A K-pop group’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
Lucy would tell you that the strength of their music is “ambience,” and I wouldn’t disagree. But, I’d argue that their best work is even more indebted to a sense of build. A three minute pop song doesn’t really do them justice, and that’s one reason I found new single Hero a little underwhelming. Thankfully, it’s paired with the brilliant Stove (난로) – a song already familiar to fans through live performances.
Though not a rollicking epic like last year’s Flare, Stove carries a similar slow-burn quality. It’s largely structured on a looping verse, which repeats often but snowballs with greater prominence as the instrumental builds and the phrasing becomes more dramatic. This is a really odd comparison, but the melody actually reminds me of one of my favorite trot songs: Day That Sun Comes Up by Song Dae Kwan. Despite completely different tones, the two share a melodic warmth the envelops the listener.
Like all of Lucy’s work, you don’t realize how brilliant Stove is until you reach its climax. That long, drawn-out build makes the song’s catharsis all the more gratifying. It kicks off with a stirring high note courtesy of lead vocal Sangyeop, followed by a moment of stillness that fades to complete silence as if the song has finished. But, it soon revs up once more, as a choir of voices join the band to drive things home with a resounding, cinematic flourish. At this point, the track’s build has really taken you on a complete journey, and nobody is doing this better right now than Lucy.