Last time I reviewed a NewJeans song, we were still basking in the glow of their surprise debut. Since then, tracks like Attention and Hype Boy have gone on to define the year. It’s rare to see a K-pop group rise to fame so quickly. I’m interested in how their future music leverages that fame, and pre-release Ditto is the first taste of that next era.
Ditto adheres to the hallmarks that have made NewJeans such industry darlings. It’s a little lo-fi, a little throwback and a lot atmospheric. Like all their music, I expect it will be a grower. But, I can’t say I’m immediately grooving the way I was when I first heard Attention. Over a bed of synths and skittering percussion, the song unfolds at a languid pace. The fast-paced – almost trip-hop – beat makes an interesting contrast with the unhurried vocal melody that floats over the top. The energy is mellow, but constantly unsettled.
NewJeans’ performance compels even during the song’s quieter moments. Their vocals are reminiscent of the late-90’s/early-00’s – a pop era that’s seen renewed interest lately. Touches of harmony add texture, but throughout the bulk of Ditto the girls’ voices are placed front and center. This isn’t a showy performance, but there’s an addictive confidence in its nonchalant approach. Sometimes, it feels more like watching a drama than listening to a pop song. Time will tell if Ditto enjoys a chart run as impressive as their past singles (it’s already lodged at number one), but the track continues to build NewJeans’ unique musical world. For that alone, it’s a definite success.