to explore the upbeat side of their sound, sticking with Feedback’s collaborators for a sequel that works in fits and starts.
My favorite element of Set Me Free is actually its instrumental. I tend to complain about beat drops in K-pop, but I love the post-chorus freak-out that fuels Free. It feels like NCT 127’s Superhuman (also a 1Take/TAK production) as seen through a funky girl group prism. This energy could have been used more generously throughout the rest of the track, as Free‘s verses drag more than expected.
Ladies’ Code’s vocals — an asset during the laid-back, assured Feedback — are given no favor here. At their best, the trio offers a warm tone that melds pop and r&b performance with a pleasantly sly result. Set Me Free’s verses take advantage of this to some degree, but the pre-chorus strains their voices with an oddly structured melody that comes across as quite shaky. The chorus gives them more power to work with, but the melody still feels elusive and unsatisfying. Thankfully, the instrumental wallop that follows provides a needed anchor, as well as a distinct calling card for the track. It’s not enough to elevate Set Me Free above its predecessor, but it’s a nice little production flourish nonetheless.