NCT DREAM is back and they’re ready to take the high score with their new album! The NCT subunit has dropped their second full-length album Glitch Mode, led by it’s futuristic title track.
Right off the bat, “Glitch Mode” lives up to its title and motif. Kicking off with robotic voices welcoming listeners and introducing “Neo Culture Technology” (hence the NCT name), the song immediately subverts expectations, opting for a sleek hip-hop beat rather than a beat drop. The track itself has many layers that come together to create a unique mix of 808 bass, video game sound effects, and early-2000s futuristic pop vibes. Exactly like the song’s name, the track experiences multiple “glitches” in style. The song switches from the hard-hitting sound of the track and the rappers of the group to an ethereal vocal moment in the pre-chorus, before jumping right back into the action.
The definite stand-out “glitch” of the song is the bridge, which makes a dramatic change to a rock-driven dance break with fuzzy guitar chords perfect for a live performance. It’s a well-executed break from the futuristic hip-hop sound that has seen plenty of over-saturation in K-Pop. The track sticks to a classic formula, but adds engaging and unique elements, leaving listeners unsure of where the track will go next, but still excited to hear it.
As for the group’s performance, NCT DREAM shows once again that they are a talented and strong group of vocalists and rappers. Vocalists Renjun, Chenle, and Haechan particularly stand out in the last pre-chorus, commanding attention with their excellent vocal control and soaring vocals. One thing that could have used a switch-up like the track is the “shout” singing and gang vocals. It’s a very common delivery for NCT DREAM, so it would be nice to see them break away from that and go for more melodic delivery, especially since they are all talented vocalists. Even with that, it’s still catchy and fun to sing along to, so it won’t be leaving listeners’ heads anytime soon.
“Glitch Mode” is a fun change for NCT DREAM. While upon first listen, it might be a bit hard for new listeners to get into, by the second time through, you’ll find yourself moving to the beat and singing along. It’s great to see a group take a sound that is tried and true but then add experimental elements to create a unique experience. It’s also great to see the group fully commit to the concept, with the occasional “buffering” and the changes in genre that take listeners by surprise, much like finding a glitch in a game would. With this song, NCT DREAM has definitely leveled up.