Wednesday, June 5th, 2024

RM – Come Back to Me

Permission to shower?

RM - Come Back to Me

Anna Katrina Lockwood: BTS’ thoughtful leader, RM, is actively rejecting the aggressively populist tropes his group has traded in for the past five years or so. “Come Back To Me” is a pretty nice song! Languidly downtempo, minimally arranged, acoustically instrumented — it’s a trope in and of itself how much this song slots in the playbook of the post-boy group redefinition in progress. OHHYUK’s production is the dominant attribute, which is not a bad thing but perhaps not quite what one would expect from a release from a BTS member. RM’s vocals kind of drift on by indistinctly — so, perhaps less of an active rejection of the boy group tropes than a meditation.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: RM takes the typical café-friendly Korean ballad and makes it “respectable,” bringing on OHHYUK and Sunset Rollercoaster’s frontman. The result is something closer to the former’s music but with a faux-deep seriousness (a common problem with BTS solo projects). The switching between English and Korean is fun, highlighting the differences in mood between both languages, but this is a song whose relaxed mood is too manicured and labored over. RM is in the shadow of the 2017 class of KRNB artists who could do this stuff effortlessly, from Rad Museum to 2xxx to offonoff.

Nortey Dowuona: Apparently Sunset Rollercoaster were in the off-hours playlist. I hope none of my fellow writers who suffered the shocking betrayal of 2022 by Lil Yachty are surprised by this. I was though, so I will close my mouth. Praise Kuo for his fantastic guitar riffs, praise OHHYUK for having the good sense to trust RM to stick to his range so the Melodyning wasn’t v obvious, and condemn Tame Impala for teaching young men my age all over the world the best way to make guitar driven music is to lock it in Logic. 

Michael Hong: RM assembled some of Asian indie’s biggest — here, he’s got Hyukoh’s OHHYUK and Sunset Rollercoaster’s Tseng Kuo-hung — for an album engineered to sound tasteful. The result feels like a room dressed in the soft lighting and refined fixtures meant to look stylish but never lived-in. Beyond the pleasantness, “Come Back to Me” feels like nothing: a cursory outline of feelings sluggishly pulled together into roll credits that work better closing out the album than they do as a lead single. Even in the case of the former, it still sounds uninspired.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: There’s a cafe that I go to in my neighborhood fairly often — I’m not a regular or anything, but I know the different baristas and their tastes. There’s a set that lean towards crowdpleasers: Motown, lite-’80s pop, some of the sunnier elements of the Jason Mraz-wave of the 2000s. Some lean more toward the Boygenius-National-Bon Iver constellation, and then a few more opt for even more anonymous choices: piano covers of pop hits, lo-fi beats to study and relax to. “Come Back to Me” is one of the few songs that could slot into any of their playlists, a pleasingly blank object with just enough heavy-handed marks of artistry that it sounds bespoke.

Ian Mathers: This feels almost aggressively shapeless, and I mean that as a compliment. “I forgot the hour/I don’t want to know about the hour” is pretty much the mood the song both engenders and reflects, and even when it hits a kind of stumbling crescendo, there something appealingly weary and wary about it. It kind of reminds me of Jack Johnson, but for once I don’t mean that as a pejorative.

Katherine St. Asaph: Drifts perilously close (and the verb here truly is “drifts”) toward a set of sounds I normally don’t love: Post Malone, How to Dress Well, Jack Johnson, “The Lazy Song.” RM alternates between barely trying to sing and trying way, way too hard. Yet while I still don’t love this, I like it well enough. He sounds genuinely introspective, maybe that’s why.

Alfred Soto: Maybe I’d prefer it in Korean, but I suspect it would sound like Post Malone or something.

TA Inskeep: So sleepy it feels as if he took some Ambien before recording. I miss the old Rap Monster of “Do You.”

Will Adams: If you’re willing to put up with the first two minutes of post-coital guitar noodling from your worst college hookup, you’ll be rewarded with four minutes of blazed-out relaxation on a blanket on the quad after finals week is over. Your mileage will vary based on how fondly you recall your college years.

Mark Sinker: Every time I had this playing while I worked – concentrating, barely even half listening probably – I was loving it, for the mood and the simplicity and the whistling; for the husky lightness at the edge of my attention. And I like that even when you point your thinking listening mind at it, it’s still not much more than a feather dodging your grasp. It doesn’t firm up or settle or clarify, quite the opposite.  

Jonathan Bradley: At close to a third of the way through these six-and-a-half interminable minutes, RM allows some drums to kick into his dorm room serenade, suggesting he has Anderson .Paak’s stoned beach-soul headiness in mind for “Come Back to Me,” rather than a deliberate attempt to whistle his way into Jack Johnson’s deck chair. “I forgot to shower,” he muses, and I think he’s trying to suggest there’s something filthy about his attempt at funk; he does, after all, pronounce “staying good” as if he hopes listeners might hear “stank good.” Get dressed, dude. Use some deodorant.

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