Brave Girls appear once in a blue moon, descending upon the K-pop industry like an immortal, unending force. Much to our delight, they deliver a little pop truffle before disappearing once more — a mythical entity that may not return until years later.
This fiction vastly overstates their impact on the K-pop market, but I’m continually shocked by their longevity. As Brave Sound’s flagship group, they’re more “brand” than artist, with multiple member changes bearing that out. But if you’re going to be a vessel for the whims of a producer, there are worse maestros than Brave Brothers. Once a king of K-pop releases, his music is rarely heard these days. We’ve had to settle for a few underwhelming efforts from rookie boy group DKB. Brave Girls’ material can be hit-or-miss, but it always feels like Brave Brothers unfiltered. And, with “retro” becoming a buzzword this year, it’s the perfect time for his synth-heavy sound to make a resurgence.
New single We Ride (운전만해) tackles the popular city pop genre. It’s a slavish re-creation of the sound, more so that Sunmi’s peppier (and excellent) Pporappippam earlier this summer. And, that approach is both its calling card and restraint. At its most forgettable, city pop dulls many of a song’s edges in favor of a straightforward, subdued bop. This is the case with We Ride, which delivers a vibe but skimps on dynamic peaks and valleys. The track is a head-nodder, pulsing along a percolating groove with accents of synth strings adding atmosphere. It’s not unlike much of the material on Yukika’s recent album, though she was able to conjure more engaging hooks. In contrast, We Ride is breezy, undemanding fun — perfect for a lazy summertime drive.