Yeesh, that wasn't my favorite TWICE album ever. I'm not against the change in musical direction—it's still nice to see that they haven't stagnated and that they're exploring more ideas—but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. I don't know if I can say that their sound has matured so much as it has... westernized.
K-Pop in general seems to be veering towards a more western sound in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience (BTS's Dynamite and MAP OF THE SOUL series and BLACKPINK's album are clear indicators), and it looks like our main obnoxious cute pop girls are following suit. If More & More was like TWICE dipping their toes hesitantly into western music, then Eyes Wide Open is like TWICE cannonballing into the radio pop kiddie pool. It's kind of messy, kind of unwelcome, and piss water flies everywhere.
The first track, I CAN'T STOP ME, really sets the tone for most of the album. It's not bad, per se, but it certainly lacks the unique flair of their other a-sides and it's clearly following the current synthpop trend that we've seen from several others this year (EVERGLOW, looking at you). The vocal processing is also a bit iffy. Despite everything, that and the next two tracks are probably the most enjoyment I got out of this record—they're, predictably, the brightest and catchiest songs, and the ones that sound the most TWICE-y to my bubblegum-pop-deprived ear.
A lot of these are pretty unremarkable, radio-friendly cuts, so I'm going to zero in on the especially bad ones. For starters, we've got BRING IT BACK, with a pretty awful drop that I didn't think anything would top until I heard GO HARD a few minutes later. Spoiler alert, GO HARD does not go hard. It rather reminds me of that ITZY title track. SHOT CLOCK has some hilariously outdated production that sounds right out of TWICE'S Page Two EP. I'm laughing now, but I was kinda suffering earlier while listening to the two of them. Not fun.
SAY SOMETHING isn't that bad of a standalone song (it's city pop! *cue orgasm*), but it was pretty jarring in context. I can't imagine being fed mediocre pop music for half an hour and then suddenly wanting to listen to city pop. Feels like filler to me. And of course, we have the Dua Lipa contribution, which (naturally) sounds pretty reminiscent of her music. It's not bad.
So, altogether, it's messy, a little boring, and more than a little disappointing. They're rapidly losing their charm and the unique sound that we got a glimpse of in Feel Special and Fancy You. Beyond TWICE, I can't help but feel that this 2020 trend doesn't bode well for the genre as a whole. As money-grabby and commercialized as it already is, I'd hate to see even the K-Pop forerunners dissolve into a mishmash of pseudo-Western music. Or maybe I'm just annoyed that we might see Red Velvet go in this direction.
Favorites: HELL IN HEAVEN, I CAN'T STOP ME, UP NO MORE
Least Favorites: GO HARD, SHOT CLOCK, BRING IT BACK