underwater (lethality); kwon eunbi

oct 14 2022

Well, Kwon Eunbi's "Underwater" has finally been released, as well as her third mini album Lethality. I was never into IZ*ONE, but Eunbi's solo work caught my eye immediately. I think she has a really gorgeous, smooth, capable voice, and through no fault of her own unfortunately was overshadowed/outsang in IZ*ONE. As a soloist, she's been getting excellent composers and producers that help her stand out from the batch of post-IZ*ONE soloists. Door was immediately gripping, the catchy chorus mixing well with Eunbi's slick vocals, and "Glitch" was even better, dipping her toes into a more experimental sound. The Colors EP in general was fantastic; a nice blend of genres and sounds while still maintaining a cohesive sound.

All in all, it's not surprising to me that there has to be one miss in a discography full of hits. Underwater is just... underwhelming, especially compared to her previous work. The song doesn't grow or evolve and the chorus isn't catchy to me. This song (and this mini album and general) are trying to fit a specific purpose; to show how mature Eunbi can be. I think it achieves that, but kind of forgets to be an actual good song in the process. It's not a BAD song, but it's just not something I really love and it's ultimately forgettable. It's something I won't come back to the same way I come back to "Door" and "Glitch."

The album is not quite as good as Colors was, either; it lacks the cohesiveness that Colors really nailed. Lethality starts out strong: I like "Croquis" and think it's probably the only song from this album I'll consistently come back to (it reminds me a lot of Glitch in the way it's able to be catchy without being overbearing). While I like the weirdness of Simulation and what the track is trying to do, it pains me to say that its chorus is the only time I've ever thought Eunbi sounded kind of... bad. It's either something with the mixing or she's straining to hit the notes in the chorus. The chorus is very piercing; it doesn't sound quite as bad to me as the chorus to something like Fromis_9's "DM", but it still makes me wince and hold my throat. Eunbi has a very clear voice, so it could be that this isn't her straining at all; just going a bit too hard with her head voice. I usually never, EVER say this, but she needed to be a bit breathier on this chorus. "Flash" is good too, if a little predictable and laid back, and "Hi" finishes off the album in a decidedly "eh" way. The song seems like it's going in a really interesting, experimental direction before giving up and collapsing into one of those Kpop-rock songs that feels like it doesn't succeed at being a good Kpop song OR a good rock song. It also feels out of place on this album, which isn't great for the closing song.

The highs on this album are high; I really do love "Croquis" and think it's one of my favorite bsides (or songs, period) this year. But the lows are... honestly not that bad. It's mid, which is honestly meaner than if I just called it bad. A lot of people like bad songs; few people like mediocre songs. Eh, like I said, I don't think it's a bad album, I think it's well produced, I just think it's not to my taste and doesn't live up to her previous releases. Maybe it's just my soft spot for Eunbi speaking, but I don't think this is a horrible album or her nail in the coffin. I'm still excited to see what she does next. I think I knew almost immediately from the teasers that this was going to be worse, or at least more boring, than "Glitch." And it was, but that's okay! I'll just wait and see what she does next time.

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