Girl group CLC have been active for nearly two years now, but four mini albums later and they’re still struggling to break through and distinguish themselves from the pack. This is despite a very promising debut with the addictive Pepe in March of 2015. Given this dilemma, a total aural and image overhaul was a smart idea. And though I like the fact that the girls are moving towards a harder-edged sound, I wish Hobgoblin (도깨비) was a stronger song.
Label-mate HyunA’s shadow looms large over Hobgoblin. Though she’s not listed as a co-composer (only a lyricist), the song sounds very much like it could have been part of her last few albums. The problem is, I’ve felt her material has steadily worsened since 2014’s amazing Red. Hobgoblin borrows the EDM/trap framework that made last summer’s How’s This so grating. The song’s verses are its strongest segment. Their heavy beat and attitude-infused delivery recall 4minute‘s Crazy — especially that melodic pre-chorus and snowballing drum pattern. For the first few bars, CLC makes a convincing case for this drastic reinvention, rightfully asserting their place as Cube Entertainment’s new group of edgy starlets.
Unfortunately, Hobgoblin‘s chorus sabotages any goodwill the track may have been building. It’s an obnoxious refrain, perched somewhere between singing and rap with a bratty, forced delivery. I get that the girls are trying to make a statement, but what they needed was a massive, thundering hook (à la Dreamcatcher’s debut last week). Instead, they’re given a meager playground taunt. It’s a shame, because the mini album’s side tracks display a much more confident — and infinitely stronger — grasp of how effective this genre can be.