In 2017, CLC made a switch in their concept to a fierce, edgy girl crush style with "Hobgoblin." Though "Hobgoblin" was a hit among international K-pop fans, sadly, it didn’t bring them a rise to stardom locally. Their next comeback was retro R&B soul track Where are you now?
, a song that I personally really love, but they probably should have continued with a powerful concept. Following last year's Black Dress
, the girls are finally back with stylish music in new album No.1
"Red lip? No. Earrings? No. High heels? No. Handbag? No." Their synth-bass dance number No starts in quite an impactful way by addressing the theme straight on; don't ever limit them to a certain preconception – they love themselves and will do what they like. This part is repeated at least three times over the whole three minutes and Seung Yeon's vocal tone makes this track especially addictive! Ye Eun's rap is chic as always while Sorn's voice suits this single the most among the vocalists. At the last bridge part, the lyrics are slightly changed: "Heels? No. Perfume? No. Handbag? No. Make up? No. Pure? No. Sexy? No. Aegyo? No. Acting nice? No." No came under the spotlight for its lyrics rejecting beauty ideals and stereotypes, and the song is even considered a "feminist anthem" by netizens.
It is undeniable that CLC has established a strong style this time, both in music and their group concept. It's a pity that Eun Bin does not have many parts in No, but considering her voice is so cute and lovely, the line distribution is somehow understandable. Now guess who produced this amazing song? It's CLC's labelmate So Yeon of the promising rookie group (G)I-DLE. This is very impressive and I'm looking forward to (G)I-DLE's next comeback too!
The closing track of the album, I Need U, is surprisingly an all English song. Retro elements and house rhythms are mixed into the tropical house-based melody, bringing out a refreshing vibe and the adorable side of CLC. If you miss their Pepe and High Heels eras, this cute heart-fluttering plug can bring back memories of the sweet "crystal clear" girls.
Besides No, electropop plug SHOW and Like It show strong beats and a girl crush style that totally reminds me of Black Dress. These two songs both give off the feeling that they were probably title track candidates for this comeback. R&B pop track "Breakdown" is the only soft and slow song in No.1. The style and tune blend well with the velvety voices of vocalist members Seung Hee, Elkie, Yu Jin and Sorn. Because of Seung Yeon's strong impression in No, I almost forgot that she is actually a vocalist of the group until I heard her leading off the track in her charismatic voice.
From Pepe to No, CLC truly suits every music style they have ever tried. Their songs are not only catchy but also stylish and full of charm. Hopefully, the album title No.1 can bring them good luck on being one of a kind in the K-pop industry. Bop or flop? It's a definite bop to me!