Song Review: ‘After Like’ by IVE

IVE is the rookie girl group to watch. Despite only possessing 6 songs under their discography, pretty much every song has been a hit. Eleven was an incredibly solid debut that still holds up over time, and Love Dive was a very strong follow up, even earning them their first PAK (perfect all kill) in the Korean charts. They had extremely high expectations to fulfill, and they have only continued to deliver.

After Like begins abruptly, which forces you to focus on the song to find out what is going on. The intro instrumental was not even 4 seconds, but seeing how the song unfolds, I now realize that it helps set the song’s fast pace. The verses feel propulsive and purposeful, moving the song along with a catchy rhythm. The production here has just the right amount of energy to maintain its upbeat feeling, not pulling all its cards just yet.

It quickly moves into an excellent pre-chorus, which lathers Liz and Yujin’s voices with a certain kind of vocal effect that is quite addicting to listen to, especially on Liz. Her voice here really draws me in, and paired with the amazing melody, it is hard to not be swept up into the song at this point.

The chorus is so stupid. Who gave it the right to be so catchy? Since the first listen, it has not left my head. The catchphrase, ‘What’s, after like?’, is very easy to remember, and the rhythm they have established in the beginning still remains quite similar in the chorus, tying the sections together, giving the song a nice sense of unity. The chorus further builds by exploding into a beautiful instrumentation, sampling the classic ‘I will survive’ by Gloria Gaynor. With such an iconic melody and instrumentation to elevate the chorus, it is no surprise that it ended up aging extremely well. ‘I will survive’ still sounds as good as ever today, and I surely expect the same as After Like’s chorus. It is just too good.

The second verse and pre-chorus maintain the same strengths of the first, and gives the audience more time to digest the melody, especially when listening to it for the first time. Honestly, I’m glad they did not change it too much because the fact that the song feels so fast-paced makes it difficult to hang on to the melodic lines on just one listen, so I highly approve of this choice. Once more, whatever vocal effect is slathered on the pre-chorus is chef’s kiss. It is a perfect stylistic choice that simply elevates the listener experience.

If there is any part of the song which falters a bit, I would say that it would be the rap section. Honestly speaking, when I first listened to it, I was extremely thrown off, especially in the second half. This is because Gauel’s flow isn’t smooth as Rei’s, which led her to have imperfect timing with the instrumentation. This made the adlib that was layered on the top of the last few seconds of her rap feel so awkward. I think her rapping needs some work, and it was my main pet peeve at first listen. I got used to with more listens, but I still actively try to not pay too much attention in that part so I won’t get annoyed. Rei did a great job on the first half, being the main rapper of the group and simply being more skillful. I think that Gaeul may be better off getting more vocal lines because I absolutely loved her voice and vocal delivery in the second pre-chorus. The way she enunciated her line was so different from the other girls which made her stand out. It is honestly one of my favorite parts of the song. If I had to pick my most favorite vocal parts of the song, it would probably be Liz’s Pre-chorus, Gaeul’s pre-chorus, and Wonyoung’s chorus part. It is the first time in an IVE song which I really appreciated Gaeul’s part, so I do hope she gets more lines in the future.

Although IVE are not technical vocalists, their stylistic choices elevate the song’s quality. The way certain members such as Gauel (who I’ve already mentioned) emphasize their parts just make the song so nice to come back to, having that particular part to look forward to. This is why I put so much emphasis on vocal delivery, because if I can’t remember how exactly a k-pop artist sung the vocal part, it makes it much more likely that I will forget the song over time, or at least, not come back to it. I have kept coming back to this song, I expect that it will continue to be the case.

Anyways, all in all, After Like is one of my favorite comebacks of the year and is an easy song of the year candidate. It is only growing stronger over time, and I can’t wait to see where it will be by the end of the year. I will be highly looking forward to whatever IVE comes up next. On a side note, My Satisfaction, the sole b-side of the album, is an absolute banger as well. I just thought that I should give it a shout out even if I won’t make a review of it.

Hooks – 10
Production – 10
Vocal Delivery – 10
Rap delivery – 8
Overall – 9.5

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