It’s been almost a year since we last heard from Pink Fantasy – an alarmingly long hiatus for a rookie group struggling to gain a foothold in the competitive K-pop market. Worse yet, despite sharing the same name, this iteration of Pink Fantasy is actually a sub-unit consisting of only four of the group’s seven members. Most glaringly, their iconic rabbit-headed “hidden” member is missing from Shadow Play (그림자). I’m still a little weirded out by the whole rabbit schtick, but it’s kind of disappointing to see it missing from this comeback. At the very least, the presence of a humanoid rabbit might have made Shadow Play feel less generic.
Along with the boys, many K-pop girl groups have opted for a darker sound this year. But rather than devolve into tuneless moodiness, this modern “girl crush” sound is most often tethered to beat-heavy instrumentals with vaguely exotic electronic loops. Shadow Play is no different, putting greater emphasis on its production than melody.
The chorus is the kind of repetitive nonsense we hear too often from K-pop’s current crop of girl groups. Too many “rum pum pums” and “shakey shake its” in place of an actual refrain. It’s as if the producers lose interest halfway through the track and just fill the choruses with halfhearted asides. When strung together, they approximate a melody. But, there’s not really much here. I mean, imagine stripping Shadow Play down to an acoustic version with only guitar and voice. It would sound pretty ridiculous, and quickly reveal the song’s shortcomings. Thankfully, the production attempts to fill many of these gaps. The beat is nothing new or interesting, but has a satisfying thump to it. Still, this is a far cry from the daring, theatrical Fantasy from last summer. I blame the rabbit.
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