VERIVERY are hitting us with rapid-fire comebacks. A few weeks ago they returned with r&b slow-jam ‘O’ – a song I’ve enjoyed more each time I play it. This served as a prelude to the release of their first full album, which also acts as the conclusion of their multi-part ‘O’ series. Sadly, this concept has proven a mixed bag when it comes to the music itself, and title track Undercover does little to distinguish itself from many current boy group offerings.
I’m generally pretty biased toward boy group music, but I don’t know what’s going on with the male side of K-pop this year. The majority of groups seem mired in this slow-tempo, shouty style that places bluster above hookiness. Undercover comes courtesy of production team The Hub, responsible for 2022 offerings like NMIXX’s O.O, Weeekly’s Ven Para and ENHYPEN’s Blessed-Cursed. Undercover shares many musical hallmarks with these tracks. Its creeping, trap-infused beat has some bite, though it feels very familiar. The vocal sample that opens the song is more interesting. I wish it reappeared within the track itself.
My biggest stumbling block with Undercover isn’t its familiarity. Yes, over the past few months we’ve heard an unending stream of K-pop tracks like this, but there’s still a ton of potential to be mined from this style. I may sound like a broken record, but Undercover’s biggest struggle is its lack of knock-your-socks-off hooks. I don’t know where all the topliners have gone in K-pop, but the melodies here just don’t hit. Like so many recent tracks, they feel disconnected and random. In fact, they’re kind of formless. Even the chorus feels more like chanted ad-libs — responses without a call. The melody of the pre-chorus has a nice curve, and Undercover’s final minute shifts the structure to deliver a much more promising series of hooks. I wish the entire song sounded more like this.