April enjoyed a well-deserved breakthrough with this spring’s Lalalilala, which stands as their highest-charting title track yet. As a special thank you, the girls have released a short summer album, heralded by the buoyant Now Or Never. If it wasn’t already clear from my daily “Summer of K-pop” posts, I’ll always welcome a fun summer track — even better if they take influence from some of the sub-genre’s legends like Duble Sidekick or Black Eyed Pilseung.
Now Or Never does its best to be frothy summertime fun, and it definitely has its charms. April are a great conduit for the sound, delivering a bright, cheerful vocal without going too cutesy. I quite like the song’s opening verse. It has the pleasant, synth-fueled drive that characterizes so many of the great K-pop summer tracks. At this point, Now Or Never feels like a younger sister to Cosmic Girls’ excellent Boogie Up from last year. This charm continues until verse two forces an awful trap-rap breakdown on us, and this unfortunate instrumental element sticks around until the next pre-chorus. Talk about a bummer summer moment.
Of course, the true hallmark of a terrific summer track is its chorus. Now Or Never conjures a real racket here, bringing in carnival-like brass to give the rhythm more layers. Honestly, I’m not sure whether this is successful or just obnoxious. Either way, it comes across as a little frantic. For a track of this nature, a satisfying chorus should feel breezy and uncluttered, but Now Or Never confidently heads in the opposite direction. If nothing else, I guess I have to admire the chutzpah!
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