Nature is one of those groups that have a great deal of potential, but can never quite seem to get that big breakthrough. They picked up quite a bit of steam in their first couple of years, mainly due to their surprisingly pointed MVs for tracks such as “I’m So Pretty” and “Girls”, but member changes, hiatuses, and cultural appropriation left them in a downturn that not even recruiting I.B.I member Sohee could fix. Their latest comeback, though, looked to be a return to form for Nature, a slick electronia piece that benefits from their sardonic and pointed vocals. Sadly, “Limbo!” is a case of a comeback where all the pieces align except one, and the one that does not fit is the dead center of everything. Undercutting the entire comeback is a single, brutal fact.
The limbo is not sexy.
The limbo is a bizarre cross of party game and 50s dance craze. It has survived to the modern day as a bastion of children’s birthday entertainment, and the two absolutes that come from a round of limbo are that it is extremely awkward to perform and nobody looks good doing it. Which makes the decision to use the limbo as the centerpiece of a dark and sensual song and MV utterly baffling.
“Limbo!”, as a whole, sees Nature take on the role of femme fatales. The MV is not just dark, but luxurious, placing an equal emphasis on the glamour of Nature’s environment and the threats implied by the members. There is a great deal of emphasis placed on Nature’s hands, and thus fingernails, which have been sharpened and shaped into talons. They are frequently shot lying prone, but it does not convey weakness or defeat. Instead, the way Nature interacts with the camera shows them as toying with their audience. They are playacting at submission in an attempt to lure men into their trap, but they are not very good at it. Yet, that element of clear danger only serves to make Nature more appealing.
The song perfectly matches the tone of the MV. It is a dark electronica dance track that is overflowing with blatant seduction. Nature’s vocals, airy and breathless with an undercurrent of nonchalant confidence, only enhance the noir-esque sensuality of the track. The result is a perfect storm of temptation, luxury, power, sex, and danger that captivates the audience.
…Right up until the limbo comes in full force and perplexes the audience right out of their haze. The centerpiece of the choreography is the actual limbo, which certainly is a choice. As stated above, nobody looks good doing the limbo, and Nature is no exception. It does not matter how haughty your expression or appealing your wardrobe; if you are hopping along with your back bent at an uncomfortable angle and trying to not get smacked in the face three times, you are not attracting anybody.
The track only makes it worse. It is explicitly clear that Nature’s primary tool of seduction is the limbo. Not only does one not look good doing it, but it’s also not particularly sexy to perform. This is not the passion of a tango, the closeness of a waltz, or even the primal sexuality of grinding. It is a dance designed to be done one by one in a large group. There is nothing sexy about doing the limbo all night. The repeated bizarre lapses into a sped-up Eurodance version of “Limbo!” are the cherry on top of this bizarre sundae, as the sensual, seedy vibe is the track’s saving grace, and the altered versions neither fit the song nor sound good.
Normally, a single element being off is not enough to damage a comeback, especially if the rest of the parts of the song and MV are good enough to compensate for it. And make no mistake, almost every aspect of “Limbo!” hits it out of the park. Nature are perfect as the femme fatales, mixing ego, intimidation, and playfulness into a heady combination that captivates on camera and in vocals. The song is perfect for their voices, letting them use their upper registers and breathier vocals without resorting to a childish concept. The MV carries it home with a glitzy, decadent world that seems to have danger oozing from every corner, on the strength of Nature’s performances. However, all of these elements direct the audience back to the limbo, which does not mesh with anything else to such a degree that it is the only thing you can notice.
It seems strange to say that without the limbo, “Limbo!” would be a home run. But alas, here we are. It overshadows everything else about the comeback. Nature’s charisma, their vocals, and the truly impressive set design are all pushed aside in order to focus on a sole aspect that truly and utterly does not belong in this comeback, even if it is the centerpiece.
(YouTube. Images via n.CH Entertainment)