While I predominantly cover singles on here, I’ve always been an avid consumer of albums. More often than not, this results in some songs that I adore but others that I detest. As a remedy to this issue, we have Beast Sides! These songs put the Beast in B-side and are either stronger than their accompanying title track or songs that are just too solid to leave out.
The new Blackpink album, though varied continues to herald many of the common critiques and issues I’ve had with with their more recent efforts. Most of the songs are fine but few feel as genuinely unique or exciting as their best work. Hell, even the work of their peers. For a group that releases so infrequently yet receives so much fanfare, expectations are naturally always sky high. So when they’re not met, it can be quite disappointing. Pink Venom continues to grow into a surprisingly goofy highlight but the rest of the album including lead single Shut Down feel like a genuine bore. But amongst them is the surprisingly great disco-lite pop-rock hybrid of Hard to Love..
Rosé has always been one of K-pop’s more unique vocalists and while her solo efforts from last year failed to strike a chord with me, Hard to Love is the kind of material that I think her voice excels in. It’s laid back without feeling muddling or boring, propelled by a pulsating disco inspired beat that works great as a support to the more reserved melody and delivery, offering a great contrast that works in the tracks favour. The opening few seconds are great, shining full light on Rosé’s vocals, teasing the hook before the central guitar loop comes in. I love tracks that open with an interpolation of their chorus and though generic, Hard To Love pulls it off very well. It plays like a more simplistic interpolation of 2020’s outstanding Lovesick Girls mixed with 2016’s Playing with Fire. Two songs that I consider to be emblematic of the group at their absolute best.
And though much of the track traces along very familiar melodic lines, there’s a sense of comfort in simplicity. The oft repeated central guitar riff is incredibly catchy whilst also conveying a solid level of emotional pathos that Rosé does well to convey through her performance. Something which helps elevate Hard to Love into something really quite enjoyable. And though technically a solo track, I love Jisoo’s adlibs during the chorus. They add an extra layer to the production that really helps with the anthemic nature of the hook. And by the time the tracks climactic chorus rears its head, I’m already convinced that Rosé would thrive with an album full of tracks like this.
Final Rating: 8.5 / 10