(G)I-DLE – ‘I Feel’ review: destined to be their most divisive release yet
With all the darkness that’s happening in the world, don’t we deserve a bit of fun? (G)I-DLE, at least, seem to think so – leading their latest mini-album ‘I Feel’ with a song like ‘Queencard’ certainly isn’t a move made by a group wanting to linger on the bleakness of Earth’s current plights.
Campy, frothy fun – and served with a healthy dose of irony – the garishly bright title track acts as a tongue-in-cheek series of affirmations. “Spotlight, look at me / I’m a star, star, star,” Soyeon and Yuqi share on the chorus, but it’s the lyrics on either side of that tame declaration that have been raising eyebrows. “Queencard, I’m hot,” they begin, perfectly acceptably before it all unravels: “My boob and booty’s hot […] Queencard, I’m the top / I’m twerking on the runway.” Cringy? Cheesy? An affront to the English language? Yes, yes, and quite possibly, but try singing these lines without them making you smile – and good luck keeping them out of your head, too.
As fun as the song is, it’s a relief that the rest of ‘I Feel’ doesn’t reach quite as ridiculous levels. Its remaining five tracks, though, refuse to get totally serious, instead splitting between more light-hearted moments and deeper topics. On the happier end, the five women unite in search of a good time on ‘Lucid’ and ‘All Night’, prowling through slinky, noirish pop. “Do you want to dance with me?” Shuhua asks, each word delivered tantalisingly slowly before she follows up with the whispered command: “Let’s just have fun together.”
‘All Night’, meanwhile, loosens things up more. Co-written by Yuqi and PENTAGON’s Wooseok, it’s driven by a low-slung, elastic bassline that’s occasionally punctuated by big rock riffs. “All night, we dance ’til the morning / All night, we up all night,” the ladies purr over the top, inviting you to join them in their ultra-chic dance party.
Rounding out the more bubbly side of the record is ‘Paradise’, a crystalline pop ballad that’s pretty but suffers from being surrounded by songs with such strong personalities. Lyrically, it’s an ode to a person who makes “all pain in my memory fade” and full of comparisons to movies and flying through the clouds – sweet, but a little predictable.
On the other end of the spectrum, (G)I-DLE explore their insecurities. The pop-punk chug of ‘Allergy’ offers up feelings of social media ennui and feeling out of step with the rest of the world (“Every night in the search tab / Am I the only one without Chanel?,” Soyeon assesses. “Today’s teens seem more mature than I am”). Coming right after ‘Queencard’, its self-loathing is a complete 180, but even listened to in isolation there’s something that falls flat – not quite enough angst to pull off the malaise of the genre they’ve selected to work with here.
‘Peter Pan’, meanwhile, is deceptive. Its instrumental is built of bright acoustic guitar strums and snapping beats, but the five-piece are feeling far from sunny. “Still a childish adult / Just a little taller / So insignificant, so pathetic / I want to make an excuse that I’m too young,” they sigh. “But I’m an adult / Even if I use a lot of time / Stupid, dumb, idiot / Please get your act together.”
‘I feel’ might not be (G)I-DLE’s strongest release so far, but it presents a group unafraid to make bold moves as they grow creatively (every song was co-written or co-composed by at least one of the members). Their habit of continuing to challenge and experiment is what makes their comebacks so exciting – long may it continue.
- Release date: May 15, 2023
- Record label: CUBE Entertainment