Destiny’s Child is back with a brand new track, “Nuclear,” and there’s much to like about the dizzying ’90s sprawl of the tune — but unlike Justin Timberlake‘s big comeback, which should have been loudly proclaimed his return to the charts, Destiny’s song is a bonus for fans added onto a possibly-superfluous Love Songs compilation — so maybe the standards aren’t quite as high.
Either way, the critics liked the sonic throwback, even if it left them wanting more, with most highlighting the exceptional harmonies and sultry vibe. Read their thoughts after the jump.
:: Stereogum was underwhelmed by the track’s soft landing: “For all the hoopla surrounding the song, it’s an oddly low-impact piece of music, a breezy and soft pledge of devotion over a rattling breakbeat that reminds me of Soul II Soul. Given how huge this song is seemingly predestined to be, you’d think someone could’ve workshopped that hook a little bit longer.”
:: Entertainment Weekly was also surprised at the track’s snoozy vibe: “Not gonna lie: This is a little sleepier than we expected, especially compared to such past barn burners as ‘Independent Women Part 1′ and ‘Bootylicious.’ Still, these ladies still know how to harmonize, and for fans of mid-period Janet Jackson (think The Velvet Rope), this will them in their sweet spots.”
:: The Los Angeles Times echoed that sentiment, suggesting that the tune is well-suited for R&B fans but not so much for radio: “However, fans hoping for a swelling, fiery comeback that would rival sassy radio anthems such as ‘Bootylicious,’ ‘Independent Woman Pt. I,’ or ‘Lose My Breath’ might be a bit disappointed with the Pharrell Williams-produced cut, which is a more low-key offering. Co-written by Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams with James Fauntleroy and Lonny Bereal, the track offers a throwback to those ‘90s R&B grooves that will satisfy purists of the genre – especially those missing the honey-dipped harmonies the trio perfected.”
:: MuuMuse felt that the track’s sound aligned with current trends in the soul-pop space: “Considering the slow resurgence of nu-soul in pop at the moment (Jessie Ware, Solange), it seems only too fitting for Destiny’s Child to slowly slide back into the scene with something sensuous and lush, as opposed to a full-on R&B-electro infused club banger. (We can safely assume Beyoncé’s upcoming record will provide plenty of that, anyway.)”
:: Even if it’s no radio single, Spin still felt that the song maintained Destiny’s Child’s legendary record: “For their part, the girls deliver on their legacy, eschewing Bey’s future-leaning pop’speriments and Kelly Rowland’s rap-happy collabo-isms for some vintage pre-millennial R&B: smooth group vocals, angelic ahs, lines that reference sexual chemistry (and quantum mechanics) while remaining quite tasteful.”
:: Slant Magazine praised the song’s lush production and dense harmonies: “And yet, these girls have rarely sounded quite as relaxed as they do leaning long and hard on the last syllables of words, nor have they been as willing to luxuriate in dynamics well south of fortissimo. Trading lines with the sort of gratitude one expects from such a high-profile reunion, Beyoncé, Kelly, and Michelle manage to convey more love for each other than any of the subjects the rest of the album’s track list ever received.