It's hard to describe the NCT 127 sound in words, but you know it when you hear it. The bass is dirty and booming, yet the vocals go down smooth. It's all about building tension; frenzied beats and samples that don't quite fit — until they do. That is the sweet release that every Neo track is chasing. And the K-pop group's latest single "Sticker" is no exception, except it kind of is. For a group that loves to build layered sonic structures, the production here is minimal, subdued even, and that creates a strange vacuum where every warped note becomes magnified. It's a weird little song, and NCT 127 couldn't be more proud of it.
"The moment we heard the signature flute sound, we realized this is for us," leader Taeyong told press just hours before the release of the group's third studio album Sticker. The flute instrumental is disorienting, even by NCT standards, but Taeyong and fellow rapper Mark put their own Neo spin on the track while working with veteran SM producer Yoo Youngjin. "Taeyong and I discussed how we wanted to show the team's color," Mark said. "I do feel like the fans will really like it."
The thing about NCT 127 is that they, too, have a hard time describing their sound. There, sitting on stage in their perfectly tailored suits, the nine members — Taeyong, Taeil, Johnny, Doyoung, Yuta, Jaehyun, Jungwoo, Mark, and Haechan — can't quite pin down what makes NCT 127 so unique. Instead, they'd rather let the music speak for itself.
They previewed four songs from the album, each showcasing a different side of 127. "Lemonade" is classic NCT, teeming with swagger; "같은 시선 (Focus)" is atmospheric R&B; "Bring the Noize" is powerful, giving off that gritty "Neo vibe," according to Taeyong; and "Promise You," a favorite among the members, is a synth-pop love letter to their fans, known as NCTzens (or, endearingly referred to as Czennies).
"We've spent a lot of time preparing [this album] for our NCTzens," youngest member Haechan said. "It's been a while since we made a comeback," vocalist Doyoung added. It's been over a year since the release of their last studio album Neo Zone, and while the members participated in NCT's Resonance project in late 2020, coming back together as NCT 127 just hits different.