[Review] NU’EST’s moody return with “Bet Bet” feels underwhelming

It goes without saying that NU’EST’s career has been anything but typical. Their phoenix from the ashes story is the stuff of K-pop legends, and it all culminates today with their first full-group album in almost three years. After a highly successful 2017-18 in the form of sub-unit NU’EST W, the group’s reunion is also one of the most anticipated moments of the year. So, with all this momentum and excitement, why does “Bet Bet” feel so underwhelming?

There’s something to be said for sticking to your guns, and NU’EST have returned to the exact point they were at in 2016 before ‘Produce 101‘ shot their popularity into the stratosphere. “Bet Bet” could easily be a b-side on either of their 2016 albums, and that’s okay. However, three years in the future, the K-pop landscape has changed quite a bit. What once sounded forward-thinking now feels over-saturated. Not only have we heard this exact sound from the group before, but the moody future bass style of “Bet Bet” has almost become commonplace. It leaves little impact.

Instrumental choices aside, the biggest problem is that “Bet Bet” just isn’t that memorable of a song. Though it took me a while to come around to them at first, I was blown away by each and every NU’EST W title track. All three carried the same signature style, but managed to play around with mood and genre in fresh ways. “Bet Bet” doesn’t stretch itself in any interesting directions. It’s simply a pleasant retread all the way through. The chorus is catchy but relatively one note, relying more on Baekho’s commanding voice than any surprising melodic construction. It all feels like a whimper when it should have been a bang.

NU’EST have rocketed into the A-list, but K-pop tastes are fickle. I’d hate to see the group undone by lackluster material — especially when it’s taken so much work to get to the top.

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