Le Sserafim – ANTIFRAGILE | Review


Photo By Rafika Khan

Two ANTIFRAGILE albums are lined up on the ground. The album surpassed 600,000 pre-ordered copies before its release on Oct. 17, 2022.

     Almost six months after their debut mini-album, titled FEARLESS, the South Korean girl group Le Sserafim returned in October 2022 with their much-awaited sophomore album, ANTIFRAGILE. The quintet – whose name is an anagram of the words “I’m fearless” – stayed bold and courageous with their latest songs, like their confident debut track, but didn’t hesitate to show vulnerability. As one of the most thriving rookie acts in the K-pop scene, Le Sserafim pleased critics and fans alike and proved they were living up to their name with ANTIFRAGILE.

     The first track, The Hydra, is the album’s introduction. In the bass-heavy song with hypnotic chants of “I am antifragile” in the background, the group members declare that they will not falter in the face of a challenge. With each member repeating the lines in their native Korean, English and Japanese languages, the lyrics affirm their convictions and seamlessly blend into the title track, ANTIFRAGILE. The Afro-Latin pop number bursts with energy and strong beats. Unlike the smooth and cool FEARLESS, ANTIFRAGILE is fiercely confident, and its lyrics are personal, despite not being written by the members. Sub-vocalist Kazuha Nakamura sings, “Don’t forget my pointe shoes I left behind,” in the pre-chorus, referring to her 15 years as a professional ballerina. The two eldest and ex-members of the girl group IZ*ONE, Chaewon Kim and Sakura Miyawaki, add that their past experiences have only made them more passionate, singing, “Don’t underestimate the path I’ve walked.” ANTIFRAGILE conveys the group’s message of advancing without fear because they will not break. It’s an intense and fiery song and cements their status as one of the top rookie groups in South Korea.

     Following ANTIFRAGILE is Impurities, an R&B track co-written by vocalist Yunjin Huh. Refreshing and languid, Le Sserafim embraces their flaws and wears them with pride, with Huh singing, “Covered in scars that are hard opaque / So natural, beautiful,” in the first verse. With this B-side spending nearly as many weeks on music charts as the title track, it is a song that is undoubtedly comforting to some. While it is much more laidback than the powerful ANTIFRAGILE, Impurities keeps the listener hooked on the album and leaves them wanting more.

ANTIFRAGILE albums come with a CD, poster, booklet, stickers and a random photo card of a Le Sserafim member. Three versions of the album were released with the contents inside matching their themes. (Photo By Rafika Khan)

     The fourth track, titled No Celestial, shows Le Sserafim letting go of any personas to be their flawed selves honestly. Their first pop-punk song, No Celestial is rebellious and rejects the unrealistic expectations placed on the group and their peers by the K-pop industry. Huh declares, “Just wanna live a real life / Listen to my honest voice,” in the chorus, and Kim follows it up with, “I’m no freakin’ angel / I’m no freakin’ goddess, I’m just being me,” in the post-chorus. The song is guitar-heavy and spirited and follows the mini-album’s theme of accepting one’s imperfections and continuing to go forward. Also co-written by Huh, No Celestial is delivered passionately by the group in a playful but defiant way.

     The album closes out with the sweetly-sung Good Parts (when the quality is bad but I am), which Huh and Miyawaki co-wrote. The track speaks of wanting to love yourself even when nothing is going right. Miyawaki and the group’s youngest member, Eunchae Hong, lament, “I just wanna love myself / When I’m good or bad, love my weakness / Contrary to fancy expectations / Even if it doesn’t look decent, find the good parts, the good parts,” in the chorus. The song’s raw and vulnerable lyrics are relatable and simple, showing the girls accepting who they are in their darkest moments. It ends the mini-album on a light, heartfelt note as Le Sserafim goes toward better and brighter days.

     ANTIFRAGILE lives up to the meaning behind Le Sserafim’s name as the group fearlessly continues its journey and embraces its imperfections. The record’s relatable songs span multiple genres and can appeal to people from all walks of life, as wanting to be one’s true self is not a unique struggle. Le Sserafim made an impactful first comeback with this mini-album and only has more promising days ahead.