After four years of steadily-increasing success, WJSN (Cosmic Girls) have unveiled their first sub-unit. The ridiculously-titled Chocome consists of members Soobin, Luda, Yeoreum and Dayoung, and promises a quirkier concept than the group’s usual space-and-fantasy themed material. As with all sub-units, the quality of Hmph (흥칫뿡) could go either way. Thankfully, the girls fully commit to the song’s exuberant style, giving Chocome an appeal that’s all its own.
Longtime K-pop fans will hear more than a little T-ara and Crayon Pop coursing through Hmph’s musical veins. Right from the start, the track’s pulsing dancefloor beat brought me back to a different era. Add a brass loop on top and you’ve got all the ingredients of a second-gen smash. Of all the directions I might have expected a WJSN sub-unit to take, this was not one of them. I appreciate the approach, but I wish it had been anchored by a more robust hook. Classics like Roly-Poly and Lovey-Dovey relied on simple choruses, but boy were those melodies memorable! In contrast, Hmph’s refrain lacks a little bite. It’s repetitive and catchy, but isn’t quite melodic.
Even so, Hmph’s great energy helps to compensate. Its electropop groove never dips or strays, and the girls’ vocals are largely arranged as part of the production. When they devolve into a series of blips and bloops, it’s in keeping with the general vibe the instrumental has set up. And although the performance embraces aegyo a bit too much for my taste, I can’t fault the track for sticking to its guns. In the end, Hmph is designed with a very specific aim. And though it may not be for everyone at all times, it’s generally successful in delivering its concentrated sugar rush.