The five ladies of Laboum return with “Between Us” – the first comeback since the departure of maknae and main rapper Yulhee from the group. It’s done in striking contrast to their previous playful summer release “Only U,” but is also not too far from concepts they’ve dabbled with in the past. How does this more sophisticated side of Laboum compare?
Release Date: July 27th, 2018
- Between Us
- Love Game
- Between Us (Instrumental)
Total Runtime: 00:10:38
Recommended For: Fans of late 2000s pop, those looking for a more mature sound from Laboum
NOT Recommended For: Someone looking for a high-energy aegyo concept or, conversely, something aggressively rap or hip-hop
The single album begins with title track “Between Us,” a rather subdued pop track that is blissfully devoid of any unnecessary rap breaks. My favorite aspect of this song is undeniably the melodic whistling motif that accompanies the instrumental of the verses. It toes the line between whimsical and eerie, adding a much-needed level of interest to the otherwise very mellow track. “Between Us” is the type of song that I can definitively say sounds well-produced, but something about it just doesn’t immediately beg a second listen. The verses build in a way that makes it seem as if the song is going somewhere – somewhere dark, exciting, explosive. But when the chorus finally hits, it’s somewhat underwhelming, and the song really loses all of its steam in a sequence of sung lines that are nice, but nothing more than that. I will say this song is a grower, but my initial first listen did leave me somewhat unenthused.
The concept of “Between Us” is something in K-Pop I like to call “gloomy-sexy.” It’s “What About You” aged up a few years, but not quite as catchy. There’s nothing overtly provocative about the music video, but I would still consider it to be their most mature concept to date. And it looks great on them. I’m starting to realize as more of my favorite girl groups disband what little interest I have in the girl groups of the new gen, and Laboum is an almost unexpected exception to that rule. I think they’ve done well at establishing a sound for themselves while never limiting themselves to a single concept. And to the girls’ credit, they’re able to move between concepts like “What About You” and “Aalow Aalow” and “Hwi Hwi” without giving their audience whiplash. All in all, “Between Us” didn’t quite deliver the special something I was looking for from Laboum, but it’s nice. And ultimately, I appreciate it as a welcome change from a market supersaturated by “cute.”
2. Love Game
Up next is the only other track on the single album, a slightly darker syntho-pop song called “Love Game.” Something about this track gives me very strong 2007 Britney Spears vibes. And I kind of love it, though I also acknowledge it makes the song sound a bit dated. It begins with an almost aggressive, pulsing beat that precedes ZN’s low vocals. The build-up to the chorus has a noticeably different sound, making the track as whole a dynamic piece that is hard to pin down to just one style of music.
I will say there are some really nice harmonies in this song, and the chorus delivers that explosive hit that the song that preceded it on the album lacked. But “Love Game,” despite being more high-energy than “Between Us,” is somehow the less unique track of the two. I find myself returning to the title track for another listen much more often than this one, even with my initial reservations for “Between Us.” Both are decent however, and I am always pleased with the tracks Laboum releases no matter the style, so seeing this slightly new direction for them was something I enjoyed. With both tracks being more mature than some previous releases, it ensured that the general vibe of this single album was cohesive as well.
3. Between Us (Instrumental)
I won’t talk too much about the last track of the three, given that it’s simply an instrumental version of “Between Us.” But I will point out how the lack of vocals here really highlights how well-produced the instrumental is. The somewhat eerie repetitive whistling that features so heavily in the instrumental stands out more here, and I honestly love it. However, I mostly just wanted to include a blurb for this song so I had an excuse to share this picture of Haein. Yes, she is a goddess.