Dreamcatcher may have concluded one nightmare with “You And I“, but they’ve been teasing the start of a new one for over a week now in form of “What“. There’s always a bit of apprehension that seeps in when a group you’re a fan of due to their consistent concept and sound hints at trying something different, but I haven’t been letdown by them yet and thankfully that doesn’t change with “What”.
A lot of focus for “What” figures to understandably fall on the vocals, but the instrumental is what immediately caught my attention. The piano intro is more ominous than anything else, and sure enough it segues right into a driving drums and heavy synths for a high-energy attention-getter, complete with the echoing “what” repeated over and over. However, the verses themselves are rather subdued, as if they’re setting something up, starting primarily with just drums and strings with hints of guitar. While it’s interesting as a standalone and thankfully doesn’t bog down, it does leave work for the chorus.
There isn’t much of a pre-chorus to speak of, so the chorus hits abruptly and hard, and it’s a standout for me again. We got tastes of this in the buildup to the release of “What”, so they just needed to not screw it up, but they ended up surpassing my expectations in a way. The start of the chorus uses rather typical progression for them and amps up the volume, with a spotlight being focused on the vocals. Fair enough, but the back-end with the repeated “what” is notably heavily and noiser, progressing towards an end I’ve wanted them to try and they’ve hinted at before, making it appealing in the present but excited for the future. “What” is a bit of an evolution as well, at least in that it’s less anime OST rock and more J-rock rock in sections.
While this isn’t public-friendly music in terms of what they want from girl groups (or anybody, really), my hope is that the chance this song gave to Dreamcatcher to showcase their vocals will be what draws attention. They put in a hell of a performance for “What”, with the usual suspects (mainly Siyeon and JiU this time) standing out, but also showcasing the fact that giving lines to Handong can pay dividends as she fits in nicely, and that Dami is continuing to show growth as a rapper with a standout section for herself.
Honestly, there’s so much relief that I loved “What”, because in the back of my mind there was the fear of the Asian Junkie curse where I do my first giveaway from my personal funds for a group ever and they would then fuck me over by releasing the only single of theirs I hate for the comeback. But in fact, as it turns out, I didn’t have much to complain about regarding “What” at all. Sure, the riffs could be harder or vocals could lean in to further aggression, but that could always be the case depending on taste. And for the purpose of “What”, there weren’t parts I would just rather skip past.
“What” continued Dreamcatcher’s run of standout singles that drew me in to begin with, and there’s enough diversity in it that the replayability should keep it relevant on my playlist. And while they may have begun down a new path, they definitely haven’t strayed from what has given them a small but loyal following, so it’s not only a strong start to a new era but reassuring for the direction going forward as well.