It’s been two years since Apink had a proper comeback, though they’ve released music since then. New full-length Horn is deemed a “special” album, which usually means limited promotion. But, it’s great to have the group back with hit-making production team Black Eyed Pilseung. Though I wasn’t as effusive as others when it came to 2019 single Eung Eung, the song topped many year-end lists and represented the sound of a girl group maturing musically — almost a decade into their career.
Dilemma follows a similar template, though it borrows equally from 2018’s excellent I’m So Sick. Plenty of K-pop groups are opting for mood pieces this year and when Dilemma’s firing on all cylinders, it has them all beat. Black Eyed Pilseung are experts at finding just the right synth tones for the job, and the squiggly riff that ornaments this chorus is pure bliss. It’s followed by an equally dynamic melody that ensures the ladies aren’t upstaged by their own production.
Dilemma gets off on the right foot, opening with a brisk beat underlined by seesawing synth that keeps the listener on guard. The pre-chorus is more predictable, but I enjoy the inclusion of guitar. Sadly, the track collapses in its second verse. I really thought K-pop was moving past these tempo-shifting verses, but Dilemma’s is especially flagrant. On its own, there’s nothing wrong with the arrangement. It’s moody and interesting. But, it feels ripped from another track entirely. Dilemma is compelling enough to rest on its own strengths. Musical diversions only dull its overall effect. Thankfully, that dynamic chorus is always lurking right around the corner.