Over the past few years, Apink have stuck to a very familiar pop sound. For many, it felt like the group was simply spinning their wheels rather than expand expectations of what an Apink single could be. While this tried and true formula resulted in a steady level of success, the girls ran the risk of being eclipsed by younger acts with fresher sounds. New single I’m So Sick (1도 없어) attempts to break free from this rut, enlisting mega-producers Black Eyed Pilseung for a novel twist on the tropical trend.
I’m So Sick opens with its most interesting collage of sounds, as a series of warped background vocals cascade in unexpected directions. This is complemented by some gorgeous synth notes, giving the song an ethereal atmosphere all its own. From here, the instrumental moves toward a more standard tropical beat, retaining its eccentricities as ornamentation rather than a driving force. This is a bit of a shame. But, the cool, experimental stuff still shines through, culminating in a brief burst of distorted guitar as Sick reaches its climax.
While the song is more upbeat than most recent Apink material, its melody carries a hint of melancholy that sets it apart from traditional dance tracks. In this way, its airy structure recalls Chungha’s Roller Coaster (also produced by Black Eyed Pilseung). Main vocal Eunji’s rich vocals are particularly well-suited to this nuanced tone, but all the girls give solid performances. And even if I wish the chorus would explode just a bit more, there’s so much to chew on here. I’m So Sick might not pack the pop punch of Apink’s breakout 2012-2014 material, but it presents an exciting new road map for the next stage of their career.