[Review] EXID go with different sounds on “I Love You” and some of them work

I’m a big fan of artists sticking with a small circle of producers for the bulk of their career. Even when their music branches into new terrain, this kind of collaborative loyalty results in a cohesive discography and signature style. This has been the case with EXID since debut, as they’ve turned to producer Shinsadong Tiger for almost every single title track they’ve released. You know what kind of vibe you’re going to get from an EXID track, but the girls have avoided predictability by swerving from one genre to the next.

New single “I Love You” marks the return of leader Solji, who hasn’t promoted with the group since late 2016 due to health issues. The song is built around a vocal sample that heavily frames the first verse and also acts as a post-chorus hook. This in-your-face loop will likely be the track’s most polarizing element. I don’t find it particularly grating, but I don’t think it’s especially pleasant either.

But for me, “I Love You”’s chorus is more troublesome. I hate to even bring this up because it feels so subjective, but just like the group’s 2016 hit L.I.E, I find the key here to be pitched way too high. It verges on shrill, and taking things down a notch would have provided a much more comfortable performance. Hyelin and Solji are powerful vocalists, for sure, but I don’t think anthemic melodies like this are well-suited to the higher register.

I much prefer the song’s funky verses — especially when they play with tempo and tone after the first chorus. There’s no bridge to be found in the track, and only two choruses before that insistent vocal sample takes us the finish line. It makes me wish “I Love You” would’ve left more room for the fun, experimental stuff. That thirty-two seconds between 1:44-2:16 really needs to be expanded into a full song.

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