What do Twice and Nazi Germany have in common? A failed global expansion.
This is a bit of a long review, so strap your seatbelts, we in for a fancy rollercoaster ride.
So, before I talk about the album, please allow me to give a little bit of a background. Twice's musical evolution throughout the past 5 years has been fascinating to say the least. From the start, catapulting into the top of the Korean music scene with over-the-top fluffy concepts that include Likey, TT, Knock Knock through 2016 to 2018 (Likey still stands as one of the best pop songs ever), and after a swift transitional period with less-fluffy but still pretty wholesome concepts like What Is Love? in 2018, of course, awaiting them is the process every cutesy-girl group and I have to go through, maturation. Fancy You, Feel Special were EPs in 2019 that were argubably their magnum opuses (if magnum opus is countable), and as all cute-concept girl groups will be doubted of their actual ability in their changeover, Twice reminded everyone why they were at the top of the game for such a long time. And, I absolutely loved the transformation. Feel Special and Fancy You are some of my favorite K-Pop records.
After dominating the Korean scene for so long, Twice set their eyes on the global market. Their recent attempt, More & More, while wasn't necessarily bad, there were signs that Twice was trying to appease the international audience, with the Zara Larsson-like title track, latin-inspired Firework, Western-styled bop Make Me Go etc. And let me tell you, some of these tracks weren't good. In my opinion, they bit more than they can chew.
So, coming to this album, I was quite worried that they would continue heading towards this direction, as their record deal with the Republic Records showed no signs of stopping.
And my worries became true. Well, at least for me. It's ambitious to say the least, as this is their first full-length LP in 3 years.
This album is quite a mess. Twice hops from genre to genre in the 13-track list. Here's the different inspirations of styles I can find:
1. Latin pop: Hell In Heaven (Track 2), Go Hard (Track 8)
2. Electronic: Believer (Track 6), Do What We Like (Track 4), Depend On You (Track 11), Bring It Back (Track 5)
3. Disco: I Can't Stop Me (Track 1), Up No More (Track 3)
4. K-R&B: Handle It (Track 10)
5. Pop: Queen (Track 7), Behind The Mask (Track 13)
6. c i t y p o p: Say Something (Track 12)
Like, lads, what are y'all trying to achieve here? Which direction are we heading? This album just confuses me. Some might call this diverse, and good for them if they enjoy it, but isn't this a concept album? Tracks here are supposed to resonate. At least if the songs are going to be diverse, they could perhaps put the similar songs in order. But this is too here-and-there that blocks me away from engaging into the listen. It's obvious that Twice is trying to appeal to everyone, yet the wide attempt, for me, proves to be too much to handle, ending in a mediocre fashion.
The worst transition between tracks for me has to be between the last two. Say Something is a groovy citypop-inspired track, then Behind The Mask is a moody pop song. I just can't switch my emotions fast enough to resonate with both songs. I'm happy but suddenly I should be sad, I just can't.
Electro-pop and disco-inspired songs are what highlights the record for me. Sure, I'm definitely biased towards dance music, but they legitimately sounded great! Title track is awesome, and if you would've told me Dua Lipa was a writer in this album, I would not be surprised, considering that this song reeks of Physical. Also, Nayeon and Jihyo sang their hearts out and I absolutely applaud them. As a 2-5-1 chord progression enthusiast, Up No More is my favorite here. It oozes off Doja Cat's Say So, and when Tzuyu's vocals hit in the chorus, I just lost it. I ripped my mega epic extravagant dance moves and grooved along the song.
Edit: Err, so out of curiosity, I searched up "Say So Twice" on Youtube, and turns out there's a Say So mashup with the rap line, so yeah. I know, very useful information, no need to thank me.
To clarify, I have no issues with Latin pop music. However, songs that rip off such genre by just adding the calpyso drum sequence and calls it a day, in hopes of making it reach worldwide audience, puts me off in a bad way. It was already apparent in EP More & More, with Firework being my least favorite track. Here, case in point, Hell In Heaven and Go Hard. They're not horrible, just not tracks I'll be coming back to.
Also, can't really review the album without mentioning Bring It Back and Go Hard. Let's just say the beat drops were interesting.
The production here is iffy. I remember in Feel Special, the tracks (Especially Rainbow) were super clean and mixed perfectly. Here, some tracks like Depend On You and Bring It Back creates such a stiffy and suffocating environment, drowning any possible qualifying elements that are trying to sniff in.
I hate to say this, but this album is a disappointment. I'll definitely come back to some of the tracks here, but the album as a whole? It's unfortunately, mid. So much pain.
Favorite tracks: I Can't Stop Me, Up No More, Believer, Queen, Handle It, Say Something
Least favorite tracks: Bring It Back, Go Hard, Shot Clock, Depend On You
Edit: I'm skipping through the tracklist like James Harden euro-stepping (travelling) his way to the basket, Up No More is a banger though