By K-pop standards, 2022 has so far been a pretty quiet year for LOONA. The BlockBerry Creative girl group’s most notable activities over the last six months come in a triptych – first, their on and offline concert ‘LOONAVERSE: FROM’ in February, then their placing as runners-up on Queendom 2, and finally, new music in the form of new mini-album ‘Flip That’. The latter, in a way, ties up the two big events that came before it, while also crafting a record that’s perfect for the season it takes its title from.
‘Flip That’ might be a much-needed gift from the group, but it’s not one that does much to turn up the volume. Instead, it ditches the girl crush sound of recent title tracks like ‘PTT (Paint The Town)’ and ‘So What’, and returns to LOONA’s dreamier, more ethereal side. It’s a refreshing move, albeit one that means some of the songs present here need a little more attention before they get under your skin.
‘Flip That’ is a shining example. Although it’s the title track, it feels a bit muted to make a strong impression right out of the gates. Light tropical house colours the song, which picks up the melody from its predecessor, the lilting instrumental intro ‘The Journey’, and its soft, lowkey energy makes it perfect for balmy summer nights spent running through nature. “Ooh-ooh na-na-na flowers bloom,” Choerry, Olivia Hye, Hyunjin and Yeojin sing. “I got this heartbeat pounding.” The song might not evoke that same rush instantly but its “Flip that / That that that that that that” chorus line becomes more addictive with each listen.
‘Pose’, which was previewed in Queendom’s finale, dips back into the pot of brash and confident songs, opening with the sound of distant cheers and the click of cameras. “Adjust the focus / In the midst of a growing gaze / Roll out the red carpet and walk on it boldly,” Yves introduces the track self-assuredly, swiftly followed by Heejin’s impossibly cool “When you see me, angle up, steal your heart, look”. It’s a fun dart back to more upbeat territory, but feels like it throws off the rhythm of the whole record.
Despite that, Flip That’ is one of LOONA’s strongest releases for a while and it’s aided to that status by three stunning tracks in ‘Need U’, ‘Playback’ and ‘Pale Blue Dot’. The former is a piece of gorgeous, minimal pop that feels gentle and hopeful, but bypasses a sense of urgency its lyrics could have introduced. ‘Playback’, which was written by the members and was debuted at that concert in February, is similarly reassuring, Kim Lip, Choerry, Hyunjin and Heejin reminding their fans that “Even if we meet in an unfamiliar orbit / Even if I wander again / Remember you are always my centre” over a dreamy, poignant foundation.
The latter, meanwhile, finds more of a groove, but maintains the sparkling spirit of encouragement. “We’re gonna fly tonight / Whatever comes to mind / It’s gonna be alright,” the group sing cheerfully as it reaches its end. It’s a fitting epithet for LOONA right now; they might have faced their fair share of issues but, musically at least, they’re flying back towards greatness.
- Release date: June 20
- Record label: BlockBerry Creative