Last September, Everglow reinvented themselves as retro synth warriors, releasing one of the year’s best songs in the process. La Di Da was immensely satisfying, finding a megawatt melody to match the girls’ always-impressive presence. Their charisma continues to flourish in the newly released First, but the song struggles to find a hook worth raving about.
I don’t often comment on styling, but both the video and images for this comeback give me serious 90’s J-pop vibes. I can’t help but wish the song followed suit, charging forward with an addictive rhythm and breathless energy. Instead, First borrows many tropes found in boy group hype tracks. While grand and imposing, the instrumental plods where it should soar. To their credit, the producers imbue this familiar structure with dynamic flourishes, Many of the song’s phrases round off with an unexpected element, whether in the form of a symphonic stab or an extra jolt of percussion. I also love the bed of theatrical vocals that underpin the bridge.
However, I’m tired of these big, ballsy instrumentals that fail to find an addictive rhythm. What happened to songs like T-ara’s Sugar Free? Its textures and samples aren’t all that different from First, but Sugar Free had drive. It had forward-moving momentum, rather than a series of aggressive beat drops. First’s towering chorus shows promise, but its verses are repetitive and forgettable. They’re essentially the same two melodic phrases repeated over and over, giving the track a predictable flow that feels borrowed from so many other tracks. The song’s bombast carries it over the line, but this is quite disappointing as a follow-up to La Di Da.