Song Review: INI – We Are

INI - We AreThus far, INI have been a frustrating prospect. In my opinion, they haven’t been dealt a decent song yet. When the group’s line-up was announced on the finale of last year’s Produce 101 Japan, I was thrilled to see how many talented vocalists made the cut. But, songs like Call 119 have opted for far more shouting than singing and haven’t managed to tether strong hooks to all the bluster.

With We Are, INI are finally able to showcase a new side to their music. The song might not compare to the highest highs of JO1’s discography (or even the Produce franchise itself), but this is the first time I’m eager to add an INI track to my own playlist. We Are has its sights set on an easy springtime energy. Its mid-tempo beat emphasizes a gradual build as footfalls of percussion nudge us toward a melodic centerpiece.

I really like this two-part chorus. It has a breezy, seesawing nature that never devolves into nursey rhyme nonsense. Instead, a robust vocal performance gives the melody plenty of heft. Guitar joins the fray, while big splashes of percussion highlight the second half of the refrain. It’s a catchy mix, relying on a careful build-and-release structure rather than gimmicky catchphrases. Stacked against many current J-pop (and K-pop) trends, a song like this may feel too middle-of-the-road. I get that, and I’m not ready to declare We Are a stunning work of originality. But, it’s a welcome salve after tracks like Call 119 and Rocketeer.

Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9


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