Tan Kee Yun
The New Paper
March 2, 2016
Ladies' Code's much-hyped return to the K-pop scene - and transition from quintet to trio - was never going to be easy.
The girl group was involved in a car crash in September 2014 that took the lives of two members, EunB and RiSe.
Contrary to the saying, time does not heal all wounds. Especially not when you have 290,000 followers on Facebook and 58,000 followers on Twitter who still idolise and miss your dead friends.
Ashley, Sojung and Zuny faced a conundrum. No matter what new material the gals brought to the table, things were just going to be a little weird.
If they decided to tread old ground and drop upbeat, cheery songs like their previous hits Kiss Kiss and Pretty Pretty, it could be interpreted as putting on a show of bravado and pretending nothing awful had happened.
Worse, it might invite gossip that they thought no more of their lost friends and had happily moved on.
If they decided to stick to sad, sentimental ballads as a sign of respect for their bandmates, it would be limiting - and very depressing - for their careers.
Thankfully, Ladies' Code did neither.
The girls' new mini album Mystery, released last week and available on iTunes, contains dark and brooding tunes that do not trip over into schmaltzy territory.
Lead single Galaxy, boasting haunting and ambient trip-hop beats, is an excellent piece of work, lyrically and visually.
While there are no direct references to the horrific accident that killed their pals, the girls boldly explore the idea of survivor's guilt.
The lyrics imagine the deceased calling out to them: "Hello I was waiting for you / Will you take me to the galaxy... Save me from the jealousy / Hi I was waiting for you / Will you pull me from the gravity".
In Galaxy's music video, there is a lingering sense that EunB and RiSe, though physically gone, will always spiritually be with the trio and their fans.
There is the deliberate use of only two back-up dancers, shots of an empty plate buried among a whole table of food and a lonesome image of a telephone fading to black.
I hope Ladies' Code top the charts or win an award or two with Mystery. They truly deserve it.