SF9 have always struck me as the quintessential, generic boy group. Talented, yes, but without a defining style or concept that would make them memorable. Their singles tend to feel like the kind of grab-bag fare doled out on survival shows like ‘Produce 101‘. You get the sense that any K-pop group could tackle them without the end result changing much. This diversity in sound makes for a scattershot discography. For every “O Sole Mio,” there’s an “Enough.” New single “RPM” shifts things up once again, but winds up as fairly forgettable.
Rather than opt for bright summer styles, “RPM” finds SF9 in darker territory. The opening verse resounds with militaristic percussion and some great guitar, and the song continues to satisfy during a harmonic pre-chorus that spotlights the group’s vocals. Unfortunately, “RPM” then launches into one of the ugliest instrumental drops I’ve heard all year. For a moment, this segment seems to take the place of an actual chorus, but the guys quickly return with a so-so refrain to tie everything together.
As happy as I am to hear an actual melody, it’s still tied too strongly to the lumbering drop that precedes it. Like so much of the group’s material, the chorus is not awful. It’s just cripplingly generic. With a title like “RPM”, I really hoped that the track would bring a new, exciting energy. Instead, we’re kept at a lurching tempo all the way through, chugging from one moment to the next without much charm. This corner of the K-pop market is already well-covered by groups like Monsta X, so I’m not sure why SF9 didn’t opt for something more unique.