Despite its many units and incarnations, the NCT universe has remained pretty consistent in sound. This extends to its Chinese vanguard, known as WayV. Their burgeoning discography has been a sampler platter of SM Entertainment influences, tied together by an injection of distorted guitar and tight, layered vocals. New single Turn Back Time (超时空 回) kicks off their first full-length album, and delivers everything you’d expect from a bombastic SM boy group.
My favorite elements of WayV’s music hearken back to agency seniors like TVXQ and EXO. WayV is more rap-focused than either of those groups, but they always make room for towering vocal arrangements and excellent dance breaks. Now, me being me, I’d prefer verses that were more melody than chant, but I’m happy to capitulate when the instrumental feels this daring. The NCT brand is no stranger to aggressive, abrasive production, but Turn Back Time does a good job skirting the line between experimental and satisfying. Its hard-hitting blend of frenzied percussion and swerving, warped electronics hits the spot — and that’s before the crunch of electric guitar enters the fray!
While Turn Back Time’s verses are mostly filled with the kind of hip-hop posturing that defines most current boy group releases, the song takes flight during its vocal-heavy chorus. The pre-chorus sets the tone, pulling back for a more subdued melody before the full weight of the group’s voices hits. The militant hook is pure SM – simultaneously grand and icy. It gets more satisfying each time around, as additional elements are pulled into the track’s orbit. This culminates in a whopper of a climax, fueled by the kind of power notes that have always made this kind of song such a wild experience.
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