a fierce testament to their individuality

Since their triumphant return from hiatus in 2022, (G)I-DLE have been on a roll. Every release since, from the chart-topping ‘Tomboy’ to the empowering anthem ‘Nxde’, has continued to take them to greater and greater heights. And with all that success, the quintet have kicked off a brand-new era with their second studio album, ‘[2]’, which is their first release to drop the “I” naming convention they’ve used since debut.

Last year, the group struck gold with the deliciously campy ‘Queencard’, and they channel that same energy on the bouncy, hyperbolic ‘Wife’. Here, they take playful but piercing shots at the male fantasy of a perfect wife through their caricature-esque delivery and thinly veiled sexual innuendo atop an unreasonably addictive dance beat. Censorship be damned, if there’s one K-pop group that can give us a cutting message in the form of an easy to swallow pill of infectious pop music, it’s (G)I-DLE.

On title track ‘Super Lady’, however, the girl group pivot to the more traditional female empowerment formula with a hard-hitting, anthemic EDM banger. Channelling the titans of second-generation K-pop, we see glimpses of 2NE1’s ‘I Am The Best’ and T-ARA’s iconic ‘Sugar Free’ in its haughty, confident rap verses and intense instrumental drop. While its spoken hook of “lady, lady, call me super lady” doesn’t quite pack the same punch, ‘Super Lady’ is still super catchy and kicks the record off at an energetic pace.

Good things often come in threes, and the triple-whammy of ‘Super Lady’, ‘Revenge’ and ‘Doll’ make for a euphoric first listen of ‘[2]’. Deliciously spiteful, the rock riffs of ‘Revenge’ will send you on a relentless warpath as Yuqi and Minnie declare: “Let’s run further to hell / Like a magnet, I’m looking for you again / Until you’re destroyed”. Meanwhile, the beautifully haunting ‘Doll’ – co-penned and produced by Yuqi – feels like a sequel to 2022’s ‘Sculpture’ as they enter their villain arc, no longer willing to contort themselves in the name of feeling worthy of love.

Though (G)I-DLE’s attention has shifted away from matters of the heart since their hiatus, the girl group still know their way around an immaculate love song. One of the album’s two standouts, ‘Vision’ is an alluring jersey club gem, curious and coy as it is urgent and seductive. Its instrumental lulls you into a dreamy, lovesick haze, and the group’s feather-light whispers only pull you deeper.

Another standout is the deceptively upbeat ‘Fate’. A mix of pop-rock guitars and jaunty piano flourishes lend it the bittersweet energy of the end credits track of a slice-of-life anime series. In its lyrics, they reckon with the exhausting, empty existence of refusing to deal with heartbreak, before Soyeon reluctantly resigns in the end: “No, I think it’s better to pass by / Because I just hate getting hurt”.

Yet, ‘[2]’ isn’t without its misses. While ‘7Days’ is a touching declaration of love to their fans, like many similar songs across the K-pop world, it doesn’t bring anything particularly interesting to the table. Far more authentic to the quintet’s sound and energy is the braggadocious hip-hop track ‘Rollie’, which feels like what their 2023 88rising collaboration ‘I Want That’ should have been.

More than ever, ‘[2]’ sees the members of (G)I-DLE fluidly switching roles, from Soyeon’s towering vocals in its lead single to the Minnie and Miyeon’s impressive dexterity in the rapid-fire rap verses in ‘Wife’. While not as sonically and thematically cohesive as their past releases, this record pulls its weight as an impressive, diverse show of just what they are capable of, both as performers and producers.

Details

gi-dle 2 album review

  • Release date: January 29, 2023
  • Record label: CUBE Entertainment


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