AWEEK debuted early this year with the forgettable The More I See, which positioned them in a cutesy mold with little success. As is common for rookies of their stature, the guys have switched things up completely for their first comeback. In this case, the gamble pays off. Breathe is a surprisingly hard-hitting dance track that officially puts them on my radar.
The AWEEK budget is still decidedly low, and Breathe doesn’t really do anything new within the constraints of 2019 K-pop, but its energy is great and it pushes forward with plenty of momentum. Breathe’s instrumental feels in constant build, as if AWEEK’s producers took the production approaches usually reserved for EDM pre-choruses and spread them across an entire track. The beat is unrelenting. It percolates with footfalls of electronic percussion that are constantly chopped into interesting structures. Abrasive wisps of synth pepper the track, adding an extra jolt to an instrumental that already feels in constant tension.
Melodically, Breathe mostly just follows the lead of its production. This is probably for the best, as it would be difficult to find a fleshed-out refrain that could compete with such breakneck pacing. While none of the hooks – apart from the chorus – really stick, they also don’t detract from the intensity the song is seeking to forge. The second-verse rap makes for an especially fun compliment to the fitful percussion. Its nimble flow is much preferred to the half-time trap breakdown that could’ve been lodged here. Someone please give AWEEK some extra money to promote and film a big-budget music video. If Breathe is any indication, they’ve got what it takes.
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