Boy group Y&W (Young & Wild) debuted this past July, but were so unknown that even I missed them. However, every so often a great idol track emerges from a group like this, even within the restraints of a limited budget and lo-fi music video. Their follow-up single Thirsty Now (목말라) is a refreshing ode to sounds of K-pop past, existing outside of trends to deliver a solid pop song that officially puts Y&W on my radar.
The first thing I noticed about Thirsty Now was its funky, guitar-laced beat. It’s refreshingly uncluttered, and grooves with the kind of freewheeling style that characterized Seventeen’s debut-era singles. Thirsty Now is nowhere near as ambitious or crisply produced, but its straightforwardness is quite refreshing. Percussive verses give way to a surging chorus that packs a surprising punch. But my favorite moment comes right after that chorus, as a catchy synth riff underlines the song’s central hook. K-pop has struggled with how to work its way out of choruses for a while now, and this is a good testament to the fact that — sometimes — simple is better.
Thirsty Now also gives us an interesting bridge. Most of the song’s rap is channeled into this moment, and it’s elevated by a symphonic backing track that lends the segment great drive. The instrumentation samples are all canned, but I appreciate the effort to create a mini-climax when it would have been easy to simply copy what every other group was doing. This bridge leads into a standout final chorus, where the guitar comes ripping back to add weight and intensity to Thirsty Now’s finale. The song may be a little rough around the edges, but I wish more boy groups would tackle some of these sounds.