IVE’s I Am remains a triumphant 2023 highlight, raising expectations for how the group’s music will evolve. Their new EP will be out in a matter days, and we’ve now heard two of its tracks. Pre-release Either Way wasn’t designed to be a knock-your-socks-off showpiece, but even within its genre I found the song pretty dull. Off The Record doesn’t do much to elevate that feeling.
This year, we’ve had baskets and buckets and crates and barges of songs like this — pleasant, generic and completely shaved of its edges. Off The Record is well-made but far from interesting or ear-catching. And when we know what IVE are capable of at their best, the track feels like a b-side that never really needed a music video.
File Off The Record under: “songs that would very much like to be Fifty Fifty’s Cupid.” With that template in mind, the track equates itself well. Its groove is light and unobtrusive, borrowing a hint of city pop but smoothing it over with easy listening radio fluff. The girls sound good, though Off The Record doesn’t give them much to do. Echoing the production, their vocals feel a bit weightless, going through the motions rather than sinking their teeth into the performance. The one exception occurs during the brief bridge, where the track sounds as if it’s about to bound into an interpolation of The Cardigans’ Lovefool. Now, wouldn’t that have been cool?