If there’s an act that’s committed to and given due justice to the ‘girl crush’ concept in K-pop, it’s EVERGLOW. From their bombastic debut with ‘Bon Bon Chocolat’, to the chest-thumping femme-fatale of ‘Dun Dun’, to the Sin City-inspired ‘La Di Da’ – the latter being one of the best tracks of 2020 – EVERGLOW have taken the oft-insular girl crush concept and infused it with a vigour that’s as addictive as their heady, anthemic numbers.
Yet, 2021 seemed to be rocky for the sextet. They kicked off the year as “warriors from the future” with ‘Last Melody’, a three-track single album that, despite its ambitious futuristic concept, felt rushed at best and fractured at worst. Coming on the heels of mini-albums like ‘Reminiscence’ and ‘−77.82X−78.29’ probably did not do it any favours either. 2020 had been a fantabulous year for EVERGLOW, pegging them as a potential great in this generation of K-pop, so one couldn’t help but think as if ‘Last Melody’ had undermined their success.
Rest assured, ‘Return Of The Girl’ sets the world right on its axis once again and comes as a breath of fresh air. The group return to their strengths on this one, delivering sizzling, attractive confidence wrapped up in powerful, heavy beats and strong, blasting horns, as if literally announcing their arrival. Well, they certainly made us sit up and notice.
The standout track on the album is, of course, the frenetic title track ‘Pirate’. Moving at breakneck pace from the get-go, the track comes layered with the aforementioned horns and powerful beat drops, creating a terrific synergy with the idea of the girls shedding their inhibitions and leading a raid right into our hearts. Like the namesake of the song, ‘Pirate’ is where EVERGLOW run wild and free, shirking the responsibilities of the civilised world, “Rowin’ for the crown, waving the flag”, and having fun in who they are.
If ‘Pirate’ is them blowing the doors to our hearts to smithereens, ‘Don’t Speak’ is what seals the deal – as soon as the summery, shimmery tunes kick in, you’re done for. At first glance, it’s hard not to draw a comparison between ‘Don’t Speak’ and ‘Untouchable’, a cut from ‘−77.82X−78.29’, since both tracks rest in similar retro spaces.
Where ‘Untouchable’ charmed us with the devotion it portrayed in the lyrics, ‘Don’t Speak’ brings an exciting playfulness and shrewdness to the dynamics of a relationship. It’s as if, a year down the line, the group is taking charge of what they want and diving straight into it. Confidence suits EVERGLOW well, especially when it comes laced with a calculated sweetness.
The playfulness of ‘Don’t Speak’ transforms into an exciting thrill on ‘Nighty Night’, which seems straight out of a fairy tale, with us trying to find our way out of a maze while EVERGLOW cruelly toy with us. The horns and powerful beats are back, coupled with measured claps and a delightfully refrained pre-chorus, which makes the segue into the chorus that much more satisfying.
The closing track on the album is the bombastic ‘Company’, or as we call it, the meaner, but no less confident sister to ‘Dun Dun’. Between the grand orchestration and the paced beats, it’s hard not to draw comparisons between the two. Where ‘Dun Dun’ comes with a subdued streak of malevolence – “Even if you run it’s a deserted island, alright it’s all over,” the group says on the song – ‘Company’ comes in guns cocked and targets locked from the get-go. “I yawned, I’m sorry, your jokes are not funny, I hate them,” they say in what is probably one of their most savage takedowns ever.
For this one, however, it’s best to save the most surprising and vulnerable for the last – the opening track ‘Back Together’. While it’s not the first time EVERGLOW have opened an album on a softer note, it certainly feels special, primarily because of how personal it sounds. As if addressing their fans directly, the group talks about how no matter where the compass takes them, true North is always their fans. Coupled with the soaring melodies on the song – reminding us of their satisfying balance of powerhouse vocals as well as rap – we can’t help but think whether this is homecoming for them as well. They may have been a little lost with their previous release, but they’re on the right course with this one.
- Release date: December 1
- Record label: Yuehua Entertainment