While combining summer and horror themes can be pretty normal for books and movies, having things go bump in the night in an otherwise warm and laid-back season is a concept that feels almost foreign in the context of K-pop summer releases. But leave it to K-pop’s underdogs Dreamcatcher to switch things up with their new mini-album, ‘Summer Holiday’.
“Rather than a typical kind of ‘refreshing’ concept, Dreamcatcher will beat the summer heat by giving people a sense of chills,” shared member Handong in an online showcase for their mini-album, as translated by Soompi. ‘Summer Holiday’ opens with ‘Intro’, a haunting instrumental track that does a good job of setting the tone for the rest of the project. It blends the rock and metal elements that make up Dreamcatcher’s DNA, alongside the pop and EDM sounds that often dominate summer releases.
Title track ‘BEcause’ tells the story of a love that slowly grows into an obsession (“Shine on me warmly, shine on me / I’m the only one in your arms forever”), and its creepy, spine-tingling arrangement certainly lives up to the story and emotions the group hope to express. The track effortlessly transitions between upbeat synth verses and intense choruses powered by electric guitar riffs, with its slow but melodic bridge bringing the song to a satisfying climax.
Another album cut that explores EDM is ‘Whistle’. As its name suggests, the track is driven forward by a catchy whistle melody and constant electric guitar riffs in the background, reminiscent of summer pop tracks from the 2010s. While not the most original, ‘Whistle’ shines a light on the group’s smooth vocals – not to mention a captivating rap verse from Dami – and saves it from being too forgettable.
But being the summer album that it is, ‘Summer Holiday’ isn’t without its unabashedly pop tunes either, like the surprisingly bubblegum pop ‘Airplane’. There’s also the laid-back, city pop-inspired ‘Alldaylong’, falling right in line with the recent trend of ’80s-influenced releases in K-pop. The track, which features a smooth guitar solo, wasco-composed by leader JiU, and is given another dimension of warmth with rich vocals by Handong (“The feeling that came like fate / I feel like I’m dreaming”).
Dreamcatcher close out the album on an emotional, sombre note with ‘A Heart Of Sunflower’, a classic Korean ballad about heartbreak and unrequited love. While the song’s evocative lyricism does tug on heartstrings (“If you can hold my hand like this / I don’t mind if it takes a long time for you to come back”) and even plays with the idea of nostalgia (“Time tells me to stop now / Today once again I shed tears thinking of you”), the track itself would be almost unremarkable if not for the group’s strong vocal performance.
While the strength of Dreamcatcher’s ‘Summer Holiday’ lies in its varied, atypical selection of songs and genres, the girl group also prove that there’s more than enough room for grittier, hard-hitting music in K-pop during the typically buoyant summer season.
- Release date: July 30
- Record label: Dreamcatcher Company