TEEN TOP are down a member, but “Love Is” marks a standout moment for the group

It’s been nearly four years since Teen Top has worked with producer Brave Brothers on a title track, even though he was largely responsible for building their trademark sound. But 2017 seems like the perfect time for a reunion. The group has lost a member in rapper L.Joe, and last year’s tepid Warning Sign was not one of their more popular offerings. Teen Top needed to remind the world what made them great in the first place, and new single “Love Is” definitely succeeds in doing that.

The song opens with its oft-repeated central hook, which is one of the slickest bits of pop melody we’ve heard all year. The wistful falsetto refrain contrasts well with the more aggressive moments that punctuate the second half of the extended chorus. It’s a dynamic arrangement that manages to remain streamlined and uncluttered even as it paints a diverse series of complimentary sounds. While the verses are not nearly as melodically catchy, I appreciate their forward-moving momentum. There aren’t any energy-killing beat drops or sing-talk catchphrases interrupting the track’s propulsive flow.

The instrumental of “Love Is” certainly helps keep things lively. It may open with a forlorn piano introduction, but that is quickly replaced by a synth-heavy, 80s dance beat that pulses with the kind of energy we rarely hear in K-pop these days. While I would have preferred a more memorable electro riff at its core (similar to the one that fuels their new B-side track (Call Me), it’s hard to argue with the dense wash of synths that power the chorus of “Love Is”. There are moments where they act almost like a drum fill, blasting forth in a laser-like surge that’s as galvanizing as it is cheesy. It all adds up to a standout moment for the group, and one of the best comebacks we’ve heard in awhile.


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