Despite being in the K-Pop scene for 1 year and 10 months, it seems like DSP Media’s girl group APRIL is still in full rookie mode. Because of the multiple member changes in the group since their debut, it’s been a challenge for them to stick to a solid line-up; that is, before Chaekyung and Rachel joined in late 2016. Back in November 2015, the group's former leader Somin left the group and went back to training with the company. The year after, they lost member Hyunjoo who then decided to focus on acting. It turned out for the better, as the two girls found their own space to shine in. Somin is now a member of DSP's popular co-ed group K.A.R.D, and Hyunjoo has been acting in web dramas, allowing her to shine on the path she dreamed of.
Despite not being the most popular girl group in K-pop today due to the line-up instability, APRIL is now pretty much complete with six very well-rounded members. Chaewon, Jinsol, and Chaekyung are excellent vocalists, and Naeun is pretty much near the same level as they are in terms of vocal skill. While Yena and Rachel may not be at par, they make up for it through their impressive dancing skills. All the girls have amazing visuals. Naeun in particular has one of the best visuals you can see in a girl group today. The group also proved their variety skills in a lot of their broadcast appearances and showed the public their passion to make it in A-IF-RIL, their variety show that aired on Mnet.
While I have been a follower from the start, it wasn't until they released “Jelly,” an amazing b-side from their mini-album Spring, that my true interest in the group began. I was ecstatic when Chaekyung, one of my Produce 101 favorites, joined the group, but the group totally had me when their third mini-album Prelude was released in January of this year. “April Story” showed how well the girls could pull off a more sophisticated concept and sound, and the production of the song and video was just too good to resist. Given how impressive the production was, it should come to no surprise that “April Story” became the group's most successful single, and Prelude became their best selling physical release so far. Hoping for the same result, the girls traded their white dresses for retro, colorful ones, and switched from a sophisticated sound to a poppier, straightforward tone with “MAYDAY.”
Written and produced by Princess Disease’s Chowool, the same producer that worked on gugudan’s “A Girl Like Me”, “MAYDAY” is a fast-paced dance track which features a brighter sound compared to their previous singles. It is the second single they released with the current and most popular lineup, and it boasts an improved line distribution system. Rachel and Yena were given more lines compared to their last release, and it is a major step up, as the two were given little to no lines at all in “April Story.”
That being said, the track and concept still falls a bit short in comparison to their previous single. “MAYDAY” is really good, and it is actually a really catchy track you’d enjoy from time to time. But truth is, “April Story” is going to be very hard to beat, as it was a song that worked perfectly for the girls. With them trying out a lot of colorful concepts from time to time, it could come as no surprise that their agency may think that it suits them a lot. However, APRIL might suit the more mature, sophisticated ballerina concept. I totally get that they wanted to switch things up, and that itself is a good move to help the group see what truly works for them. “MAYDAY” isn’t bad at all. It was just a risky track to release, especially after how good its predecessor was.
The single that they released contained 2 b-sides: “Lovesick” and “Yes Sir.” “Lovesick” is my personal favorite of the three, as it is a catchy tune with a new jack swing-influenced beat, which e.one productions have most of the time. It was first revealed to the public through a surprise music video that aired on the first episode of their Mnet reality show and was first thought of by the fans as their comeback track. I personally have a hunch that DSP tested the waters through this release to see if people would love the song, possibly making it the girls’ main comeback song. It received a few negatives, with people saying that it was a bit too similar to their previous single, which is why I think DSP chose to release a single with fewer similarities to their last one. The second b-side, “Yes Sir,” is also a nice addition to the album. The most retro-sounding track of the three, it is like a faster-paced version of LABOUM’s “Aalow Aalow,” which isn’t surprising considering the two songs were produced by Urban Jeonsung.
All in all, “MAYDAY” is a good release. It had everything that works for the group—the song, choreography, and styling. It would have been appreciated more if it was released prior to the Prelude era, but I still think it was a strong effort that shouldn’t have been slept on. I do wish they would work with e.one once again for their next title track, as their combinations stand out from the group’s entire discography.