Four months after their lukewarm debut single, WayV NCT‘s 7-membered Chinese subunit, has returned with their first EP: the aptly-titled Take Off.
I went into Take Off not knowing what to expect. Each of NCT’s sub-units have an established sound save for WayV. NCT-U release smooth, slow R&B songs, NCT-127 speed it up with hip-hop-infused bangers, and NCT-Dream deliver sweet, soft pop songs. I was unsure whether WayV would combine all these elements to create a sound purely their own or just sing Mandarin versions of their Korean counterparts’ songs à la their debut song, “Regular.”
Take Off comprises of 6 tracks — 3 of which were previously included in WayV’s debut single, The Vision — that tells an inverse story of a hopeful WayV (“Dream Lunch”) falling in love (“Let Me Love U”) and then out of it. They ask their lover to “Come Back” before trying to forget them (“Say It”), regaining their confidence (“Regular”) and being ready to “Take Off” solo.
Take Off begins with its eponymous title track, “Take Off,” a fast-paced dance track with a electro-pop instrumental that comprises of WayV looking forward to spreading their metaphorical wings and fulfilling their high ambitions.
You have ambition that can resist gravity
You exist as the exception
So baby face towards the outside sky
Take off yeah
“Take Off” features a heavy metal interlude before the bridge, which should sound out of place but fits in surprisingly well. The unexpected instrumental adds depth to a song that for the most part adheres to the formula of SM songs: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge ending in high note, chorus.
“Take Off” segues into “Regular,” the Mandarin version of NCT 127’s Latin-tinged song released last year in both Korean and English that marked WayV’s debut in January. This recycling is understanding, if a little disappointing, as “Regular” is a banger and It seems as though SM wanted to give WayV a song they knew would do well in China’s competitive music market.
In the name of playing it safe WayV’s version does not depart dramatically from NCT 127’s. WayV’s “Regular” is an self-confidence anthem with WayV bragging about breaking rules and working hard to achieve their dreams — consistent with the similarly confident tone of “Take Off.”
The next track, “Say It,” begins with Xiaojun, Kun, and Ten’s smooth voices lamenting their imperfect love over a piano instrumental.
Slow motion plot of sweet lies
Stubborn love isn’t perfect no more
Drifting through your world
Chasing your line of sight
Lost on the other side of the forest of lies
Just when they have convinced the listener that “Say It” is a ballad, however, the song builds up to an EDM-backed chorus. The smoothness with which this transition comes about, as well as the vivid imagery in its lyrics, and the catchy “oh na na na” refrain interspersed throughout the song easily makes it the best song on the EP.
The theme of sad lyrics superimposed over catchy beats continues in the next track, “Come Back,” a Mandarin rendition of a song that originally appeared on NCT 127’s Japanese EP, Chain. WayV begs their lover to come back over energetic, electro-pop beats.
WayV slows it down, kind of, for “Let Me Love U.” “Let Me Love U” is a breezy, guitar-backed pop song that details WayV falling in love and asking their object of affections to accept them. The song is simple and straightforward and shines a light on WayV’s vocal line; I have no complaints.
The EP comes to a close with the R&B, piano-backed song “Dream Launch,” a song that also closed WayV’s debut single. It is a chill, feel-good song about WayV flying higher to achieve their dreams — a good parallel to the similar imagery in “Take Off.”
WayV delivers a strong, sonically pleasing EP in Take Off. Though I would have liked more original — and newer — songs to get a better sense of WayV’s sound, I am happy with the harmony WayV have achieved in this EP. At no point are any members unsure of themselves or outshine each other, and this is only WayV’s first EP.
It is hard not to be proud of what WayV have accomplished in Take Off. I look forward to seeing the heights they reach next.