CLC have returned with a vastly different concept and sound almost every time they’ve released an album, causing their discography to have a fragmented personality that has made it difficult for them to establish a lasting fan base. In some ways, I feel like I’ve been overly harsh on their output, but it’s hard to fully enjoy a group who seem so mismanaged. New single Where Are You? (어디야?) shifts things yet again, taking on an 80’s adult contemporary sheen that’s miles away from what any other k-pop group is attempting at the moment.
If Where Are You was a stronger song, this ballsy genre shift would be laudable. Unfortunately, much of the melody here is akin to musical wallpaper. It aims for lush and stately but winds up closer to monotonous and sleepy. The production is the standout, perfectly emulating a specific late-80’s sound. As bursts of saxophone cry in the background, dreamy synths sprinkle the downtempo soundscape. Tethered to a more engaging melody, this instrumental could have transformed into something incredibly special and nostalgic.
What we get instead is a chorus that doesn’t really go anywhere and verses that give us polished harmonies without a sense of personality to back them up. In a way, Where Are You is perfect background music — too innocuous to draw attention but enjoyable as a mood-setter. I’d love to see the girls stick with a sound for more than one comeback and further explore 80’s influences that better draw on their charisma and personalities.