I’m a massive proponent of groups finding a small circle of collaborators and sticking with them long enough to develop a signature sound. Over the past few years, SNUPER and Sweetune have been a match made in heaven, crafting a near-flawless run of distinct (but not identical) singles. With “Tulips” — and the introduction of new production team Obros — that incredible streak has been broken.
For me, SNUPER was never about being retro — a somewhat limiting label placed on them since 2016’s “Platonic Love“. They were about the incorporation of classic pop melody within a K-pop landscape increasingly averse to it. Even when their music embraced last year’s tropical trend, they flipped expectations to deliver two of the most tightly crafted, hookiest tracks of 2017. What a fall from grace, then, to hear the half-spoken, half-sung chorus of “Tulips”. It manages a bit of old-school r&b groove, and takes decent advantage of Suhyun and Sangil’s formidable vocals. But compare it to the choruses of “The Star Of Stars“ or “Back:Hug“ and it sounds meek and formless.
But the real problem with “Tulips” — as with so many other songs this year — are its verses. Melodically, they’re nothing. Literally, dead space. Yes, the guys sound nice (they always do), but I’m absolutely done with this style of subdued verse that carries no discernible melodic through-line. Instead of a momentum-building, purposeful set-up, we get a collection of throwaway posturing that’s impossible to recall because there’s nothing worth remembering in the first place. This same structure (or lack thereof) has stricken way too many boy group comebacks this year, and I’m absolutely frustrated that it’s derailed SNUPER’s music as well. “Tulips” displays a few flashes of potential when its surprisingly dramatic bridge finally kicks things into gear, but taken as a whole it’s a major step back. And as a longtime advocate for them and their music, it kills me to write that.