TWICE: What Is Love? Review

TWICE is going up again! Every last song on new mini album “What Is Love?” is awesome. I was a fan of “twicetagram,” but this is a new level for these girls. A new…style? Okay, no, title track “What Is Love?” may not be quite as inescapably catchy as, for example, “Likey” or “TT,” but on the other side of the same coin, it cuts the oversweet sing-talking that typically generates TWICE’s most addicting hooks and instead relies on a thoroughly developed dynamic structure that at the end of the day has more staying power. I think the point of this song is that it shows a little more restraint than most TWICE title tracks, and maybe that’s what the group needed. And title track aside, every song on this EP is top-freaking-notch. This EP goes deeper than any TWICE mini-album in the past.

Like I mentioned, the strongest point of “What Is Love?” is its dynamics. Something really interesting goes on the verses, especially verse 2: instead of bopping along at the giddy pace you usually hear throughout most TWICE title songs, the production keeps the beat rolling at a simmer, with the effect that the energy is contained and built up rather than being continually released by a more upbeat rhythm. When the verse ends, the next section starts at a point of accumulated energy rather than from zero. Plus the prechorus melody is excellent (why are Mina’s prechoruses so often the best parts of TWICE songs lately?), so that when the chorus finally hits, you’re ready to jam out. Now, the chorus itself may take a second longer to stick than you might expect from TWICE—but only a second. With its consistent melody and the staggered texture of the fronting vocals mixing with the gleeful “I wanna know” in the background, this is a hook that doesn’t get old right away. The dynamics cumulate in a grand-scale final repetition of the hook that focuses on Jihyo’s power vocals. She could have gone even bigger, but that would have butted into Nayeon’s part that builds up effectively to the fun of the closing few measures. As is, the song feels more discerning than many similar girl group tracks.

While I quite enjoyed “What Is Love?” I’ve got to say that any one of the album tracks has it beat. I keep saying this, but I’ve never heard a TWICE album that’s so solid straight through as this one. “Sweet Talker” gives you your zippy pop fix with unexpected composition and that irresistible “oh-oh, sweet talker!” hook, while the jazzy “Ho!” features possibly the greatest vocal hook we’ve ever heard from the group. “Dejavu” is a delightful bundle of organized chaos that somehow integrates both marching band drums and an EDM dance break. “Say Yes” has tender composition and a full vocal arrangement (that “daedabhaebwa-ah” in the hook!) that make it perhaps the ladies’ best ballad ever. I can’t remember the last time I felt this impressed with TWICE, but they seem to have proved with this album that they’re the nation’s top girl group for a reason.

 

WHAT IS LOVE: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? Bop!


Take a look at TWICE’s “What Is Love” MV below:

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