April thrives with “Take My Hand” thanks to a relentless, driving instrumental

Girl group April have now released seven singles, but as solid as many of those tracks have been, none has felt like the type of moment that might define a unique sound for the girls. In many ways, they’ve been plagued by a common struggle when it comes to rookie acts. Rather than branch out into uncharted territory, their music has been content to copy styles from more established and commercially successful groups. “Take My Hand” continues this trend, but at least this time they’re aping the sound of a group I personally love. To put it bluntly, the song feels more like G-Friend than G-Friend have sounded in months. But like any knockoff, its shortcomings reveal the fact that it’s just not as effective as the original.

One thing “Take My Hand” gets absolutely right is the instrumental. The propulsive, synth-powered beat employs the kind of relentless drive that has been missing from so many girl group releases these past few months. Bringing in a potent dose of sweeping strings for the chorus, the production feels suitably lush, even if it directly copies so many structural tricks we’ve heard before. Its moments of stop + start + explosive vocal recall WJSN‘s 2016 hit “Secret. The two songs share the same producers in e.one, a sort of faceless K-pop composition team who deserve much more notoriety than they garner.

The biggest hurdle for “Take My Hand” is its lack of an addictive chorus. It’s not that the melody here is particularly undeveloped or simplistic (a problem that’s been ubiquitous in 2017 K-pop), but its hook just doesn’t quite hit. Instead of mirroring the instrumental’s dynamic punch, the refrain treads water, content to remain aloof rather than explore lower or higher registers that might have given it a more memorable flow. Still, like the aforementioned “Secret”, I expect “Take My Hand” will reveal its charms over time. That bombastic bounce at its core certainly keeps things moving at a clip — too fast for those problematic elements to dent the song’s overall effect.

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