Dreamcatcher Turns Their Odd Eye Towards Late January 2021 Comeback

K-Pop — Dreamcatcher Recall

With a week full of comeback teasers, Dreamcatcher gears up their fans for another exciting promotion cycle in late January 2021.

Yoohyeon front and center for one of the choruses for “Odd Eye”. YouTube credit: Dreamcatcher official

Normally when writing the Dreamcatcher Recall every week, I’ve had to prepare well in advance, saving links and content, digging up Dreamcatcher bits to summarize for this very busy girl group. While Insomnia is no doubt one of the most well-fed fandoms as far as their group’s content is concerned, there’s still a certain amount of effort spent on finding what to write about from week to week.

Not so during comeback periods. The content, not surprisingly, is very easy to find, very frequent, and no doubt dominates the news cycle for K-Pop groups when they are preparing for another eventful, yet certainly tiring, promotion period of two to four weeks. Dreamcatcher is no exception here, and with a week full of teaser content that gave fans little peeks of what their upcoming 6th mini-album is going to bring them, that’s mostly what I’ll be talking about this week.

Since some of you have given me feedback that I should be providing more of my thoughts interspersed with the reporting, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing here. So without further ado, follow me on this past week’s journey to find out more about Dreamcatcher’s “Road to Utopia” release and what I thought as we learned what’s in store when the album drops on 1/26/21.

Track List for Dreamcatcher’s “Road to Utopia”. Instagram credit: hf_dreamcatcher

“Dystopia: Road to Utopia” Track List — 01/18/21

Kicking off the week was the Road to Utopia Track List reveal, a first peek at what the album had in store for us. Dreamcatcher is bringing us seven tracks this time, a slightly-bigger-than-normal album with four B-side tracks rather than three, with of course the now-obligatory Intro, Title Track, and Instrumental.

While it may be a total coincidence, the fact that this album has seven tracks, marking Handong’s return to the group at full strength, wasn’t lost on me. Was it a little nod to an OT7 Dreamcatcher reunion, perhaps? The fact that Dreamcatcher’s recent online concert was named “Seven Spirits” seems to lend itself to this theory, but either way, we get more music and that’s a good thing.

Siyeon talks about her “Odd Eye” character during “R.o.S.E Blue” filming. Youtube credit: Dreamcatcher official

Obviously what drew my attention was the title track name, “Odd Eye”. Not only did that blow my tidy little Iris Greek mythology theory out the window, but it also explained the different-colored eye teaser from a week prior. Maybe I should have seen that coming over a fancier name like “Iris” or “Iridum”, given that both Siyeon (during a Dreamcatcher Vlog for “R.o.S.E Blue”) and Dami (during a Dreamcatcher Note about their first fanclub meeting) referred to different-colored eyes as “Odd Eye”, but either way this was an interesting name that I think very few fans predicted.

Other than this, it was pretty hard for me to formulate opinions on the other tracks at first, though you could glean a few details from the credits. JiU appeared to lend her composition and lyric skills to “4 Memory”, so my first thought was a softer song much like her previous effort for Dystopia: Lose Myself with “Dear”. Meanwhile, Siyeon, Dami, and Yoohyeon all contributed in some way to other tracks, which is great — it just showed to me the continued trust the company placed in valuing input from the group, as well as allowing them to spread their wings a bit song-wise.

When the tracklist descriptions, appearing on the yes24 storefront and translated by 7 Dreamers appeared, we got a better sense of what we might be getting. “4 Memory” would be future pop. “New Days” would sound more like Dreamcatcher’s signature rock/pop core. “Wind Blows” carried the cyberpunk and rock sound that was expected based on the teasers. And “Odd Eye” would make an attempt to blend Nu Metal, Rock, and Hip-Hop rhythms — something I immediately perked up about.

