I did not have “BTOB’s Lee Changsuk making a comeback with a synthwave song” on my 2022 K-pop bingo card! But, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. The genre has been a huge inspiration this year, both in K-pop and global music. Eventually it’ll wear itself out the way all trends do, but for now I’m still happy to hear this familiar sound.
Surrender is billed as a special “reissue” single, which is confusing because I’m not sure what it’s reissuing beyond a trendy style. As far as I can tell, this is an original work — not a cover. I suppose it all adds to the nostalgia factor, as Changsub dips his toes into 80’s sounds. It’s refreshing to hear his voice on something beyond a boilerplate ballad. Surrender is still pretty middle-of-the-road by synthpop standards, but its groove gives it some bite.
The song’s hypnotic synths fade in right from the beginning, forging a satisfying rhythm that remains steady throughout the track. Detailed touches give Surrender character. Filtered backing vocals pop up during the verses to lend an otherworldly, robotic appeal. The two-part chorus takes its time unfurling, matching the languid pace of the song but delivering a shot of anthemic heft that gives Surrender a strong centerpiece. However, the track lacks a compelling narrative. It bops along nicely from start to finish, but doesn’t build toward any memorable climax or resolution. This makes it more of a mood piece than a knockout return. Still, I’m very willing to dive into this mood for three minutes of retro goodness.