After their brief but shining stint on Road to Kingdom, Golden Child have returned with the final installment in their current trilogy of singles. Like Wannabe and Without You, One (Lucid Dream) was composed by Woollim in-house producer BLSSD. As incredibly talented as he is, I’ve been hesitant about him steering Golden Child’s sound. He tends to prefer darker sounds and more minimalist arrangements. And when I think of Golden Child, I long for the exact opposite. This made Wannabe (and especially) Without You a little frustrating, as much as I enjoyed both songs.
However, One (Lucid Dream) stands as the best entry in this trilogy, adhering to the BLSSD sound but bringing in more unique elements and an oomph of added energy. In this way, the song reminds me of Infinite tracks like The Eye. Yes, Golden Child may be the umpteenth boy group to journey down a darker route this year, but One does it with style and panache.
The song’s opening verse is a thing of beauty, powered by a crunchy, abrasive electro backbone that goes hard without feeling like needless posturing. Its texture feels new for both Golden Child and 2020 K-pop, yet manages to throw back to earlier eras at the same time. This segment opens up brilliantly for a gorgeous, vocal-rich pre-chorus. I will always argue that – voice for voice – Golden Child is the new-gen boy group to beat. Joochan and Y are a dynamite pair of main vocals, and they sound absolutely mighty here.
Next up, One swerves into the first part of its two-pronged chorus, perching a catchy hook over even more addictive bass guitar. I was afraid that this trendy element would steal most of the song’s attention, but it’s used sparingly enough to deliver maximum impact. An ethereal post-chorus follows immediately after, providing a nice sense of contrast as wisps of strings tickle the backdrop.
One’s second verse isn’t as structurally cohesive as I’d like. It feels like the song may lose the plot at any time, but there are still a ton of interesting things happening within its atmospheric arrangement. And any concerns I may have are countered by the fantastic dance break that comes later. I love the filtered vocoder effect during One’s final moments, and like most BLSSD tracks I only wish the song continued for another minute or so to completely fulfill this potential. A walloping climax would have sent this over the top, but I’m still very pleased with what One delivers.
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