NCT Dream: K-Pop Stars on ‘Hot Sauce,’ New Album ‘Glitch Mode’

To grasp the enchantment of NCT Dream, Okay-pop’s beloved younger powerhouse, you first should let go of any lingering notion that you’re cool. Cool is trying as snug in pastel knits and denim on Zoom as you might be in neon inexperienced fuzzy jackets and face gems on stage; it’s guffawing at a joke with full abandon in a single second and earnestly sharing an introspective commentary the following; it’s smashing your personal information with each launch; it’s making music that seems like the long run. 

This doesn’t imply that the septet don’t work at it — the truth is, members Mark, Renjun, Jeno, Haechan, Jaemin, Chenle, and Jisung made certain {that a} main objective for his or her second full-length, Glitch Mode, can be to push one another (and themselves) to be even higher and extra artistic than they ever had earlier than. “All of us had a gathering collectively and had been speaking about how all of us shared the identical mindset,” NCT Dream’s charismatic chief Mark says over video name from Seoul. “We’re all the time ensuring we’re on the identical web page once we prepare for a comeback.” The strain was definitely on — launched simply final 12 months, their debut album Scorching Sauce, made historical past as their behemoth of a label’s best-selling launch ever, in addition to one of many highest-selling Okay-pop albums of 2021. 

NCT Dream, affectionately dubbed “the Dreamies” by their followers, leaned on their boyish charms in previous releases — from their saccharine 2016 debut single “Chewing Gum” (wherein they dance on precise hoverboards) to 2021 hippie fever dream “Hi there Future.” However Glitch Mode would mark the newly minted over-twenties’ foray into maturity. “We knew we needed to improve our sport so our followers could possibly be additional excited – as excited as we had been as effectively, so we had that accountability,” Mark says. “We needed to indicate the individuals we developed and grew, and that was the give attention to each angle of the album.

Not everybody entered the world so boldly. Youngest member and lithe dancer Jisung, who debuted with the group when he was solely 14, admitted in that kick-off assembly that he felt extra nervous than excited. “I felt strain at first, however I remembered I used to be not working alone,” he says in Korean, eyes peering by way of silvery white hair. “I noticed that teamwork is essential, and through that course of I realized that if we work onerous and check out our greatest we’ll haven’t any regrets.”

It’s the primary time the group has actually felt like a strong, unbreakable unit. NCT Dream was fashioned because the teenaged subunit of SM’s formidable NCT collective, with the intention that members would “graduate” from the group after they turned 20, to get replaced with youthful members to maintain the unit’s fresh-faced enchantment. However when Mark aged out of Dream in 2018, the collective chagrin of the Dreamies and followers alike drove the label to scrap their plan. Dream’s debut full-length noticed the unique seven lastly reunited, and that’s how they’ll keep. And now they’ve a full unit to lean on whereas they stroll into the unexpected territory of mapping a younger grownup NCT Dream.

Maturity additionally means leaning into particular person strengths and self-discovery. For vocalist Haechan, this was of explicit significance. “I believe it’s essential to indicate every of the members’ talents and their personalities,” he says. “We’re optimistic the followers already felt that we seven members labored effectively collectively in our first album. Within the second album, we needed to indicate that every member has their very own capacity for vocals, rap, and efficiency they usually’ve developed.”

That ethos introduced Glitch Mode, an album that feels in some ways like a step into a brand new dimension. It spans retro hip-hop and brassy disco to silky R&B, and revels in its brash, in-your-face moments as a lot as its softer contemplations. There are just a few moments the place the fellows can hear the form of palpable development they got down to harness. Mark instantly factors to the quirky “Saturday Drip,” made by the group’s 4 rappers. “Jeno has an adlib that I used to be actually in love with, and I felt like I’d by no means heard an adlib that got here from him like that earlier than,” he says to his bandmate, the latter turning almost as pink as his hair. “I complimented him on that and was like, Preserve this up!” I instructed Jaemin how a lot I favored how he began off his verse as effectively.”

Haechan gave props to his fellow vocalists Chenle and Renjun for stretching their ranges. “We confirmed extra excessive notes whereas singing and had been capable of pull that off very effectively,” he says, smiling. “And other than us, completely different members who’re normally rapping or targeted on efficiency additionally participated within the vocals as effectively.” Chenle agrees: “Jeno’s vocals in ‘미니카 (Drive)’ is admittedly nice, and once I heard it, I used to be capable of see how a lot his singing had developed.”

The title observe is a music about “glitching” in entrance of a crush, but it surely’s a far cry from the varieties of affection songs crooned by boy bands of yore. It’s elasticized hip-hop laced with each punchy raps and ethereal vocal strains — and simply when it appears you’ve gotten a maintain of it, the music swerves right into a monstrous rock guitar interlude.

NCT Dream may’ve simply dropped a crystalline earworm. Nevertheless it looks like the extra success they encounter, the extra they experiment and subvert expectations. “Scorching Sauce” makes a shout refrain work over a cascading Spanish-mumbling of a pattern; “Glitch Mode” is a face-melting rock live performance wedged between two 808s with a aspect of pc chips.  “I really feel pleased with every album that we launched,” Jaemin says. “We’re occurring our personal path and making it up as we go,” says Renjun, a contented smile lighting up his face. “I really feel like if we observe the mainstream tracks, NCT Dream may lose the trail that we’re making an attempt to stroll on, we needed to indicate that we may shine with our personal music style. And for the reason that developments all the time change, the songs that we do now could possibly be mainstream sooner or later.” 

To this point, Glitch Mode has damaged each Scorching Sauce’s pre-order and first-week gross sales file — the music video for the title observe already has almost 40 million views. That is clearly a path that listeners and followers are enthusiastic about. However whilst they enterprise additional into their coming of age, that doesn’t imply they’ve left their youth behind. “Once we’re collectively, that’s how we get in contact with that younger aspect of ourselves,” Jeno says. Once we’re hanging out all collectively, making an album as seven members,” he breaks into fun as he seems round sheepishly, “we’re not really as mature as we’d come off.

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