One of my goals almost every year in regards to K-pop is to pay more attention to groups from smaller companies, and this year I actually came through with it pretty well. Playback was among the first of such groups that caught my eye with their self-titled track, “Playback,” and it still remains one of the best even at the end of the year. More often than not, debuting groups will try to blast their way to getting audience attention, which usually means songs that are more noise than song, especially when the companies who rely on this tactic are often the ones with too meager a production budget to make big sound good.
Playback took the opposite direction with “Playback,” where understated drums and crisp piano picking up where the drums left off (coupled with a very memorable vocalist in the form Woolim) led to one of the best low-key K-pop jams I’ve heard this year. Small balance modifications between instrumentation and vocals act as the driver of dynamics, making “Playback” sound full without the weight of excess bells and whistles. This balancing act also lets the middle 8 shine against the rest of the song despite being minimally different in actuality.
If they keep this quality up, Playback will certainly be on my radar for a long time to come.