[Review] WJSN undermined by messy arrangement on otherwise strong “La La Love”

2018 felt like the year where WJSN really embraced their signature sound, resulting in a pair of spacey, synth-dripped title tracks that built on the potential they first displayed with 2016’s “Secret“. September’s excellent “Save Me Save You” established a lofty precedent, and it shot my anticipation sky-high for the follow-up. New single “La La Love” shares the same songwriters, but turns out to be surprisingly hit and miss.

“La La Love” is a song in two contrasting parts, and each elicited a vastly different reaction from me. Its chorus retains the majestic, synth-and-vocal-driven pop sound that makes their best work so absorbing. We get a nice sense of propulsion as swirling vocal lines compete for dominance and the instrumental feels almost as robust as the layers of voices that drive the refrain. I could do without the melodic similarity to IZ*ONE’s “La Vie En Rose“, but at least it’s not the sole hook during this segment.

However, the verses are where everything falls apart. Even after several listens, the disparate fragments of rap and melody don’t come together or seem to build towards anything. Instead, we get the dreaded “murky” arrangement I so often complain about when reviewing the moodier side of Korean boy groups. There are too many unnecessary tempo shifts and disconnected hooks. Instead of supporting the chorus, the verses feel aimless and momentum-draining.

It’s a shame, because WJSN’s title tracks have been steadily improving over the past few years (the TWICE-esque “Happy” being the notable exception). “La La Love” preserves some of the hallmarks that have contributed to this growth, but too often strays into forgettable territory.

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