CLC are a group known for changing their style. Since their debut in 2015 with five members, their concepts have run the gauntlet from cute, to quirky, to fierce. And now back again? In many ways, yes. Their latest release, Devil, comes after a surge in international popularity thanks to releases such as ‘Hobgoblin’ and ‘No’. Yet the song doesn’t cling to these successes in order to try and push the group forward. Rather, sound takes much more influence from their debut ‘Pepe’, whilst letting the visuals of the music video do the work of showing off CLC’s various styles. And for that reason, it really works as something that feels unique to the group – an evolution instead of a repeat or 180.
To say that the song seems to take a lot of cues from ‘Pepe’ is not to say it’s a step backwards. Far from it. This might just be CLC’s most impressive, clean, and accomplished song to date. Their vocals sound fantastic. Of particular note is that key English line of “I tried to be so polite.” It’s drawn out, the vocals controlled yet powerful. It’s one of the key moments within the song that make it stand out.
But what really shines the most here is the chorus. Melodic, soaring, catchy… it hits all the right notes to be memorable and is a wonderfully welcome change to the more simplistic choruses seen in their songs with edgier concepts.
Devil isn’t afraid of giving some attitude, but it’s also not afraid of playing around a little too. The jazzy tone and almost funk rhythm never push too far into retro territory, the clean, crisp synth and production making it distinctly pop. As such, it also shies away from relying on any overused current trends. It will last much longer because of this, and it’s something that fans and the members alike will be grateful for in the years to come.
Lyrically, despite the change of pace in sound, the girls are just as outspoken as in the previous releases. The slight contrast between this and the upbeat tone make the song much more interesting sonically – and the little nod to ‘Black Dress’ is a fun tidbit for fans. This is backed up by the instrumentation, which sees a nice guitar riff at the centre and even some brass thrown in at the chorus. The instrumental never overwhelms the girls however; both the performance and track work well together, the music giving the space for the vocals to shine when needed, and vice versa.
What a journey this one is. From the opening alone, it can’t be helped thinking that the group has reversed its concept once again. Bright splashes of colour, cute and playful scenarios, quirkiness too. But then we get the darker scenes, ones much more reminiscent of the likes of Hobgoblin. Much of the colour is taken away here, but every shot still remains bold.
The styling of the girls reflects this too. They happily remain in a middle ground, switch colour for darkness according to scenes, yet never going too far in one direction or the other. The colourful outfits still retain the classiness that can be seen in the darker tones. Likewise, they never stray too far into the ‘girl crush’ archetype. There’s a sense of power and ownership over their image that this gives off, arguably making the group appear even more assured in their performance.
It truly looks and feels like CLC have come into their own with this comeback. Establishing their own sound, and pulling it off with confidence, is something few groups can claim to do. Going forward, if they keep playing to their strengths in this way, it’s easy to see them just getting better and better.