For better or worse, Sistar have become known as the queens of summer. For the past few years, the primary sound of their title tracks has been bright, breezy and entirely indebted to a connection with the season of beaches and tank tops. I’ve seen a fair amount of criticism leveled at the girls because of this, expressing frustration that they seem to be stuck in a musical rut. But I think it all depends on personal preference. My favorite Sistar songs have overwhelmingly been the “summer” ones, so this particular rut is fine by me!
Regardless, I Like That switches things up a bit. No, the girls haven’t suddenly gone dark goth on us, but they’ve tempered the summery influences with a slightly edgier sound. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean that they skimped on the hooks. I Like That is a veritable cauldron of catchy refrains, some more successful that others. Instrumentally, much of the track is built on a repeated brass (horn? saxophone?) hook, though it never overtakes the song or provides its central drive. This is important in giving I Like That a distinct identity amidst the “brass sample” trend that groups like AOA have definitely overplayed this year. There’s also a deliciously bonkers bit of vocal distortion that sounds like a record being skipped in rapid time. It rears its head a few times and does a fantastic job of interrupting the flow just enough to give the track the dynamism it needs.
The melody isn’t quite as successful, but works well in its own right. The glossy, propulsive chorus is pure pop magic, taking the best of the 80’s Sweetune sound and Sistar-ing it into something unique. The verses are less inspired, but get by on the strength of the beat and production flourishes. As a song, it doesn’t feel as full-throttle flawless as Loving U or even Shake It, but it deftly pulls off the tricky balancing act of melding the old with the new.