This was because an old favorite band of mine fits all of those descriptions. Linkin’ Park was perhaps one of the most iconic Nu Metal bands of the early 2000’s that seamlessly blended hip-hop and rap into classics such as “In The End”, “Numb”, and (with the equally talented Jay-Z), “Numb/Encore”. When you combine this with the fact that Linkin’ Park, unlike their aggressively angry counterparts in the same sphere, sang about such mental struggles such as anxiety, depression, and the search for happiness and identity in a sometimes unkind world, this seemed right up Dreamcatcher’s Dystopian-style alley.

“Odd Eye” Lyrics Spoiler— 01/19/21

So when the Lyrics Spoiler for “Odd Eye” dropped on the 19th, fans were somewhat prepared for what might come out of it. Traditionally, lyrics spoilers from Dreamcatcher have revealed part of the title song’s tune by providing one little snippet of a backing track, one layer over which the overall song would rest. And just as the BOCA” lyrics spoiler provided its reserved, moombahton-inspired backing track as the foundation to tease fans, “Odd Eye” came in aggressively, delivering a guitar-filled, heavy metal-ish rock background with a slower, more deliberate hip-hop beat set against a traveling neon future cityscape, reminiscent of many cyberpunk-type films and media in recent and distant memory.

Sure, fans later found out the video came from stock footage (a common way for companies to save a little time and cash on video) but nobody really cared. Just about everyone, myself included, got pretty excited about what was to come. Lots of Dreamcatcher fans have appreciated some of the genre-mixing that wasn’t quite as related to rock that typified the “Dystopia” series in “Scream” and “BOCA”, but this, at least as far as background tracks go, seemed to be a closer return to Dreamcatcher’s rock early form, something signaled in 2020 Japanese releases “Endless Night” and “NO MORE”.

“Odd Eye” MV Teaser #01 — 01/20/21

With some of the audio teases out of the way, it was time to drop in a visual preview of what the music video was going to be like. The description of the album, translated by 7 Dreamers, seemed to lend itself towards a finale to the Dystopia series music videos that typified not being fooled by outer happiness that was a facade, despite the “Utopia” label.

Dreamcatcher’s MV teasers have never been one for tipping their hands for details, and “Odd Eye” was no exception. We were treated to a variety of somewhat eerie images throughout the 15-second peek we were given:

Gahyeon strikes an odd-eyed, still gaze as the world glitches around her.
  • Yoohyeon asleep in an isolated room, sitting in what seemed to be a mask-shaped chair not unlike the recurring masks we’ve seen in “Scream” and “BOCA” that I believe symbolize the faceless masses delivering hatred and evil towards Dreamcatcher’s witch-hunted spirit characters.
  • A glass of unidentified red liquid and a square radio in that same room, of unknown origin or purpose, of which the latter Yoohyeon might be reaching out to touch (c’mon Yoohyeon, you know what happened the last time you messed with something that seemed cursed, right?)
  • Handong walking inexorably towards the camera dressed in white in front of a gate, and JiU turning behind her to stare at us from that same gate (to Utopia, perhaps?)
  • Gahyeon frozen in place, stickers dotting her face as the world seems to glitch around her in some kind of strange, Black Mirror-like alternate reality.
  • Siyeon, leaning back in a chair in a room with wires in it.
  • Dami, staring out in concern from what appears to be a train at an unidentified, dark landscape.
  • SuA, holding a lamp serving as the only light in a fur-covered room, unidentified letters scrawled down her eyes as if weeping the words.
  • The video ending with Yoohyeon waking, her different-colored eyes staring out from the darkness.
A stone-faced Handong walks inevitably and slowly towards the camera, framed by a door of light.

None of this seemed particularly happy in any way, obviously, and I was left with a sense of mystery but also dread. What had happened since Dreamcatcher’s characters tried to purify the corrupted Tree of Language in “BOCA”? Had they been captured, made to experience a false Utopia meant to incapacitate them? How did Handong, absent from the story til now, fit into this? What future was Dreamcatcher trying to preserve, protect, or at minimum, survive? Nothing will likely be answered before radio interviews and the full music video drop, but all of this seemed so very sinister, but also intriguing from a story and world-building perspective.

