In the lead-up to their first (!) full Korean album, Super Junior’s Donghae and Eunhyuk will each be releasing solo tracks. It’s unclear whether these are part of (or separate from) the unit album, but either way it’s a nice treat for fans. Donghae’s California Love enlists the help of NCT’s Jeno. But despite this double whammy of star power, the track leaves little impression.
Honestly, this sort of laid-back pop song is hard to review. It sets its ambitions fairly low and accomplishes its job. Whenever I hear this sound, I’m immediately taken back to the mid-90’s – a golden age for slow jams and mid-tempos. If paired with killer hooks or compelling vocals, these songs can beguile with their vibe and groove. But without those vital ingredients, they tend to fade into the background. Such is the case with California Love.
Nothing about the track feels particularly unique or noteworthy. It’s fun to hear Jeno deliver a slightly more mature sounding rap, and Donghae’s tone is always engaging. It’s a pity that so much of it is slathered in vocal effects. This — coupled with a muted instrumental and repetitive phrasing – creates a languid experience that’s more drowsy than groovy. Nothing is “wrong” with the track, but in the vast realm of midtempo K-pop offerings, there are so many other songs I’d choose to listen to first. Hopefully, Donghae has stronger material up his sleeve for the big comeback album.