The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


I burn Verónica A. Bastardo , January 20th, 2021 09:29

A new mini-album (G)I-DLE more than lives up to the group's reputation for stretching the boundaries of K-pop, finds Verónica A. Bastardo

I burn marks a step further in (G)I-DLE’s mission to consolidate themselves as the most ambitious self-produced girl group in K-pop. Almost a year after their last mini album, the Seoul-based sextet come back with I burn. A theatrical extended player, flooded with grandiloquent orchestral instrumentals mixed with pop structures and EDM drops, that explores in a metaphorical way the path of regaining happiness and strength after the separation from a loved one.

The group is known for their innovative approach to K-pop. Playing with song structures, intricate arrangements, and taking full advantage of their diverse range of vocal timbres, is something that this EP achieves perfectly, finding a complete rawness through vocal performance.

“Is it my greed to wait for your spring again?” The melodramatic waltz ‘HANN (Alone in Winter)’ serves as a majestic opening and just the right intro for the title track. It begins with very low and dissonant piano chords that develop in poignant vocals, immersing you in a mysterious and distressed environment. This track will unveil the hurt and the longing of an inner battle to let go someone that once hurt you.

‘화(火花)’ (HWAA) – roughly translated as ‘Fire Flower’ – embodies the main concept of the EP. This track is a looping journey between the rhythmic drums of dancehall and open, airy spaces. The singer’s emotional voices, a bright, East Asian-sounding string instrument at the back and wind sound effects make up the details that transport you to a dark unknown wood where you can see flowers bloom even within the fire.

It is easy to get lost between the many K-pop girl groups that go with the classic hip-hop/pop/EDM/I’m-a-badass-and-I’ll-show-you sound and the bubblegum-pop/dancehall/high-pitched-voices-from-the-girl-next-door one. So it’s refreshing to hear a tracklist that is musically daring, by experimenting with genre mixes and exploring universal emotions through vulnerability and figurative narratives. Like ‘Moon’, that combines the characteristic East Asian instrumentation and electro-rock to beg the nocturnal satellite to pleeeaase stop shining so I can hide my sadness in the dark.

This is the group’s most well thought-out music project to date. The producers of the group (members Soyeon, Minie, and Yuqi) have more than proved themselves, flexing their growth as creative minds and showing their amazing capacity to explode their individualities, nailing this dark, sorrowful concept with tenderness and fragility.

The combination of the remains of a reverb-heavy bass and Minnie’s faintly echoed voice at the end of final track ‘Dahlia’ is the last thing you hear in the EP and I couldn't help but think “Is this it? That doesn’t feel like an end. Where’s the outstanding outro? Was that intentional?”. Perhaps it was a curator’s mistake, the lack of a proper closure. Or maybe it’s part of the game? If anything, it left me craving for more, eager with curiosity for their next release, since surely I’ll get all my answers then.