Cube Entertainment hasn’t had a stellar year. In the course of several months, they’ve lost their biggest girl group, 4minute, and one-sixth of their biggest boy group, Beast (whether the other members re-sign their expiring contracts remains to be seen). Given this, there’s a lot riding on Pentagon’s debut. The agency seems to have invested quite a bit in the guys, but does Gorilla live up to the hype?
Surprisingly, it does — and that’s in spite of the fact that it indulges in some of k-pop’s most tired 2016 clichés. The song is only the latest to forgo an actual chorus in favor of a one-line repetition, and this is by far the track’s most underwhelming element. The problem is, this sort of English-language catchphrase only works if it sounds cool. Despite being solid songs, NCT’s “fire truck” was an awkward refrain, as was GOT7’s “hard carry.” “Like a gorilla” is just as bad, conjuring overly ridiculous images that feel more laughable than cool. It doesn’t flow particularly well, either. Luckily, this is the song’s only big misstep.
The beat itself makes up for those lyrics, offering a far funkier instrumental than expected. The breakdown utilizes brass smartly, giving a marching band/drumline feel that is more densely packed than we’re used to hearing from these types of tracks. Better yet are the variations in the drum pattern during the verses, which punctuate the otherwise standard hip-hop arrangement with bursts of unexpected excitement. I’m also happy that the vocalists weren’t completely ignored in a song that isn’t exactly vocal-oriented. Instead, they interact with the rappers throughout, which gives Gorilla the drive it needs to feel big and noteworthy. It’s a promising debut, and I have a feeling things will only get better from here.