Whatever happens, CRAXY will always have one of K-pop’s most brilliantly bonkers debut songs in 2020’s Aria. That ambition has woven throughout their career, even if the music itself has become more typically 4th-gen K-pop in its execution. For their third mini album, the group has turned to production team D_answer, most well-known for their work with Pixy. This collaboration is likely to bear fruit, but title track Undercover doesn’t quite get there.
Undercover leans further into hip-hop than past title tracks, unleashing a ferocious energy clearly inspired by successful peers like BLACKPINK and aespa. CRAXY deliver the schtick as well as anyone, but nothing about the track helps them stick out. D_answer inject their trademark horror-show elements – a bit of demented vocal fry here, a touch of spooky synth there. It’s quite evocative, but the song itself doesn’t draw much attention.
I prefer the verses to the chorus. They feel super familiar, but the creeping groove underneath gives them an addictive bounce. The pre-chorus stands as an open, airy counterpoint to Undercover’s claustrophobic arrangement, but the chorus that follows is a missed opportunity. The production is satisfying sparse, but the repeated tagline “undercover goddess” feels undercooked. I wish we had a melodic counterpoint here rather than a monotonous, spoken hook. The blustery post-chorus doesn’t help matters, though the song holds together better than I would have expected. Just like Pixy’s music with D_answer, I anticipate stronger work in the future. Undercover feels like a testing of the waters before CRAXY re-embrace the Aria-esque madness that makes them so interesting.