“Dystopia: Road to Utopia” Highlight Medley — 01/21/21

After filling Insomnia minds with all that Dystopian, cyberpunk-ish imagery, Thursday’s update brought with it the highly-anticipated Highlight Medley — our first bit of an audio preview of what the album would sound like, set against footage of the photo shoots taken for the individual and group teasers from last week. Arguably, Highlight Medleys are the biggest hype-builders of any K-Pop album release. Sure, the visuals and the descriptions are one thing, but the sound, music, and audio styling is why many K-Pop fans, despite the obvious language barrier, are into the media.

Ever since they started doing them, Dreamcatcher’s never really failed to deliver that excitement to fans about upcoming new music, and there was predictably a ton of gushing about what “Dystopia: Road to Utopia” would bring on the 26th. Here are some of my first impressions of each track:

Dreamcatcher poses for a group shot in suits labeled as “The End”.
  • Intro — Though only instrumental, Intros from Dreamcatcher have typically set the stage for the title track and the mood of the album in general. “Road to Utopia” paves the way with a quiet build-up of percussion that yields to a head-banging, guitar-rocking set of riffs that have typified most cyberpunk-ish audio backgrounds. There’s sometimes a pivot into another genre in these, and we didn’t hear it in this preview, but I’m looking forward to it if it does occur.
  • Odd Eye — We got a full vocal chorus here — I expected it to cut out after the first refrain of it, but we were treated to the whole thing leading up to JiU’s loud declaration of “No More Utopia”, which was wonderful. This was definitely slower (as hip-hop rhythm songs tend to be) than Dreamcatcher’s more recent work title-track wise, but no less powerful. I’ll use some nerdy fantasy/MMO imagery here — chorus-wise, if “Scream” is the fast-moving and even faster-stabbing Rogue, and “BOCA” is the staff-sweeping, elementally destructive Mage, then “Odd Eye” is the hard-charging, two-handed weapon-wielding Warrior, bashing overhead in slow, inexorable, powerful blows. It’s early, but this may be Dreamcatcher’s most imposing and aggressive title track of its Korean discography yet — and that’s a good thing because you need to stand out in K-Pop.
Dami, Handong, and Siyeon dressed in style with vests, shirts, and wide-brimmed hats.
  • Wind Blows — This sounded interesting to me — the pacing seemed a little irregular (not in a bad way, just different) for a song where I expected “cyberpunk rock” to be the genre of choice, and I didn't get a good idea of what kind of instrumental vibe we were going to get due to the focus on the vocals, but color me curious — especially with the last portion of this including a Dami rap that faded away just as I was getting into it.
  • Poison Love — I’m a sucker for fast dance beats and a darker groove to those, and Poison Love, which the tracklist never really described too well, seemed like a heavier EDM like track reminiscent of one of those songs that would be playing over the club in a futuristic, cyberpunk setting. Give me more of this — it’s pretty clear that 2020 proved Dreamcatcher could blend EDM with their rock, and this seemed to be the track for that.
JiU, Yoohyeon, Gahyeon, and Handong pose for the “Utopia” style group images.
  • 4 Memory — I expected a lighter track from the likes of JiU just to break up some of the heavier stuff on this album, and that’s what “4 Memory” certainly did when it first came in. What I wasn’t expecting was for it not to be a ballad- that it would be a peppy, energetic song with its last portion being very much like a pop tune that lifts you up and wants you to dance with it. In retrospect, since JiU referred to wanting to try something like a city pop song per the “Dreamcatcher and Me” series, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, but I’m looking forward to what we get here as an interlude between Dreamcatcher’s harder stuff.
  • New Days — Now here is a throwback to Dreamcatcher’s early days — a pure rock/pop track that served as a way to highlight Dreamcatcher’s high-energy singing and dancing. I’m reminded specifically of songs that had the fans involved in some way, like “Mayday” (sung with Dreamcatcher fan musicians in a Special Clip), and fan-dedicated songs “Full Moon” and “Over The Sky”. In fact, if you told me that “New Days” was the 2021 Dreamcatcher fan song, I probably wouldn’t have blinked an eye. That said, while I thought this was a throwback, there’s also a feeling that this was a maturing of their rock/pop sound, too, like picking up a hobby you haven’t done in a while and getting used to doing it again. It’s songs like this that had fans clamoring for them to do anime OPs, which they’ve recently just achieved with the King’s Raid Anime OP “Eclipse”.
  • Odd Eye (Inst.) — The end of the album, and the usual instrumental for the title song. No big surprises here, as this was almost exactly what we heard for the Lyrics spoiler, but this did serve as a nice bookend to the Highlight Medley, and the album as a whole. No doubt we’re going to see plenty of remixes and mashups using an aggressive set of instrumentals like for “Odd Eye”.

