RoaD-B have had an outsize presence on The Bias List relative to their lack of recognition elsewhere. I’m pretty confident that 99.9% of K-pop fans who don’t read this blog have yet to even hear their name. After all, they’ve only had one televised performance. Still, their debut single Nonstop was a huge highlight of this spring. You can sum up its success in one word: Sweetune.
I don’t think I need to reiterate how much I love Sweetune’s music. But, I will note that their melody lines are rarely obvious. They bend when you think they’ll break — soar when you expect them to resolve quietly. Yet if you immerse yourself in their work for some time, you can spot a Sweetune song from a mile away. It’s this blend of familiarity and surprise that makes their tracks so addictive and enduring.
The other important thing about Sweetune is that they’ll always give you a great chorus. This is one of the world’s great constants. In this regard, Nonstop felt like a slowly unfurling tease – all build-up and tension. New single Icarus, on the other hand, opens proudly with its megawatt hook. This refrain is by far the song’s greatest asset, acting like a big, sugary anchor. It’s a perfect blend of breezy and powerful and it’ll sweep you off your feet each time it comes around.
I’m not as thrilled about Icarus’s slowed-down verses. This is a personal peeve of mine. I don’t often enjoy dramatic energy shifts between verse and chorus, and though Sweetune navigate this approach as well as you’d expect, these segments feel more like connective tissue than highlights on their own. Luckily, a chanted pre-chorus adds a punch of energy just when the song needs it. Yes, Sweetune can even make dopey sing-talk sound fresh and compelling!
Despite the fact that this review reads as Sweetune worship, I’m actually docking the track for its production. Weird, huh? It’s a subjective thing, and I anticipate Icarus growing on me the longer I hear it. But, I think it could have been a song-of-the-year candidate had the energy of its chorus dominated the entire track. I guess it’ll have to settle for “the best comeback of September ’22 (so far).”
One thing’s for sure: I’ll be proudly waving the RoaD-B flag as long as they keep giving us Sweetune-produced bangers like this. What can I say? The blog’s called The Bias List for a reason!