Once upon a time, I was not a fan of Twice. At all. However, over the last 12 months I have gone from being an anti to an almost full on stan. I’m not quite at the ‘joining the official fan club’ stage yet though. As the biggest girl group in the world of K-Pop at the moment, it’s important for them to keep momentum going and building on their already huge success. After a string of Japanese releases earlier this year, the girls are now back with their first Korean album of 2018 titled ‘What is Love?’. But will this album increase my love for them more or am I heading back towards indifference? Find out in my first K-Pop review of 2018!
One of the biggest issues with a lot of K-Pop acts is that they have a killer title track but a terrible album. This is something that has plagued Twice for me and unfortunately, it looks like the same here. The album opens with the lead single and title track ‘What Is Love?’ which is obviously the stand out track. In the past, it’s taken me a few weeks to click with Twice singles but this track has been quite instant for me. It’s got a pretty good upbeat melody with a lot of hooks in the verses which I like. Very breezy pop. I can already tell that this is going to grow on me a lot over the next few weeks. It’s already gone from being good to great in the space of writing this review. That chorus is super catchy. There just needs to be more vocals for Mina. She has a nice tone to her voice that I’d like to see used more in their singles.
But outside of the lead single is where the problems arise. ‘Sweet Talker’ starts off decent enough. It reminds me a lot of early noughties pop music like Allstars. Anyone remember them? My biggest issue with this track is the vocal production. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Twice are not the best vocalists in the K-Pop industry. So as the biggest K-Pop girl group on the scene, their label should be giving them songs that work to their strengths. On Sweet Talker, Jihyo and Naeyeon sound very strained trying to hit the higher notes on the chorus. ‘Ho!’ works a little better for them vocally with a lot less belting. Jihyo leads the track and it suits her voice a bit better. It reminds me a lot of Meghan Trainor. It’s pleasant but it’s not going to be added to my ‘Best of Twice’ playlist anytime soon.
‘Deja Vu’ weirdly reminds me of the Pitch Perfect movies with the harmonies in the chorus. It works best for me as it’s predominately led by Chaeyoung and Dahyun raps which I’m a fan of. They have great tones to their voices. I like the high energy break in the middle eight too. It would have been great had that energy been built into the final chorus to really amp it up. And now we’re onto the obligatory K-Pop ballad ‘Say Yes’. This track works a lot vocally because they sing a lot softer which suits them a lot more. The chorus is very catchy and I enjoy the group harmonies a lot. This is the strongest of the album tracks for sure. I’m always a sucker for super cutesy girl band ballads!
All in all, ‘What Is Love?’ is a disappointing start to 2018 for me with Twice. It’s all very well to have a great lead single but you really need to have as good album tracks to back that up. As such, despite being in the industry for almost 3 years, there are still only about 12-15 songs by Twice that I actually like – including ‘What Is Love?’. If Twice truly want to make their mark then the quality of their albums needs to improve. As it stands, this isn’t a release that changes my opinion on Twice at all. Let’s hope things get better for them throughout 2018.