One of the biggest selling points on (G)I-DLE to me has been their ability to consistently create atmospheric albums dripping with that Old Magic sort of feminine energy. They stand out from other girl groups with their ability to blend danceable pop music with an almost saturnine mood–two things that seem as if they wouldn’t really work well together, but are strung up effortlessly with the help of Soyeon’s impressive songwriting.
(G)I-DLE once again brings that atmospheric groove with “I burn,” and I thought pretty highly of it myself. Here are my initial thoughts, track by track.
HANN (Alone in Winter)
Taking its namesake from my personal all-time favorite (G)I-DLE track, HANN (Alone), HANN (Alone in Winter) seems to stand in lyrical parallel against its first iteration. While HANN seemed to recognize the end of a relationship to the point of shoving the subject out of their lives even if it hurts, HANN (Alone in Winter) seems to deal with embracing the fallout of such breakup. It brings to mind the feeling of looking back on a fight and regretting how things played out, or realizing you still love someone who you were so sure you hated at the time.
The album opens with a minor chord progression on piano, instantly setting the standard for the rest of the equally as moody and almost gloomy album. The imagery used in the lyrics paints a rather vivid and evocative winter scene, one whose imagery is easy to equate to an equally as barren, cold life without their lover.
Typical subject matter, sure, but the delivery and the expressive melody does a good job of embodying the feeling of loneliness by trapping it in its notes. The progression of the song continues on with little in the way of a chorus and even lacks that tell-tale “drop” in a pop song.
To me, this leaves the track to feel like it could go on endlessly without any big break or climax–something that I think everyone has felt at some point or another when dealing with heartbreak that is so fresh it feels like it won’t ever end.
Even with its slow start, it wouldn’t be a (G)I-DLE album without a song that’s easy to groove to, and HWAA reminds us of that fact on only the second track into the album. This mid-tempo tune features a moombahton-style beat which carries the first verse into the pre-chorus and is then revisited in the remaining choruses to keep the beat flowing. It’s a solid choice as the single for the album, capturing (G)I-DLE’s sound and overall tone pretty well for any new listeners just stumbling upon them.
MOON kicks off with delicate percussion highlighting Minnie’s vocals but soon gives way to melodic synths to keep the beat of the song. It’s a nice mid-point for the album and I think it’s smart to place it there as it doesn’t really stand out all that much against the other tracks.
Where is Love
After those groovy three, Where is Love marches in to lift the mood of the album. It does so from the moment the drum machine kicks up until the energetic pre-chorus. From there, it leads to the climactic center with a drum roll that explodes into a synth-heavy, powerful chorus–not unlike the kind of build up you’d experience in the middle of a sweaty EDM festival, pressed in between someone who smells like really cheap beer and another person who smells like really stale cheap beer while the DJ hypes up the crowd.
…but this is (G)I-DLE we’re talking about here, so of course it’s much classier than that.
I feel about LOST the way I feel about MOON: I like it, but it doesn’t really stand out to me against the stronger songs on the album. Soyeon’s verse adds the color that it needs to keep it from fading entirely into the background as a skippable tune, so, yay, Soyeon. Maybe I just need to listen a few more times. We’ll see.
Maybe I’m a little biased (even though Minnie isn’t even my bias), but any song that leads in with Minnie’s vocals is pretty much guaranteed to be a favorite of mine. Somehow even the texture of Minnie’s voice is atmospheric on its own, and its presence in this chill track manages to give it that “wandering-around-a-snowy-street-surrounded-by-dead-trees” vibe all on its own before you even consider the rest of the track.
That is all to say that this final track on the album does a good job recapturing the mood of the first, bringing those chilly wintry vibes full circle. It provides a nice clean up to the album and makes it feel like a complete package.
Overall, I think (G)I-DLE’s team did a good job of releasing this album when they did. I’m just gonna be frank… the world is really fucking weird right now and I think everyone can vibe with the themes of loneliness and isolation both in the mood of the music and the imagery that the lyrics conjure up.
Close your eyes and stream I burn and I’m sure you’ll find yourself standing in the middle of some vast snowy landscape where the blanket of snow has muted the world around you, and you just feel really… alone. Or, you feel really HANN (Alone in Winter), as it were.