It has been over half a year since NMIXX – comprising members Haewon, Lily, Sullyoon, Jinni, Bae, Jiwoo and Kyujin – burst onto the scene with their rollercoaster ride of a debut single ‘O.O’. For better or worse, the divisive track succeeded in drawing attention to the septet, leaving K-pop fans wondering what their next release would sound like.
Now back with their sophomore single album ‘Entwurf’, the rookie girl group take another stab at establishing their “MIXX POP” sound devised by JYP Entertainment, one NMIXX previously described as “combining two or more genres into one song”. This kind of genre-mashing isn’t a particularly novel concept in K-pop but it does give us a better idea of what to expect from this nascent group. Whether the septet can add a fresh spin to the concept, however, that remains to be seen.
The whimsical, maximalist title track ‘Dice’ borrows heavily from energetic Latin jazz, which dissolves into a menacing trap beat in its first sing-rap verse before coming back full swing in the chorus. The members of NMIXX are fans of the Latin music scene, and while the group have yet to write their own music, the song’s flashy bossa nova-inspired instrumentation could be an optimistic sign of the act’s growing creative control over their output.
NMIXX shine the brightest in the chorus, their lavish vocals – Sullyoon’s rich tone particularly stands out here – bolstered by flamboyant brass sections. It makes ‘Dice’ a much richer listening experience than ‘O.O’, which was a random grab bag of the typical K-pop girl crush fare, even if many fans ultimately warmed up to it. Mid-song, however, ‘Dice’ swerves into a new section that, while catchy, resembles their labelmates ITZY’s 2021 single ‘Swipe’ a tad too much – down to Kyujin and Jiwoo’s sassy sing-talk delivery and the minimalistic 808 beats that punctuate the section.
In a release intended to help shape NMIXX’s sound, these noticeable similarities distract from the rookie act and the construction of their own identity. Like ‘O.O’, the transition is abrupt and jarring, and its lyrics – now suddenly full of basketball metaphors – stick out like a sore thumb. Thankfully, the track quickly swoops back into jazzy exuberance with an invitation from main vocalist Lily into the “uncharted mystical camino”, leaving its dicey second verse in the dust.
As with their debut release, the record’s lone B-side ‘Cool (Your Rainbow)’ is the more fully realised of the two tracks on ‘Entwurf’ and arguably NMIXX’s best offering yet. This enchanting R&B number is further elevated by exquisite string instrumentation, endowing the track with a magical, dreamlike atmosphere.
While often obscured by busy instrumentation and shouty lines, each member of NMIXX possesses their own distinct vocal tone, which they don’t hesitate to showcase in this mid-tempo track, its lyrics escaping them in delicate sighs and coos. Simple and effective, ‘Cool (Your Rainbow)’ grants the girl group space to be deliberate in their delivery, resulting in some of their best vocals to date – including a haunting opera-inspired outro by Lily.
In ‘Entwurf’, NMIXX take a gamble with Latin jazz and classical strings – though these are not completely uncharted waters in the K-pop realm – taking the new release a step up from their debut effort. While the soulful ‘Cool (Your Rainbow)’ makes for a stunning addition to their discography, the girl group fail to cash in on the potential of its title track ‘Dice’. Here’s to hoping that NMIXX strike it big on their third release.