Right now, Lovelyz are in the same spot their agency seniors Infinite were in 2016: about a year from their contract renewal date and plagued by an infrequent release schedule. That’s not to say the individual members haven’t been busy. Kei and Sujeong each released solo albums, and the irresistibly-extra Mijoo has become something of a variety star. But, it’s been almost sixteen months since we’ve heard a full-group comeback. This is coming on the heels of Lovelyz’ participation in last year’s Queendom, which delivered… mixed results for them. Perhaps that experience influenced Obliviate‘s change-up in sound.
Song for song, Lovelyz are one of my favorite K-pop girl groups. Much of that is due to their consistent sound and musical identity. They’ve switched things up here and there, but you can always count on a Lovelyz single to deliver classic pop melody and satisfying arrangements. Obliviate maintains some of that charm, but also takes some frustrating turns.
As the group’s first real “dark” title track, Obliviate opens with plucked guitar over a driving beat that quickly dissipates into a more minimalist, trap-infused verse. While this verse offers plenty of atmosphere, the melody never really hits. I like how Babysoul’s dramatic vocal sweeps us into the pre-chorus, but the whole arrangement feels a little unfocused – a hurdle that Obliviate continues to struggle with as it goes on.
In contrast, the song’s chorus is almost too tightly structured. The catchy deep house beat works well, but the hooks are repetitive to a point where they nearly grate. Rather than offer a variety of structural approaches, Obliviate delivers one repeated phrase after another. “Obliviate, obliviate” is quickly followed by “down down stop it, down down stop it.” Just one of these segments might have been potent, but taken together they quickly become monotonous. Obliviate’s beguiling mood compensates a bit, but I think this track could have been much more dynamic.