After a brief detour into monkey-themed madness with sub-unit Banhana, Oh My Girl have returned as a full group, picking up where they left off with January’s stately Secret Garden. The girls have found their niche with a lushly-produced dream pop style that allows them to indulge their more eccentric musical leanings while delivering the type of robust choruses that characterize the best of girl group K-pop. New single Remember Me (불꽃놀이) takes that blueprint and sends it soaring, even if its disorienting structure confounds expectations.
The hard-hitting electro beat that opens Remember Me is a bit of a shock, and also a red herring. It promises a high-octane dance floor filler with the kind of build/release structure we’ve grown so accustomed to. The truth is, Remember Me is stranger than that. Its off-kilter arrangement constantly keeps you off balance, culminating in a sweeping centerpiece that feels more like a pre-chorus. With the EDM format gaining a stranglehold on modern K-pop, we’re used to a song’s segments being telegraphed way in advance. Oh My Girl play with these expectations, shifting abruptly between disparate styles.
And then there’s that chorus. It doesn’t appear where you think it might, and I can understand how that may feel underwhelming to many. There’s no culminating instrumental drop, or rousing chant. Instead, we get a beautiful — almost symphonic — piece of melody, ascending with a touch that feels both soft and powerful. The subtle addition of strings capitalizes on this refrain’s cinematic nature before the instrumental plunges back into its rough electronic base. It’s quite a contrast, but succeeds in drawing out the song’s diverse strengths. Oh My Girl have gone experimental before, and like last year’s Coloring Book, I won’t be surprised if Remember Me splits opinion. Still, I’d rather a group swing big than settle for the same sounds and structures as everyone else.