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“Do not accept the fate of the moon”
A sanguine voice chimes in LOONA’s “So What” M/V: an expression laced with sinister determination against being underestimated and stereotyped. LOONA have come back with a new concept showing us their ‘hidden side’ – a side which manifests through the burgeoning self-love and attitude. Unshakeable in their belief, the girls’ nonplussed esteem in themselves is the concept they are trying to portray. With an array of genres under their belt, LOONA have never failed to surprise musically. Let’s see what they had to offer us this season.
“Intro ‘#’ gives a hint that a whole different album is made in a different space, going over [X X]’s point.”
The introductory track sets the mood for the title track. “#” begins with industrial noises that perfectly showcase LOONA’s message of “Burn Yourself” with the samples sounding like burning objects.
The track is a glorious amalgamation of samples with automated voices drenched in auto-tune dancing around in succession. The gargantuan horns of “So What” appear here first, coming into aural view, although staying largely behind the smoke frame of samples. The industrial distortion segways into metallic melody with modern synths in the forefront, staying in their gauzy lane of textures. The two drops make the track a surprising listen, keeping the listener on the edge of their seat.
It’s a gorgeous play of inorganic aural textures, truly exhibiting the “hidden side” of LOONA.
02. “So What”
“The titled song ‘So What’ is an impressive urban dance piece with a grand bass and signature Hornstab, which further maximizes the “girl crush” that LOOΠΔ has not shown before. With the message ‘Break the boundaries that the world has made’ and it added the depth in LOONAVERSE.”
Executively produced by Lee Sooman, the track is LOONA’s attempt at the ubiquitous ‘girl crush’ concept. LOONA have usually strayed away from K-Pop’s everyday concepts but they have adapted the notable ‘ITZY sound’ in this track. However, there is always an overarching element with LOONA and the artistic usage of puns which makes it somewhat of a different track to ITZY’s usual material.
LOONA unveils a fiery persona with this track. The usage of the Phrygian mode (one of the major modes in music theory, resembling the stereotypical Middle-Eastern sound palette) is brief and to the point, not tiring the listener.
This loud club banger is musically interesting as it is conceptually. The harrowing non-melodic synths are in wonderful contrast to the saccharine, melodic vocals on top – the vocal expressions are aggressive yet sung sweetly, which is a beautiful play between the two worlds.
The track is somewhat reminiscent of Choerry’s solo “Love Cherry Motion” in the respect of duality but the concepts interlock more in this track. The track is co-produced by IMLAY, whose EDM sensibilities shine bright in the track. The track has some high harmonies with the confident verses being delivered by the members’ softer voices. The concept has received polarising reception from fans with some calling it ‘tryhard’, but I only hear the members delivering the track professionally despite not having the natural tone for it.
The lyrical bridge is archetypal of SM, giving one time to breathe with some vivid vocals. The track’s only downside for me is the succession of high notes repeating “I’m So Bad”, which was not necessary at all. The bionic mecha nature of the track balances well with the members’ organic vocals, creating for a well-crafted track heralding LOONA’s long-awaited return.
03. “Number 1”
“’Number 1’ is a 808-bass groove that adds a dreamy atmosphere EP sound with rich harmony and emotional voice, just enough to show another vibe of LOOΠΔ.”
Floaty, airy, and ambient sounds start off this ecstatic yet shy-sounding track. The atmospheric nature of the track sounds like an ode to their previous title track’s quieter sections. It’s a crowd-pleaser of a track but manages to be artistically vibrant at the same time, sticking to one concept and delivering it with opulence.
The choruses are sung in the softest yet solid falsettos, further promoting the floating nature of the track. The melody is very feel-good and maintains this way throughout the track. The members, especially Chuu, do some ephemeral bird-like trills in the final chorus, by constricting their vocal folds to create smaller columns of sound.
Overall, the track stays true to its nature, showing us a softer, shy sound of LOONA.
04. “Oh (Yes I Am)”
“‘Oh (Yes I Am)’ is a song that has a clear sound and mysterious vibe that LOOΠΔ is looking for ‘Infinite possibilities that I have’.”
Produced by Coach&Sendo, this house track would sound at home with GWSN as it does with LOONA. It’s an entire class of synths by itself.
Beginning with softer synths showcasing a feeling of wonderment with Olivia Hye’s rapping voice gliding over it like a dove’s feather. The verses are an absolute aural delight with the R&B synths beautifully creating a very colourful sound palette. The pre-chorus is a fakeout, with the high bell-like house synths taking over followed by the ‘real’ drop, with a sea of sound washing over the barren land of an instrumental.
The members’ tinny voices are paired well with the instrumental: the nasal timbre of some of the LOONA members blending flawlessly with the tinny synths. There are some beautiful ascending vocals by JinSoul and Chuu, showing off their potential in their mixed voices.
The rap verses are equally captivating which I do not say about many K-Pop songs. There is a high Bb5 executed by HaSeul, further showing off LOONA’s vocal prowess; it’s high time BBC make use of her head voice to the fullest.
Probably my favourite track on the mini, this track is more in tune with LOONA’s previous releases, sounding like a close cousin of “Rosy” in Olivia Hye’s single album.
05. “Ding Ding Dong”
“’Ding Ding Dong’ is a dance pop genre that features a bass line built on top of a piano leap to make LOOΠΔ’s voice more charming. On the lyrics, LOOΠΔ compared ‘Ding Ding Dong’ a sound that it rings through the heart, with an expectation of the one approaching first, with timid characteristics.”
Bright, glistening synth-pop with lots of sounds fluttering about, this song shows off the harmonic denseness of LOONA.
The piano and synths are high and melodic-sounding, painting a mirage of toy instruments being used. The track is bubbly throughout which makes it a bit cloying and easy to get tired of. However, it is another great show-off of the LOONA members’ vocals, with Chuu belting an F5 in the bridge. It is a good track with a few shortcomings.
“The lead single ‘365’ is a lyrical R&B ballad, based on the piano, with a message that LOOΠΔ will always shine Orbits around the world, who has been waiting for LOOΠΔ for a long time with moon’s heart.”
As most ballads in K-Pop, this track fails to keep up to the rest of the album’s standards. Ballads usually do not add much musically interesting moments to an album which makes them rather blasé listens personally.
The track, although relying highly on emotion, is another good showcase of the members’ vocals with Chuu’s and Kim Lip’s voices uniting in the bridge to show the full potential of LOONA’s vocals: bright, high and glimmering, a triumphant jewel in LOONA’s crown. That vocal part makes the overall typical ballad all the more special.
07. Day & Night” (Hidden Track)
Showing off LOONA’s playful synth-pop sound with utter finesse, this track does not deserve to be a hidden track.
The sampled voice is a great stylistic choice; it is heavier than any of the other members’ voices, yet fits the track. The chorus is rather full-sounding with the vocals taking a higher route. “You’re going around-round”, a metaphor for how the world goes round and round to create day and night.
There is a little Easter Egg in the track with the members saying “So What”, an allusion to the title track. The bridge is slightly weak with similar singing to the pre-chorus. The track wraps up well and is a perfect closer to the album (in the CD version).
The album is a mixed bag of goodies, having a track for everyone. Truly LOONA at heart with the ever-persistent diversity which never lets you get bored of it – LOONA’s best group effort to date.