New girl group fromis_9, who were put together by MNET’s survival show “Idol School,” has officially debuted with mini-album “To. Heart.” This was that random predebut group that performed last month at the MAMA awards in Japan. At MAMA, they performed their predebut single “Glass Shoes,” and now they’re back with debut title track “To Heart,” a high-energy pop concoction. Their name may be the most annoying to type in K-pop history, but fromis_9 has made one of the best cute-concept debuts of the past year with “To Heart,” and their timeless pop sound has the potential to stick with public.
While “To Heart” doesn’t ring with catchiness the way “Glass Shoes” did, this debut is solid. There’s something reminiscent of GFRIEND in the song’s bright, synthy, strings-heavy sound, but the production shows a textural nuance that I don’t usually notice in GFRIEND’s music. Embedded in the instrumental are bubbly clicking noises that add a shot of energy to the pace. The verses roll forward on that swell of energy so that by the time “To Heart” hits the chorus, it has accumulated enough momentum to get through a less-than-inspiring hook without much of a problem. This chorus could have used an unusual chord or two to give the composition a more distinctive flavor, but it’s not bad as-is—especially at the very end of the hook, where the staggered rhythm of the words “Pinky swear and make a promise” ups the catchy factor.
All that said, “Glass Shoes” is still the group’s best song by a long shot. The multilayered and multifaceted hook is genius, weaving idiosyncratic compositional moments among exciting rhythm and pace changes. While “Glass Shoes” is the definite highlight of the EP, all of the B-sides demonstrate significantly more interesting composition and production than the title track. I’d especially recommend “Pinocchio,” which unites polished melodies with eccentric stylistic choices to charming effect. Hopefully, fromis_9’s next title track will incorporate more of that eccentricity and help the girl group set themselves apart from the crowd.
TO HEART: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? A bop for sure.
Take a look at fromis_9’s “To Heart” MV below: