At this point, I’ve given up on NCT’s title tracks delivering anything beyond the same ‘shout over bass-heavy distortion’ schtick. So, I’ll temper my thoughts with this in mind. Comparing a song like Glitch Mode (버퍼링) to My First And Last, Superhuman or Highway To Heaven is useless. They’re not even trying to do the same thing. Still, who would’ve thought the quirky hoverboard boys of Chewing Gum would end up here?
To me, Glitch Mode feels like an arcade-themed version of last year’s Hot Sauce. It’s chanty, repetitive and delivered without restraint or nuance. Though I would have preferred more sung melody, this works well as a hip-hop track. But, the performance feels quite grating. There’s A LOT OF SHOUTING – even more than usual. Dream would have been more successful to focus on flow and clever interplay. Instead, they just make their voices louder and louder. It’s boring.
Thankfully, Glitch Mode’s instrumental injects some diverse textures. The bulk of the track is standard NCT, heavy on the bass and filled with fitful percussion. The arrangement leverages moments of harmony to add warmth to this otherwise cold backdrop. Then, rock guitar emerges during the bridge. This dance break rips the song right open, offering far more dynamic energy than what’s come before. If NCT are going to shout over everything, they need this style of instrumental to match that intensity. Unfortunately, it’s a brief affectation rather than a guide for the entire production. The rest of Glitch Mode is business as usual.