Review

Song Review: LE SSERAFIM – Impurities

LE SSERAFIM - ImpuritiesThe strong series of b-sides that framed LE SSERAFIM’s debut Fearless helped make that song a big grower. In contrast, nothing outside of title track Antifragile really struck me from their newest album. I would’ve loved to see a music video for songs like Blue Flame or The Great Mermaid, but HYBE decided to save their follow-up promotion for Impurities.

In a way, I understand the approach. Thanks to acts like NewJeans, this style of laid-back 90’s pop is making a huge resurgence in the K-pop industry. Impurities paints within these lines. It has the style. It’s just missing the beguiling melody and lush arrangement that makes this sound soar. I mean, songs like Attention don’t come around every day.

Actually, Impurities reminds me of another girl group debut era. Back in 2014, Red Velvet followed up their bombastic Happiness with a sultry cover of S.E.S’s 90’s hit Be Natural. It was a smart way to display their duality, and it feels like LE SSERAFIM are opting for a similar approach. Impurities gets the job done, giving them space to showcase their vocals and their effortless sense of cool. The verses are a bit too sing-talk for my taste, failing to congeal into a melodic through-line that keeps my attention. But, I could see the song’s chorus becoming a major earworm the longer it sticks around. This hook would benefit from a more compelling vocal arrangement (more harmonies, perhaps?) and at least one distinct musical climax. Otherwise, Impurities is little more than a nice, groovy vibe.

Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.75

Grade: C+

20 thoughts on “Song Review: LE SSERAFIM – Impurities

  1. the performance enhances the song for me, but I still think this is the weakest track produced by Charli Taft and Daniel “Obi” Klein for a k-pop group. if Charli had sung this, and she probably sung the demo, I probably would’ve liked it better, she’s just THAT good of a singer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t love anything on this EP as much as “The Great Mermaid” but it’s solid enough. I’ve gotten into the habit of pulling both EPs up and listening to them on loop while I’m working. They’ve both got a good shot at my favorite EPs of the year list. Of course, it’s been the kind of year where the only other EPs I can immediately think of going on the list are ATEEZ and Max Changmin. Yikes.

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  3. I guess it’s not fair to make comparisons, and one year does not a career make, but at this juncture, I’m much more interested in NewJeans and what they’ll do next. All 4 songs on their EP were real growers and have genuine staying power, but I don’t feel that way about anything by Le Sserafim.

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  4. It’s fine. The 90’s vibe receives some extra points from me, but apart from that, the song is quite dull. Like, where’s the melody which saves the track from being so lackluster? And the production is bland af…
    To me, it feels like standard coffeeshop fare. Rating is just about right.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 2/2 … but of course, some of the greatest Kpop bands didn’t make splashes in their first or even second year, so don’t put too much stock in anything I write, lol…

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  6. So here’s the thing, this might be late 90’s casual flair, but in the late 90’s I wasn’t listening to this sound then either.

    That said, I could hear this as a b-side Mariah Carey circa Butterfly era, though she would sing the main line in a sotto voce whisper and add bucu high whistle ad libs. This would be a showcase for melisma and harmonization.

    I think as is, here, it showcases how melody poor today’s music tends to be. I think the whole melody is maybe four notes of sing song.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Melody poor” has been my biggest gripe about K-pop these past few years. Either the melodies are nonexistent or just super, super dull. Makes a good old-fashioned Sweetune bop stick out all the more!

      Liked by 6 people

  7. What a trip, I was hypnotized watching the MV and my mind danced to the rhythm of their voices. It is also unpretentious, it does not try to be more than what it offers. I like the lyrics too, with cohesion and a sense of progression, unlike other songs that just mix rhyming words with no coherence.
    It’s my cup of tea.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Personally I think that this album is slightly more better than their debut EP but I do get why it was so well-liked. It had a little bit of something for everyone compared to this one. I’m obsessed with this song and I can’t stop playing it. It’s perfect for afternoon commutes home

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  9. It’s not a bad song, and God knows I love me some groovin’ tunes, but listening to it in its entirety feels like going down a slide in slow motion. I mean, you’re definitely in the groove, but that’s it. No real peaks, no real lulls. Just wading.

    Not sure what they could’ve done to change that. Go up an octave during the second half? Maybe keep the BPM, but layers in an extra tom (or two) with the percussion and tickle a few ivories for some jazz elements? Slide bass? Bongos? A kazoo?!?

    Anywho.. ..I’m still a fan.

    Liked by 4 people

    • More particularly, I was thinking of Mariah Carey “Breakdown” off of the Butterfly / Honey album, where she does vary that melody and vocalizing over the same slow jam groove. For example 1:29 has an octave doubling which is just cool to listen to, intriguing, like you suggest.
      My answer would be more vocal layering, excessive vocal layering, but all sung not crafted by the guy behind the boards.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, there’s no denying Mariah can slot herself nicely into a groove. There’s plenty of examples of slow grooves out there from TLC’s “Diggin’ On You”, to French cafe pop, to.. ..well.. ..everything. Since I traded in Mimi for Momo a decade ago, I guess the best way to demonstrate where I was going with my suggestions is to take it right back to K-Pop.

        Example: GWSN “Wonderboy, the Aerialist”
        Ref (GWNS:WtA): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwINHOGg1GI

        Wonderboy keeps you in the groove, but it’s a little more rollercoaster; less teacup. If that makes sense?

        IMPORTANT: I’m not saying “Impurities” is a bad song. I like it alot; really! I was just suggesting that a few splashes of instrumentation or a few vocal flurries could’ve elevated it a bit. Regardless, it’s a keeper.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah that GWSN has a lot more melody in it, more of a jazzy Broadway style.

          Perhaps, alternatively, something old school kpop like SES who were all 90’s R&B classic sound, here “Dreams Coe True”

          ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uiR4SrDGZk

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  10. it’s a b-side and clearly meant more as a performance piece than a just a song. the choreo is beautiful and so is the mv. out of all the new girl groups this year, they’re by far the best performers and most natural on stage (as well as the most charming but i guess that’s subjective).

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I like “No Celestial” more than “Impurities”, but I do enjoy this song. It’s nothing stand out, though I’m in agreement with others here that the performance does elevate it. The chorus is definitely an earworm in a good way. Overally, it hits me as chill vibe-y music to play in the background while paying attention to other things more than something I want to seek out to listen to on its own, and I’m okay with that!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. DAMMIT! I can’t get this song out of my head. Go to make a cup of coffee.. ..there it is. Lean my head back and rub my eyes.. ..again. Stare out the window watching the first few flakes of winter falling outside.. ..BAM!; in my head.

    How the hell did this song get its hooks in? ..past the barbs!?

    Liked by 1 person

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