As YG Entertainment itself has continued to pull back on releasing new material from its artists, sub-labels HIGHGRND and The Black Label have started to flourish. Code Kunst is a producer from the former, which is headed by rapper/producer Tablo, who features on Fire Water. Joining the two is JYP’s G.Soul, who has seen a fair amount of indie success himself. It’s a match made in heaven, and though Fire Water doesn’t take full advantage of its participants’ considerable talents, it’s a welcome dose of subdued cool.
The track employs an almost tribal drum beat that is gradually expanded with layers of atmospheric synths. It’s a lush soundscape, and gives the instrumental a hushed, otherworldly ambiance. It’s a smart match for G.Soul’s lithe vocals, which have always had an appealing flexibility. The melody here is not particularly complex, but G.Soul lends a restless, malleable quality. The way he echoes many of his lines with breathy ad-libs adds to the song’s ethereal composition. Tablo’s verses aren’t nearly as memorable. It’s always great to hear his inimitable tone, but I think his delivery here could have used more restraint.
While Fire Water’s sense of chill smoothness is its greatest strength, it’s also what prevents it from being a total standout. The song’s vibe is so comfortable and engaging that it warrants repeated listens. It could probably be looped over and over again without growing particularly tiring. But without the kind of dynamic ebb and flow that might have created standout moments, the track becomes more of a setting than a story. It’s a gorgeous setting, filled with a depth of sound that pulls the listener inward, but points of build and climax could have transformed it into something utterly unforgettable.