They’ve tried sexy, they’ve tried retro, and they’ve even clinched the title of summer queens. This time, Brave Girls are back to challenge themselves by taking on a new concept of sentimentalism in “After We Ride”. 

“After We Ride” is a clear sequel to “We Ride”. In “We Ride”, Brave Girls lament about a failing relationship. The lovers have nothing to talk about and they feel awkward while in a car together. Brave Girls tell their partner to simply concentrate on driving as they contemplate if they should part ways.

We have no words in this car

You’re just driving

I’m looking at my phone, you’re looking out the window

I’m so frustrated, I don’t know what to do about us, babe

Moving forward from “We Ride”, the deliberate use of the word ‘After’ in “After We Ride” is suggestive of a certain degree of change since their breakup. Whether this is a positive one or not is difficult to pinpoint as Brave Girls exhibit both the highs and lows after a breakup. 

Upon first look, the MV seems to mirror a coming-of-age film. Though they are way past their teenage years, Brave Girls embark on an emotional journey to piece themselves back together after calling it quits. In doing so, they experience a range of emotions: alienation, grief, and anger, but also happiness and liberation. 

A distinct change from their last few MVs, Brave Girls trudge through a handful of scenes in “After We Ride”. They appear in dimly lit places, namely a karaoke room, a bar, a washroom, a burger restaurant, on a rooftop, and in an open car park. The critical use of time here is highly noteworthy as shown through these carefully selected sets. The entire narrative takes place between the early hours of the night till the break of dawn. This is marked by Yuna and Minyoung’s opening scenes, the only ones captured in almost broad daylight. In doing so, it alludes to the fact that grief creeps up on them at the darkest hours of the day. At times like this, the setting cleverly reflects their inner feelings of loneliness, blurring the line between feeling okay and not okay. 

The quartet spend most of their time alone trying to untangle their own emotional knots. With that, the MV is void of a group shot as they deal with their post breakup miseries individually. In other words, this is telling of an important message: grief is personal. At the very most, we get Minyoung and Eunji walking together at the dead hours of the night on an overpass. Aside from that, they are alone.

With the Korean title aptly being 술버릇 (drinking habit), the MV tells a story of how the break up has affected Brave Girls to the point where they develop a self-destructive drinking habit. Essentially, they try to drink the pain away. Throughout the MV, Brave Girls find comfort in various types of alcohol. From Eunji sipping on a glass of wine, to Yujeong downing a bottle of beer, they drink it all. And of course, it is not alcohol without experiencing its effects. 

In case I annoy you, I hesitated hundreds of times with this phone call

But I’m borrowing some liquid courage

And making your phone ring once more

You know my habit but you’re so cold

Following the rhythm of the track, the MV opens with a fast-forwarded montage exhibiting the multiplicity of emotions that one feels after a breakup. Similarly, this mimics the overwhelming speed in which one can experience ups and downs while high on alcohol. One moment they appear happy, the next, they are not. In one scene, Minyoung and Eunji appear tipsy and are walking together in joy. Not long after, the nonlinearity of grief hits hard. Minyoung appears despairingly in the same outfit in a bar, with a drink in hand. 

Diving deeper, while looking back at their failed relationship causes their lows, alcohol manipulates their emotions, causing them to feel deceptively happy. Right off the bat, they confess that alcohol grants them the courage to call their ex lover. They miss the idea of being in a relationship as the feeling of loss is suddenly but intensely felt. Barred from the ability to think rationally, their regret sinks in belatedly. 

I tapped on your phone number drunkenly

By mistake, I tapped on call

I don’t remember, it’s what happens when I get drunk

When I open my eyes, I’m filled with regret

In the first half of the MV, the other members have somewhat of a balance between happy and sad scenes. In comparison, Yuna’s arc is particularly interesting as she lacks that balance. She enters a karaoke room, a place reminiscent of happier times. Yet, she stands there with a deadpan expression as she removes her orange wig that clearly does not fit her.

Plagued by grief, this marks her attempt at a new start through crafting a new image. However, she fails at actually doing so. Yuna soon realises that crafting a new facade will not change her on the inside if she is not true to herself to begin with. This scene in particular draws a parallel to two separate but related instances — One, drinking can change people into someone they won’t recognise, and two, how love and heartbreaks can also change someone. At other times, Yuna blankly stares while confetti falls on her, signalling that she is still heartbroken.

It’s over, I know this

But how can I forget all the days & nights we’ve had

You’re so bad, you know how much I’ll struggle without you

But you’ve gone missing for so long

On the other hand, when not reminiscing about their ex-lover, alcohol grants them momentary happiness through the night. Yujeong dances happily in an empty burger restaurant. Minyoung prances on the streets alone, roller skates beside a pool (a reference to “Pool Party”) and jams on her guitar. Eunji has fun hanging out with Minyoung. Returning to Yuna’s narrative, it can be said that she is the only one who focuses on actively changing herself. This would explain why Yuna lacks happy moments in the MV, except when she truly feels liberated when removing her orange wig yet again at the end. This time, she does so with confidence and a genuine smile on her face.

At the end of the day, Brave Girls learn that true liberation is when you embrace the new you. Closing off on a hopeful note, Yujeong writes, “You are brave” as a reminder to herself to be brave and fearless. Similarly, when Eunji burns her bouquet of flowers and walks away, she is putting the past behind her. As for Minyoung, while her liberation is unclear, she appears to be on her way there. In short, Brave Girls have significantly moved on. 

This is what grief looks like. It is nonlinear and personal, freeing yet entrapping. While Brave Girls’ heavy reliance on alcohol is a momentary drug, rediscovering oneself eventually releases them from their post break up grief. Brave Girls deserve big kudos for the successful switch up from their previous light-hearted comebacks. 

(YouTube. Lyrics via Color Coded Lyrics, Kgasa. Images via Brave Entertainment.)