2019 has been a rough year for K-pop. It’s only motivated me to write a review, one way or the other, a handful of times in the past few months as we’ve just been consistently inundated with an impressive array of meh. Granted, part of that is me being a lazy asshole, but it’s definitely been one of the harshest years in K-pop so far that I can recall.
Enter CLC, who have been on a tear since 2018 began. Starting with the “To The Sky” pre-release for their “Black Dress” comeback, the Cube Entertainment girl group have yet to miss on a single and have filled their albums out with interesting B-sides to boot. I’m not sure what made Cube suddenly give a shit about them and turn them around from neglected and forgettable to consistent and eminently interesting, but the investment has definitely paid off, and “Devil” continues to show that.
The core elements of “Devil” are incredible and it was difficult for it to go astray once they had that installed. The instrumental is centered around a funky guitar riff that sets a groovy foundation that chugs at an upbeat pace (keyboard loop was nice understated inclusion as well) and builds to their best chorus yet that included beautifully implemented brass elements. While I’ve appreciated their attitude-driven songs as much as anybody, this is melodic bliss that’s highlighted by a chorus that doesn’t so much have a hook as it does just have a wholly catchy refrain. The vocal heaviness of “Devil” was definitely a surprise given the way they were trending, but they managed to imbue their words with similar attitude as before while executing the vocals impressively. Perhaps nothing proves that more than what’s likely to be the most memorable line (at least internationally) of “I tryyy to be so polite” in the vocal focused pre-chorus.
Of course, because I enjoyed those elements so much, it would be hard to go away from them and see it as an improvement. Such was the case with the switch-up for the rap verse with trap elements, which I felt paused the exhilaration of hearing the chorus for the first time. Additionally, the bridge could’ve been better executed. Either take it down another notch (or cut out the instrumental entirely) before cranking the chorus back up to 10 or just keep things chugging at a million miles an hour, but instead the producers opted for something in between that was good but not great.
Those two issues pale in comparison to the rest of the song, however, as they are only noteworthy because of how high the song took me for the majority of it. As much as I enjoy “Devil” now it feels like a release that’ll hold up as the year goes by and their careers progress, mainly because it seems like the next step for them, coming with less overt in-your-face attitude and instead putting that into the lyrics (a ‘don’t bring the devil out of me’ kinda thing) while going into a more melodic direction. It’s as if they’ve already proven their point about who they are as a group now and can now do bigger and better.
“Devil” is sort of a merging of their distant past and their recent past to surprisingly quality results that could pave the way forward. While time will tell if “Devil” is more evolution or detour, either way it is a standout addition to their discography and CLC manage to keep me looking out for where they’re going to go next.
TheBiasList enjoyed it, labeling it irresistible but believing it could’ve been more ambitious.