When we last met rookies AWEEK, they were thrilling us with the brisk dance track Breathe. Though I haven’t returned to that song as much as I would have thought, it still stands as one of 2019’s more refreshing efforts. New single 1.4.3 (Henry says hi!) opts for a brighter sound, delivering the kind of fresh summer boy group track we simply don’t hear anymore.
While I’m overjoyed to hear something in this style, I wish it came via a group with more resources. 1.4.3 (말해뭐해) is clearly operating on a rookie-level budget, and those constraints prevent it from becoming a true standout. Still, this blend of power pop guitar and bright synths is right up my alley. 1.4.3’s first few seconds seem to point toward an awful trap-pop concoction, but this is upended as soon as the chugging guitar enters the fray. This is soon joined by an added dose of rhythm, and the song builds from there. It never moves far from its pop/rock structure. Even the post-chorus rap is tied strongly to the instrumental, rather than forcing 1.4.3 to adopt some ill-conceived trap breakdown.
To be honest, these kinds of throwaway summer tracks used to be ubiquitous in K-pop, and I took them for granted. If released five years ago, I probably wouldn’t have even given 1.4.3 a listen. I appreciate its classic approach, but not much about the song truly pops. It’s just a nice, sing-along confection. But, in the midst of our current K-pop landscape, its straightforward structure and use of a classic sound palette feels almost novel. That’s more of a knock on 2020 K-pop than a wholehearted recommendation of this song, but I guess we’ll take what we can get.
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