[Review] NCT Dream grow up a bit on sleek “BOOM”

It’s been almost a year since the last proper NCT Dream comeback, though with the way the ever-rotating NCT system works, these long hiatuses never feel quite as endless. New single “BOOM” also acts as the first promoted song under the group’s six-member configuration. With Mark graduating from Dream at the end of 2018, the group is down one of its most recognizable voices. While noticeable, this absence doesn’t completely waylay the appeal of “BOOM”. It’s another solid single within a consistently strong discography.

Compared to past title tracks, “BOOM” carries a sleeker vibe, nodding to the group’s growing age. Stack this up against 2016’s “Chewing Gum (still a great song, by the way) and it’s almost hard to make a comparison. In this way, “BOOM” lacks some of Dream’s gawky charm, and feels like a song that could have been performed by any NCT unit. That’s been a common thread throughout 2019, with these once-distinct units all kind of blending into one. But hey, as long as the music’s good, that’s not a huge quibble.

“BOOM” opens with a minimalist dose of percussion, underlined by warped, seesaw synths that stay just short of grating. This first verse is given over almost entirely to rap, and isn’t as immediately engaging as I’d expect from a Dream track. Things improve as we move into the pre-chorus, which offers a rhythmic melody perched over appealing harmonies. The chorus of “BOOM” hearkens back to SM Entertainment’s urban pop roots, sounding as if it could have been released way back in 2008 alongside SHINee’s “Replay.”

I like the dual nature of this hook, opening with a staccato vocal repetition that’s bolstered by a buoyant burst of chant-like melody halfway through. This leads to some characteristic SM power notes during the song’s bridge, which send “BOOM” off on a high. Interestingly, these are not delivered by Haechan, who often takes the more challenging vocal moments within Dream’s tracks. This bodes well for the unit’s future, since he seems to be next on the docket to graduate.

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“Why didn’t IATFB review this?”

Aside from the brief melodic flurry towards the end of the chorus, nothing else galvanized me. It’s solid for me and that’s it.

Note: Much like I attach the reviews of other authors to my reviews, I’m gonna add this to the end of reviews by other authors from now on in order to avoid having to field this question over and over.

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