LOONA’s relatively long hiatuses make each comeback feel like an event. And, this time their title track is even more momentous. It’s their first full-group release since 2019. Leader Haseul is back, and the Bollywood-esque PTT (Paint The Town) welcomes her with aplomb. But, like so many K-pop singles this year, the song suffers from familiar setbacks.
Paint The Town opens incredibly strong, unveiling a dynamic verse. I love the use of percussion here. It would have been easy to replace these sounds with familiar blasts of distorted brass, but the use of tabla drums gives the instrumental a bit of character. Taken alongside Indian flute, you could certainly make an argument for appropriation. But, the collage of instruments works well for the song. Heavy thuds of percussion punctuate the verse, lending it a sense of drama while anchoring the melody line. And though the instrumental becomes more conventional during the pre-chorus, its build is quite satisfying.
Unfortunately, Paint The Town doesn’t know what to do for its chorus. So, it gets lazy. The melody droops into a forgettable chant, tethered to a tropey “la ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta.” It feels very much like a placeholder, and stops the song’s energy in its tracks. The instrumental also pulls back, going hard but slowing down. It doesn’t really jibe with the rest of the track, making Paint The Town feel scattershot. A post-chorus refrain salvages some of the momentum, but the damage has already been done. It’s a shame, because there’s so much to love about this track. I mean, that explosive bridge? Wow. But, I’m getting more and more exhausted with K-pop releases that are only enjoyable in fits and starts. I wish producers could write a fantastic song that remains fantastic all the way through.