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K-Pop group TWICE revisits their lighthearted sound

TWICE+recently+released+their+newest+Ep%2C+With+YOU-th%2C+on+Feb.+23%2C+revisiting+their+lighthearted+sound.
Courtesy of JYP Entertainment Corporation
TWICE recently released their newest Ep, “With YOU-th,” on Feb. 23, revisiting their lighthearted sound.

In the world of K-pop, one year might as well be one decade. Acts come and go. Groups are at the mercy of the fickleness of fans and the memories of the public with one bad song, or worse, controversy, a one-way ticket into obscurity. For TWICE, this is not the case. The nine-member idol powerhouse has staved off irrelevancy with over eight years’ worth of appealing music, imagery and personalities with the group offering something for everyone. Whether it be the catchy bubble-gum pop sound of “FANCY” from 2019 or a more mature take on love with “Feel Special” later that same year, TWICE’s versatility and diversity in music is proven time and time again with each new release.

Fast forward to 2024, almost a year after their last EP “READY TO BE,” and TWICE returns to its beginnings of catchy and upbeat music with “With YOU-th,” a synthesized feast for the ears released Feb. 23. English-language pre-release “I GOT YOU is reminiscent of a time where the only worries in life were where the friend group was going to meet up and if that person you glanced at while getting ice cream liked your back. It’s all about friendship and light feelings in this latest EP, a bold departure from the moody, dramatic path that the group took with “READY TO BE.” The track is reminiscent of the group’s earlier tracks like “Like Ooh-Ahh,” “CHEER UP and “What is Love,?” calling for a renewed return to TWICE’s core “girlnextdoor” image.

The synth-pop sound from “I GOT YOU” travels over to the EP’s title track “ONE SPARK.” Like much of TWICE’s title tracks, “ONE SPARK” is centered around the spark of first love and the passion that comes from it — a common theme within their music — yet the song is a new, matured take on it compared to the group’s Korean-language discography. The percussive, dynamic rhythm of the song is not heard in any of their previous Korean title tracks. Rather, “ONE SPARK” is reminiscent of the group’s Japanese-language discography with songs like “Kura Kura” and “Fanfare” coming to mind. Fast-paced, bubbly and always having somewhere to go, TWICE reinforces itself with its lead single. 

“BLOOM” has become a fan-favorite, highlighting a different side of TWICE. The members sing in a lower register for most of the song, something that isn’t highlighted much in their previous discographies. It’s refreshing to hear them sing in a register that sounds much more comfortable for them. At times, the percussive bassline that permeates the song feels as though it undermines their voices. It’s not a dealbreaker, but something to think about if hearing the members singing is a priority. 

TWICE takes inspiration from drum-and-bass, synth pop and even Jersey Club to some extent in “With YOU-th,” all trends in the fourth and fifth generation K-pop scene. The members have followed some of these trends before with tracks like “SET ME FREE” and its moody, dramatic sound. Despite this, TWICE turns these trends into their own, harkening back to previous releases. The light atmosphere of “NEW NEW” is reminiscent of “OXYGEN” from “MORE & MORE” released four years ago, an ephemeral, dynamic synth-pop inspired track that complements the themes of its album. “BLOOM” is the epitome of a TWICE B-side track, with a more laid-back sound compared to “ONE SPARK,” a formula that has worked for TWICE throughout their entire career. 

“With YOU-th” is a welcomed addition to TWICE’s streak of hits. “I GOT YOU” is a great opener and lead-in for “ONE SPARK,” and the rest of the EP acts as a reformed version of themselves as each track harkens back to their previous releases. Despite taking the trends of K-pop and spinning it into something that is uniquely theirs, the album’s familiarity makes it seem less of a planned release, but a reaction to the changing landscape of K-pop, and not the meticulous and personal image of TWICE. For devoted fans, the EP is an exciting return to the lighthearted sound that made them fall in love with the group in the first place. For the general public, “With YOU-th” is a gateway into the girls that can charm you twice.

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