After releasing her first mini album earlier this year, Yukika headed to the dancefloor with the wonderful throwback The Moment. That song plunged deeper into 80’s synth-driven sounds, and pointed toward a direction I’d love to hear her explore further. With new digital single Loving You (not a Minnie Riperton cover!), she’s reverted to a sleepier city pop style. As usual, it suits her. But, I wish the track had more oomph.
This is my gripe with a lot of so-called “city pop.” The genre isn’t inherently subdued, but K-pop seems to think it is. Sure, Loving You’s instrumental swirls with satisfying strings and a hearty dose of brass. But, the overall arrangement needs a kick up the backside. How can the percussion be both sprightly and drowsy? It’s a strange balance I can’t quite come to terms with. I want to dance, but every time the instrumental seems to flourish, it drags down once more.
On the plus side, that aforementioned combo of strings and brass is lovely. There’s a warmth to this track that hearkens back to sounds of the seventies. I can imagine a live band playing the hell out of it. However, the song is stuck within the narrow confines of today’s production techniques, requiring a knockout hook or ballsy vocal performance to flourish. Loving You boasts neither, making it a pleasant trifle too hesitant for its own good. Yukika’s voice comes dangerously close to disinterested – an affectation K-pop seems to find synonymous with city pop. It’s too bad, because this could have been a real stunner.