Among the ever-growing legion of K-pop girl groups, Ladies’ Code are one of the few groups defined not by their music but by circumstances. Bringing up the infamous car accident that turned this former quintet into a trio feels like a disservice to the great songs that they’ve released since, but likewise it’s unavoidably the very thing that defines Ladies’ Code. They’re one of the few groups who, despite not being that much older than the current crop, can convey gravitas and poignancy.
This ability has worked to their behalf. Comeback singles such as “Galaxy” and “The Rain” stand out as some of the best K-pop’s had to offer in this decade and display a maturity most girl groups require the trauma of breaking up to even approach. Think of Girls’ Generation, a group with a decade of hits under their belt but any emotions beyond ‘happiness’ would feel unnatural or downright unnerving from them. Yet by that same right, given how much of K-pop opts for sugary sweetness, it’s understandable why the later period of Ladies’ Code hasn’t been rewarded outside of their dedicated fanbase. In a field where escapism runs rampant, why would you ever want to know you’re allowed to feel forlorn?
The latest single from Ladies’ Code, “Feedback” seems to recognize this and moves the girls forward while revisiting their past. Whereas “Galaxy” & “The Rain” showcased the girls through expressionistic dream-worlds of esoteric imagery (a possible forebearer of the more eclectic videos by Red Velvet, GWSN, and LOONA), the visuals to “Feedback” are deliberately self-reflexive. They nod to nostalgia, fitting alongside the disco-soul tinged number that likewise harkens back to the group’s early sound on singles such as “Bad Girl” and “Pretty Pretty”.
Produced by 1 Take & TAK (known for producing a wide range of material for the likes of Wanna One, INFINITE and Lovelyz), the throwback vibes compliment the R&B-leaning Ladies’ Code with their distinct voices, and work to maintain their air of bravery while dispelling some of the grim stoicism. An odd comparison, but it’s reminiscent of the 2017 S.E.S. single “Paradise” in which veterans (though obviously without comparable legacies) are able to embrace the future with a maturity and self-comfort that carries the song further than most groups could ever commit to. Given it’s been two years since the previous Ladies’ Code single, let us hope that we’re not destined for a similar wait for new material, as this trio have proven time and time again that they deserve to not only be one of the most enduring and respected girl groups of the decade but one we should absolutely cherish.