Honestly, I had not heard of Hanbyeol prior to this release, but you might recognize her as the runner-up on 2020 survival show CAP-TEEN. She made her solo debut shortly after that in December of 2021, but it’s the Aaron Nervs produced track “Every Time” that has definitely caught my attention.
A no-frills synthpop/synthwave track, it mostly consists of a driving beat and expansive synths filling the background, along with the keyboard interjections and supporting vocals from Hanbyeol herself. Fortunately, the foundation of the beat and synths carry a consistent foot-tapping energy that help keep the song’s momentum pumping along throughout its duration. Also, Hanbyeol herself is able to elevate the track with an impressive vocal performance. It surprised me to learn that she only was 19 or 20 years old, as there’s definitely a more mature quality to it. Most importantly for a track that’s simple, the central melody explodes with life during the chorus with an addictive refrain that’s been easy on the ears and makes me want to hit replay.
While it feels odd to reward a track for being safe in format, I’ve listened to so much K-pop at this point that not having an asinine rap verse or switch-up for no reason in the middle of “Every Time” almost makes this refreshingly straight-forward. This type of sound is also has a timeless appeal for me as something in my sonic wheelhouse, though it should be interesting how well this ages as it’s put on playlists with other synth-pop tracks I enjoy. Regardless of that eventual outcome, what I do know now is that “Every Time” and Hanbyeol certainly deserve more attention than they’ll both get for this hidden gem.