“24K+” is the weirdest rebrand. It’s an offshoot of boy group 24K, who debuted all the way back in 2012. Yet, no original member remains and their new style/concept is markedly different from what 24K had been doing most of their career. I’d understand the slight tweaking of the name if the entity “24K” had any cachet in the current K-pop market, but it feels more like a liability than an accessible brand extension.
Luckily, the sonic overhaul of Roller Coaster (롤러코스터) is right up my alley. I could do without the cutesiness, but that often goes hand in hand with hyper-melodic tracks in K-pop. It’s just part of the package deal. I’s also be fine without the excessive filtering on the vocals. It sounds like they’re singing into a karaoke microphone with the “echo” feature turned all the way up. But those quibbles aside, I’ve very charmed by the light buoyancy of this track.
Roller Coaster reminds me of early Boyfriend, or maybe the male version of Lovelyz. Its bounding instrumental is highlighted by these plonky, xylophone-esque synths that craft a cool, addictive texture. But the real star of the show is pop melody, which acts as a continuous pinwheel throughout the track. The chorus has a satisfying surge, delivering natural moments of climax without interrupting the song’s dreamy flow. Everything feels a bit rough around the edges, but even that quality adds to the nostalgia. About a decade ago (around the time of 24K’s original formation, actually…), it was easy to find music like this peddled by smaller groups hoping to get their name out there. As we near the end of 2023, I can’t help but feel a song like Roller Coaster comes at a premium. This scarcity makes it all the more sweet.