Though Fromis 9 is yet another group cobbled together from a survival program, they impressed with a strong debut mini album earlier this year. They’ve yet to offer anything new when it comes to girl group tropes, but working with producers like Iggy and Youngbae and 1Take and TAK has given their burgeoning discography a polished pop sheen. Unfortunately, new single “DKDK” (an acronym of sorts for the Korean onomatopoeia of a heartbeat) fails to live up to that promise.
“DKDK” is relentlessly perky, but the song struggles to forge that energy into something memorable. Its aegyo-laced darts come at you from all angles, whizzing by without making a mark. Like its vowel-less title, it’s missing the melodic connective tissue needed to hold all the pieces together. This frenetic pacing can work if it builds to a central hook as enticing as Red Velvet’s “Dumb Dumb” or Twice’s “Cheer Up“, but “DKDK”’s chorus feels more like a playground taunt than a tightly constructed refrain. Its catchy “dugun dugun” climax briefly cuts through the noise, but it’s too little, too late.
It doesn’t help that Fromis 9 is a group without much variance in tones. Though the girls are clearly talented, their voices tend to run together. There’s no Yuju or Wendy to provide belt-it-out moments of contrast. This tonal uniformity isn’t unusual for K-pop, but it requires more creativity when it comes to arrangement and songwriting. On the plus side, the girls delivered what might be their best song yet in album track “22nd Century Girl“. I can’t even fathom why that wasn’t chosen as the single.