Back with double title tracks, Taeyang has made a long awaited comeback as mandatory military enlistment looms in the distance. While “Darling“ stripped back on production flourishes to shine a strong spotlight on his powerful vocals, “Wake Me Up” takes a trendier approach. Big Bang, and its members’ solo work, have such an idiosyncratic sound that bending to trends doesn’t usually suit them. And as expected, the EDM elements of “Wake Me Up” are its weakest point.
When I say EDM, I don’t mean the kind of club-ready fare peddled by so many idol groups. “Wake Me Up” is decidedly down-tempo, positioned more as a hazy, late-night after-party than the main event. Its electronics have a murky, plodding effect — kind of like a low energy version of The Chainsmokers’ ubiquitous template. It’s too bad, because the song’s atmospheric verses show promise. Taeyang’s voice is positioned over a slow roil of building synth. The pre-chorus is also impressive, as he tackles falsetto for a dramatic piece of melody.
Unfortunately, the chorus is a let-down. As with many tracks of this genre, it’s simply too repetitive — without enough melodic meat on its bones to earn that repetition. The song needs some element of surprise, something running counter to the all-too steady lumber of the instrumental. Taeyang is a much more dynamic artist than this, but “Wake Me Up” doesn’t give him enough to play with. Instead, its focus seems to be on building atmosphere. This is a fine goal, but a truly outstanding song can temper its mood with a more captivating structure and approach.