I often hesitate to use the word “underrated,” because it can mean different things to different people. But, when you compare quality of discography to chart and public success, Rainbow have got to be one of K-pop’s most under-appreciated groups. When they disbanded in 2016, many lamented the end of an era. But, few seemed to care when the girls were actually releasing music! Three years later, Rainbow have re-formed in celebration of their tenth anniversary.
I’m not sure whether this reunion will last longer than this initial release (I hope so!), but it represents a rare second act for K-pop. I only wish it had resulted in a mini or full album with an upbeat title track that didn’t just feel like a glorified fan song. There’s nothing wrong with fan songs, but they can only go so far when it comes to musical invention. Aurora is pleasant and sentimental. It actually reminds me of a more robust, bouncier version of Kei’s I Go from last month. And of course, it’s an absolute joy to hear the ladies of Rainbow back together in any capacity.
However, taken apart from the ceremonial anniversary it honors, Aurora is pretty bland. It has a nice drive to it, pulsing forward on warm strings and electronic piano. Its chorus surges with an appealing lushness, taking advantage of the girls’ always-refreshing vocals. It’s a perfectly fine, middle-of-the-road pop song, elevated by nostalgia for times when Rainbow were releasing tracks as epic as Mach or Sweet Dream. Thankfully, that’s a strong nostalgia for many of us!
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