Over the past few years, BLACKPINK singles have devolved into a clear formula. Now, formulas aren’t inherently bad, but when you’re only releasing a handful of tracks and they all start to sound the same, it doesn’t make for a very interesting discography. However, after four years of inconsistent promotions, the girls finally have a full album under their belt. Never mind that — at only eight tracks — the use of the word “full” is debatable. Beggars can’t be choosers, after all.
To its credit, new single Lovesick Girls sounds more like a coherent song than either of BLACKPINK’s 2020 pre-releases. Both How You Like That and Ice Cream had their moments, but often came across as little more than catchphrase ideas strung together. Lovesick Girls channels a more classic YG Entertainment sound – big and chugging and cathartic. It’s dance pop with a guitar-driven heart, trading between emotive verses and a fizzier chorus. Both segments work well together, which is a minor miracle when dealing with a BLACKPINK title track.
Refreshingly, the song unveils a full-throated chorus, composed of two catchy refrains. First, we’ve got the chanted, titular hook. Its melody is instantly memorable, though I wish the producers had given it a beefier arrangement. Even chorused, the girls’ vocals sound as if they’re about to evaporate. This blunts the overall effect of an otherwise exciting moment. It feels smaller than it should. Thankfully, this is followed by a more dramatic refrain that offers a stronger vocal performance. Taken together, I think the two pieces make for an effective centerpiece.
Even better is Lovesick Girls’ second verse. This particular segment has been a stumbling block for K-pop of late, but BLACKPINK get it right. This verse is largely driven by rap, and the instrumental wisely adds layers rather than pulling back. The guitar here is a real treat, giving the verse a welcome urgency that works especially well coming directly after the chorus. I think the production could have gotten grittier here, but Lovesick Girls has its eyes firmly fixed upon the mainstream. Its polish is expected, and any sense of monotony is countered by the character in BLACKPINK’s performance. I don’t think Lovesick Girls is quite up there with the group’s very best, and it’s certainly not a patch on YG classics like Crooked or I Love You. But, it’s pretty satisfying to hear a BLACKPINK comeback that doesn’t include a feeble drop chorus or a predictable chanted outro.