Having lost four of the eight members since their last album, the now-ironically titled girl group Nine Muses have made their anticipated comeback with Identity. Identity, a six track EP, is the second entry to the Diary series the girls started last August, and proves to be an extensive blending of shadowy sounds sure to distinguish the girls from the current wave of neon cuteness overruling the K-girl group scene.
Identity’s magnificently theatrical opener “Identity” crams as many musical motifs as possible into its one minute duration, and ultimately serves as a seamless transition into Identity’s title track “Remember”.
“Remember” is, in the same vein as their hit 2015 ballad “Can’t Sleep, Am Hungry,” a stormy bop which lyrically deals with the pain that torments you after escaping a relationship gone wrong. “On the road without anyone, I am alone with you / I’m waiting for you,” KyungRi hopelessly hums over the initial dangerous, subdued guitar melodies of “Remember”. The production quickly picks up with KyungRi’s high-pitched roars to “love me, love me, love me, love me, love me,” as Hyemi and Keumjo join in with their own agonizing declarations of heartbreak. The build up to “Remember”’s chorus is certainly satisfying; “Remember” has a thundering, theatrical chorus with a thumping, crashing beat and yowling synths. Rapper Sojin’s contributions to “Remember” are particularly mesmerizing, especially with the layering of her murmuring raps over angst-ridden electric guitar wails. “Remember” is another truly enthralling track by Nine Muses, who have consistently released impeccable bops since their 2010 debut – a miraculous feat, especially considering K-pop’s sky-high turnover rates.
With its sunny vocals and bright, dulcet chorus, “Pastry” is a lot softer in comparison to the track it follows, “Remember”. “Two People,” the fourth track on Identity, is vastly more adventurous in its production; wobbly, 80s-style synth hits are rooted within delicate Rhodes, bleeping synth tunes and a piercing, utterly unforgettable hook. It’s an immaculate return to top form for Nine Muses, harkening back to the glory days of their Sweet Rendezvous EP in 2012.
Final track “Hate Me” sounds quite romantic and tender at first, due to its rosy sounds. However, the production swiftly takes a mystifying turn; bittersweet strings lacquer the moody electric guitars and acoustic drums, evoking a hazy, late summer evening. “I hate me, I won’t miss you / I don’t need you here tonight,” the girls perplexingly ponder, as the production’s whirring organ melodies fade out.
“Hate Me” is actually an appropriate bookend to Identity’s whirlwind of genres and eclectic sounds. It’s a whirlwind which audiences have enjoyed being caught up in since Nine Muses pummeled their way onto the K-pop scene with the pumping “No PlayBoy” seven years ago; Identity is, essentially, the glorious refresher of Nine Muses’ identity we needed.