A long hiatus can be devastating for a group, but can also spur a musical transformation that allows them to reach new heights. Last time we heard from fromis_9 was all the way back in June 2019, when they released the unrelentingly hyper Fun. I know that song has its fervent supporters (some of which I witnessing during the group’s 2019 KCON performance), but I’ve always found it quite irritating. I’m much more partial to the “sophisticated” side of fromis_9’s discography. Many of their b-sides have been quite good, and new single Feel Good draws from a similar energy.
There’s no denying that “retro” is popular right now in K-pop, and Feel Good draws from many sounds of the past. It’s not a full-on pastiche, but its groovy, synth-laced instrumental hits a disco-charged sweet spot. The girls’ performance feels more subdued than usual, hinging on airy vocals rather than the more effusive aegyo that drove so many of their previous title tracks. This evolution makes sense, as the group has now entered their third year. Fromis_9 are still fun — maybe even with a big exclamation point attached! — but in a more subtle way.
Maybe it’s the title, but the first thing that Feel Good reminded me of is Twice’s Feel Special. The two songs share an uplifting energy, achieved by similar methods. In Feel Good’s case, the instrumental is heavily indebted to rhythm guitar, which gives the track a sprightly spirit. The melodies are tight and effective all the way through, though the track is at its best when it cruises into its ebullient post-chorus chant. The actual chorus is not quite as exciting, but the entire track is so tautly constructed that it hardly matters. It bounces along with an amiable charm, and that’s more than enough to keep the groove going.