If judged solely by the English-speaking corners of K-pop’s internet fandom, CLC might as well be the biggest girl group on the planet. In their four years of promotion, they’ve yet to enjoy any major milestones in Korea. However, they’ve amassed a dedicated international following eager to support the underdog. That fan base has strengthened even further since the girls’ music took a harder-edged turn. And despite fellow girl group (G)I-DLE quickly becoming Cube Entertainment’s new golden child, many are intent on seeing CLC break out from under their shadow.
Honestly, No just might do it. Cube was smart to enlist (G)I-DLE’s own Soyeon as composer, leveraging her group’s hype to raise CLC’s notoriety. The two acts are starting to blend together when it comes to sound, but there’s no reason why they can’t coexist. And though No sounds a lot like a track you’d expect from (G)I-DLE, it’s a surprisingly ballsy version.
Much of No’s instrumental is given over to a thumping electro strut, but the production is run through so many filters that it never settles on one distinct style for long. Opening with an eminently quotable spoken-language hook, No fuels itself on attitude. It’s not so much a song as it is a statement, but CLC sell the charisma. And to its credit, the track actually contains more doses of pure pop melody than expected. Its sneering chorus is a bright oasis within a sea of lurching trap skitters and jolting transitions. And the seedy synths that underline the verses recall 2012-era bad girl electro-pop in the best way. I’m not sure how well No will age in the long run, but I could get on board with CLC adopting this energy on a permanent basis.