Being an idol rock group has to be difficult. If you incorporate choreography or dancefloor-driven electronics to your music, you start to lose any rock “credibility” you might have established. Yet, the idol scene craves the kind of trendy, concept-heavy pop/r&b that is difficult for bands to replicate. Rookie quartet IZ seem to be struggling with this dichotomy. Their first mini album came and went last year without much fanfare, and new single “Angel” seems destined to repeat the pattern.
I’m a little surprised that this song hasn’t garnered more attention simply because of its songwriters. “Angel” was composed by Bang Si Hyuk and Supreme Boi — two of the architects behind many of BTS’s biggest singles. I’m not sure how IZ scored this coup, but the song should benefit from enlisting established producers. Unfortunately, “Angel” is a far cry from the duo’s best work.
The song’s opening verse is dripping with potential, as it revs up with a chopped electronic arpeggio and mysterious, moody melody. I only wish the chorus followed through. What we get instead is a hook that feels all too generic — kind of a limp approximation of modern rock. The instrumental offers no favors, failing to build even as the melody wants to explode. This then segues into a rap verse that will sound very familiar to any BTS fan. However, its copycat phrasing only succeeds in reminding listeners just how talented BTS is. It’s a valiant effort, but IZ are still a band in search of a sound that is uniquely theirs.