DJ/guitarist Raiden is one of those SM acts who doesn’t get enough attention. Since he’s not a vocalist, his work is often paired with SM idols who sing the melodies over his tracks. This has led to a few great collaborations, my favorite being last year’s Yours with EXO’s Chanyeol, Lee Hi and Changmo. For an artist who might be most synonymous with dance music, Raiden has a knack for crafting slower, r&b-influenced jams as well.
That describes new single Love Right Back, which is taken from his first mini album. The track pairs his music with NCT’s Taeil & rapper lIlBOI. Sadly, Love Right Back isn’t as strong as Yours — despite drawing from many of the same sounds. It’s a head-nodding mid-tempo, driven by bright keys and guitar. The beat is steady and satisfying, and the song casts some real sparks when gospel-like vocals emerge to support lIlBOI’s rap.
I think Love Right Back could have pushed even further in this direction. There are points where the track adds brassy undertones, giving the rhythm real swing. But too often, the song settles for ‘pleasant.’ Taeil’s vocals are warm and rich, even if he isn’t given much room to stretch or play around with the melody. lIlBOI makes for an odd match. I don’t think his higher tone quite vibes with the track’s energy. The catchy “da da da” hook is used effectively throughout, adding spice to the laidback chorus. Love Right Back is relentlessly nice, with robust moments that poke through here and there.
It’s nice. The rapper kind of cuts through the niceness a bit. They don’t let Taeil fly very high, but he gets to belt a little. It’s fine. Not going to go out of my way to listen to it..
The rest of the EP maintains the same pleasant vibes. Sometimes I feel like that kind of thing, but nothing here screamed “playlist me!” I like the b-sides a little better than the title, but only because I don’t really care for LIlBOI’s rap tone or annoyingly capitalized stage name.