In a disappointing month for K-pop comebacks, I’ve cast poor Seventeen as my Great Shining Hope of October. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one song, but Rock With You seemed to promise many of the elements I’ve been craving: big, bounding energy + a hooky structure (with rock guitar thrown in for good measure). And, the track is all of those things – to a degree.

Since pairing with HYBE, it seems like the musical ambition of Seventeen’s title tracks has flattened. It’s hard to know if there’s a correlation, or if the guys are simply taking victory laps and making fun, upbeat songs that bring them joy. Either way, this pattern feels both liberating and frustrating. There’s nothing wrong with a simple, catchy pop song. I’ll never get enough of them! But, we all know Seventeen can be so much more than that.

Refreshingly, Rock With You never makes room for unnecessary detours. It’s a straight-ahead pop track, wasting no time unveiling its first verse before rocketing toward a satisfying pre-chorus. Seventeen give a restrained performance, replacing power with efficiency. This gives the song a sleek tautness, yet also makes it feel a little slight. I can’t argue with the punchy chorus or sentimental melodies, but they’re often more pleasantly toe-tapping than galvanizing. For a song called “Rock With You,” the guys could’ve rocked harder. Turn up the guitars. Let that bass rip. Drop the polish and careen through the track like a rockstar. This is the kind of song that should be roughed up around the edges.

With that said, Rock With You is still incredibly solid. It may even be my favorite comeback in a lousy month. Seventeen always sell their sentiment, and S.Coups’ subdued bridge is a wonderful standout. But 2021’s absolute best comebacks have pushed beyond “solid” and delivered daring surprises. Rock With You is sanitized fun, produced and performed with utter confidence. With those expectations, it’ll have no problem finding a steady spot on my playlist.

Hooks 8
Production 9
Longevity 9
Bias 9
RATING 8.75

Beatsway

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Publisher: Nick