Cutesy concepts aren’t for everyone. Personally, I can go either way when it comes to the lighter side of girl group K-pop, but once we get into coochie coo chirp chirp meow meow type aegyo it becomes harder for me to appreciate a song. Fromis_9’s DKDK didn’t quite become that infantile (though it did prominently feature a cat in its music video), but it was still a little quirky-cute for my taste. Thankfully, new single Love Bomb brings more edge to their sound.
If there’s one thing I took away from this year’s KCON in regards to fromis_9, it was that they were more than capable of pulling off a girl crush style. Love Bomb doesn’t quite get there, but its infusion of attitude lays the groundwork for more exciting things to come. This shift is apparent immediately, as the song opens with a noisy splash of electronics. The boisterousness dials down as we enter the first verse, though it’s always lurking just beneath the surface. It colors the frenetic, trap-infused hi-hat and pops up in the tickles of manic synth that punctuate the second, rap-heavy verse.
All of this constant action could easily have become overpowering, but Love Bomb‘s pop rush of a chorus anchors the track. It expertly melds the surging with the rhythmic, overlaying bright exclamations on top of a lushly arranged refrain that feels ripped from the 80’s. The girls have already given us a superior version of this sound with b-side 22nd Century Girl, but I’m happy to hear them continue along the same route for a title track. And though Love Bomb only really hits in fits and starts, I can easily see them returning with something even stronger next time around.
That’s not a trap-style high-hat though… it sounds like a TR808 that someone smashed into a refrigerator – and that’s definitely a compliment. The song starts off only vaguely interesting with the odd glitchy keyboard sounds, but then really ramps it up during the prechorus, where the melody starts to become coherent and the background vocals come in. By the time we’re at the chorus, the instrumental has GOTTEN there. We have the aforementioned 900bpm drum machine happening; the movement in the synths is really nice; the twinkly accents are a good touch, and then in the last chorus there’s what, three(?) different vocal melodies creating this awesome wall of sound affect. It’s like getting punched in the face by fairies; I love it.
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