It’s always an odd choice to debut a sub-unit before the main group has yet to establish themselves. E’Last debuted last year, and quickly developed a dramatic sound that hearkened back to previous K-pop generations. They could do with another group comeback. Instead, four of its members have formed E’Last U and dropped The Beginning of Spring (right in the… middle of spring).
Sub-units can be a lot of fun, especially when they forge their own path and opt for a drastically different sound. The Beginning of Spring (봄의 시작) is different than E’Last’s singles, but not in a good way. The song gets major side-eye from me right from the start, as the instrumental hinges on two of my least favorite K-pop elements. First, we’ve got that plonky, xylophone-esque synth, which tends to land with a resounding thud every time it’s present in a track. Then, we have those lurching future bass synths, which melt like runny watercolors, draining all life from the production.
The Beginning of Spring would be salvageable with a great melody, but the song goes nowhere. The verses are pretty, and occasionally remind me of Infinite’s more experimental, symphonic work (Feel So Bad, anyone?). But, there’s barely a chorus to be found. Instead, the producers retreat to additional instrumental noodling, placing a lackluster refrain over a bed of distorted synths. Some of these textures are compelling on their own, but without a strong song draped over the top, Spring never gets off the ground. It’s like a car struggling to start, and the engine just won’t turn over.