Overall, like many Dreamcatcher fans, I was left wanting more — and of course, playing the Highlight Medley over and over again listening for new things, and grooving to the snippets we were getting. Many fans followed my example — in fact, the “Dystopia: Road to Utopia” Highlight Medley, according to /u/GI0VANNI_512 on the Dreamcatcher subreddit, surpassed the “Dystopia: Lose Myself” Highlight Medley view count in only a couple of days. If that isn’t any indication as to how much excitement was generated from these clips, then nothing is.

“Odd Eye” Dance Preview — 01/22/21

Ok, well maybe there is just one more indicator.

Dance Previews, even for how short they are, are big hype generators for a K-Pop group pre-comeback, as they give you a brief idea of how the choreography is going to look for a promoted title track. Since synced and coordinated choreography is a trademark of any K-Pop group, seeing what the dance might look like on music show live stages for a group is one of the best parts of looking forward to a comeback. And with Dreamcatcher’s non-traditional concept, that means that excitement is increased by order of magnitudes.

SuA moving to the front, daring anyone to mess with her during the “Odd Eye” Dance Preview.

So how was the choreography for a hip-hop/rock/nu metal title track going to go for Dreamcatcher? The answer was always going to be “just as in-your-face and aggressive as the title track itself was going to be”. From the beginning with a coordinated spin move to Yoohyeon showcasing an “Odd Eye” title track gesture to SuA taking front and center leading the entire group, backup dancers and all, into a kick, to a last pose that was filled with hair-flipping swagger for Dreamcatcher’s main dancer, this was foot to the gas pedal from start to finish.

It helps that this is likely the last chorus sequence, much like what was done with the “Scream” dance preview (with much better lighting), meaning that there’s ample motivation here to go absolutely hard all the way to an ending we haven’t seen yet. Even though this was a mere 19 seconds, that definitely didn’t stop fans from smashing that play button over and over again looking for more cool things to pick out, like Gahyeon apparently leading into this sequence, a much more confident, assertive Handong aggressively moving through the choreography, and the now-standard swag of the backup dancers, led by newly raven-haired Performance Director Hwang Sooyeon and wearing cyberpunk-style goggles. There was a lot to appreciate from this short clip, and it’s pretty clear we’re in for a big, explosive live stage once we see the full choreography in action.

Yoohyeon roasted as the queen of spoilers on the Weekly Idol surprise vlive. vLive credit: ALL THE K-POP

But wait, there’s more!

Even with all the content we got delivered on official channels this week, there was more to get excited about on the Dreamcatcher front.

With a mere couple of days left till we’re in comeback territory for Dreamcatcher, the hype and excitement continue to build. I’ll be back here next week to report on the first week of comeback news as well as all the album impressions I’ve got for Dreamcatcher’s finale in the “Dystopia” storyline. See you then!