There was a time when I actively looked forward to a Crush comeback. Songs like Hug Me, Oasis or the (incredible) New Jack Swing b-side Hey Baby pointed toward an artist willing to harness a sense of groove to craft dynamic r&b tracks. But over the past few years, Crush’s work has become synonymous with the kind of languid, formless sound that favors vocals and vibe over dynamic melody. It all feels a little self-indulgent to me.
New single Ohio isn’t amazing, but it does bring back a rhythmic approach that’s pretty appealing. The instrumental is driven by slapping percussion that feels unique and organic when stacked against the many recycled trap loops fueling this year in K-pop. This element is given greater texture via the addition of piano and wisps of background vocals. The former is played at its lower range, while the latter adds a sense of soulful drama to the arrangement. These three pieces really fuel the entire track, and do a nice job of it. It’s a relatively simple groove, but it’s steadfast and addicting.
Over the top, Crush offers a melody that feels loose and improvisational. Ohio hinges on a catchy repetition of its title, utilized often to provide an anchor for the verses. These are split evenly between vocals and hip-hop, both of which help contribute to the track’s unyielding rhythm. Ohio lasts just over three minutes, and ends as abruptly as it began. This adds to the song’s sense of casual, drop-the-beat-and-dance approach. The result may not be transcendent, but it’s a nice little earworm.
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