[Review] IZ*ONE flatline on robotic “Buenos Aires”

Between their Korean and Japanese promotions, IZ*ONE are set to accrue the largest discography of any ‘Produce 101‘ group yet. Their cross-country releases are a shrewd business move, but I’m curious whether the girls will be able to maintain a high quality once they’ve moved beyond first few singles. That has always been an issue with ‘Produce’-spawned project groups, and new track “Buenos Aires” is beginning to show the wear.

IZ*ONE surprised me with this February’s “Suki To Iwasetai,” delivering a lush piece of anthemic pop catered primarily toward the J-pop market. “Buenos Aires” has a less specific sound, which makes it more forgettable. If the song had its way, its oft-repeated titular refrain would lodge itself in your brain and demand repeated listens. However, it’s a particularly maddening piece of melody — immediately catchy but lacking charm. It’s presented without an ounce of excitement, and culminates in an unfortunate bit of autotune.

It doesn’t help that the girls’ performance ranges between a chirp and a coo, sacrificing the kind of vocal dynamics that helped make April’s “Violeta” such a hit. They feel constrained by the material, which is both overlong and underdeveloped. The entire track pulses with a similar energy. Tinny synths explode every few moments, drenching the instrumental with a manic busyness. By the time the spiraling instrumental break hits just before the climax, it’s hard not to be exhausted. What could have been an edgy blast of dance pop wallows in a flat-lined structure that goes nowhere. Everybody involved could do so much better.

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