The roll out for Chungha’s first studio album Querencia has stretched across eleven months, showcasing a variety of sounds and styles. This extended run of singles has been quite successful, offering a little something for every taste. The album itself takes advantage of this. It’s divided into four distinct sides, each driven by a specific mood. And at twenty-one tracks, you’re bound to find at least one highlight. Unfortunately, title track Bicycle is not that highlight for me.
Bicycle sounds like a noisy boy group track, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. I’m concerned about K-pop’s increasing instinct to place noise ahead of melody. Bombast without substance is just bombast, after all. Bicycle opens with a bang, presenting a wall of guitar distortion. This feels like the only original texture within the track. Everything else is driven by the same limp, soulless percussion that’s become synonymous with this DIY, everything-comes-from-a-sample-pack pop era. How satisfying could Bicycle have been if its lurching beats were replaced with something funky and organic? Invite a skilled percussionist to add some flavor to the track. Right now, it all feels canned.
A memorable hook might have overcome this instrumental mush, but Bicycle is content to coast on catchphrases and melodic scraps. Ninety percent of the track is sing-talk nonsense. Chungha briefly segues into hip-hop during the second verse — an improvement over the attitude-fused bluster that precedes it. At least her rap feels rhythmic and intentional. Everything else is a joyless compilation of “Get out of my way,” “ride it, ride it,” “vroom vroom vroom” and “you know how I like it.” Despite Chungha’s undeniable charisma, Bicycle feels incredibly dull.