Though often regarded as K-pop’s leading female act, it has almost become a rite of passage to approach every BLACKPINK comeback with a healthy sense of scepticism. Casual fans of the genre often bend to the loud, often addicting presentation of these tracks but those more jaded fans such as myself usually find them unpleasant at best. 2020’s Lovesick Girls acted as the exception to this rule however, boasting a rousing central melody and gorgeous arrangement to deliver one of that years strongest singles. A sound that I wished the girls would build upon with their following comeback. However, pre-release single Pink Venom retreats to the messy, unpleasant sounds of hits past, delivering yet another dud.
Following the sound crafted by previous singles Kill This Love and How You Like That, Pink Venom feels like the culmination of what many would consider the quintessential Blackpink sound. Loud, brash and unashamedly extra. It’s a description that sounds exciting but one that like those aforementioned tracks, is marred by a production that doesn’t know what to do with itself. The chorus, as usual, is the biggest example of this, giving us a mind numbingly repetitive hook that forgoes any sense of melody to create a centrepiece that feels anti-climactic in the worst way possible. Sure it’s catchy and pulls back instead of exploding unlike some of their other efforts but the entire construction and performance undercuts what could have been an interesting departure of a tried and true style.
The climax is similarly perplexing but to a much greater extent. In what might just be the groups worst final act, the track collapses into an incredibly grating “ratatata” chant for its final 30 seconds. And unlike their other tracks that attempt to go off on a high with an explosive finale, Pink Venom maintains a similar bpm and instrumentation that somehow manages to make the track feel more sluggish during its finale. It feels so incredibly lazy, something that’s become a hallmark of the groups recent singles but one that really comes to a head here.
But if anything, there are some bright spots to be found in Pink Venom‘s otherwise lacklustre brew. Lisa’s second verse is actually quite exciting, taking inspiration from 90’s gangsta rap to create what is easily Pink Venom‘s strongest few seconds. I would have loved to see this segment extended throughout the rest of the track. The traditional instrumentation that frames much of the verses is also an exciting production choice though it isn’t used as well or fully as I would have liked. But in the end, Pink Venom is your standard BLACKPINK hype track, encumbered by layers of noise that despite being a struggle to get though, will no doubt earn its admires through sheer fandom size alone. And though I would love to see another As if It’s Your Last, Playing With Fire or Lovesick Girls for their big September comeback, that dream is seemingly moving further and further out of reach.
Final Rating: 5 / 10