Ever since their debut in 2018, (G)I-DLE have been heavily involved in creating their songs, more often than not taking complete control of their output. On ‘Heat’, their debut English-language EP, that all changes. There’s not a single credit for the members here, with the record built by a raft of different songwriters and producers, Ryan Tedder and Meghan Traitor among them.
While self-producing your music doesn’t automatically make it better, there has been a consistency to the girl group’s catalogue so far that comes from being spearheaded by them. ‘Heat’ has its moments where their DNA comes close to being recreated but, for the most part, it lacks the spark that comes from (G)I-DLE’s own lyrical and musical input.
The five songs that make up the EP are perfectly fine – some of them even fun. Lead single ‘I Want That’ is a camp Euro-dance banger, propelled by a slick bassline and a chorus that simultaneously sounds like it means everything and nothing at all. “I want that oh my, oh my, OMG / I want that right now, no you and me,” they sing. “I want that oui merci, no c’est la vie.” It’s not worlds away from something you could see them creating themselves.
‘Tall Trees’, the record’s closing track and other close call to a true (G)I-DLE moment, takes things in another direction. Over a soft, glittering stomp, the five members compare themselves to the titular trees, shooting up thanks to the attention of a special someone. “My expectations, they are low / But you’re the sun, you make them grow,” they sing, voices sounding phenomenally on point. “If there’s an axe behind your bed, just let me know / ‘Cause tall trees fall hard, hard, hard, hard.”
The rest of ‘Heat’ feels less like it belongs in (G)I-DLE’s sonic universe. The glacial melancholy of ‘I Do’ is pretty enough and the members do a great job of conveying the despair at the heart of the song. But, unfortunately, there’s nothing unique about the song and it sounds like any number of artists could sing it without it being jarring.
‘Flip It’ will likely cause commotion among fans thanks to Shuhua’s appearance as a rapper and seems certain to be the most divisive track on this EP. Some will love it, others – including NME – will find it a cringe checklist of girl boss clichés and triteness. “My crew so hot and you are not / I love it when they stare” goes one such line, which comes between an avalanche of boasts about private jets, diamonds, doing what they want and pulling a “boss girl flex”. At the very least, the beat serves – even if it is doing all the heavy lifting here.
Fortunately, ‘Eyes Roll’ fares much better. It’s urgent and insistent, signalling the start of a dancefloor emergency – that you need to get on one instantly. Cool and supremely confident, it finds (G)I-DLE in empowering, dominant form, casually but convincingly declaring someone “a work of art, she can break your heart”. As they continue their description of this woman, they toy with their audience. “She can fuck you up, but you love that part,” they tease. “She gon’ make your eyes roll back.”
If (G)I-DLE’s foray into English releases is an experiment, then it’s one that ends up with mixed results. While it would have been interesting to hear how the group’s identity manifested in a record more obviously aimed at the international market, ‘Heat’ still packs in some fun moments, even if it doesn’t add too much to the band’s story.
- Release date: October 6, 2023
- Record label: CUBE Entertainment, 88rising