For LOONA, the last 10 months have been nothing short of transformative, to say the least. After a series of legal battles, the 12-member act traded longtime agency Blockberry Creative for new agencies, effectively fragmenting the group. While the members have expressed their desire to stand on stage together again, they are also taking the time to explore new projects, solo or otherwise.
Following Odd Eye Circle in July (under the Jaden Jeong-founded Modhaus), Hyunjin, Vivi, Yeojin, Gowon and Hyeju have formed Loossemble (a portmanteau of ‘LOONA’ and ‘assemble’) under the newly established agency CTDENM. Those who follow LOONA would know that these five members have been criminally underutilised for much of their career, often relegated to filler lines – if any at all. On their empowered and optimistic self-titled mini-album, however, the quintet are finally given the space to explore their own voices.
Funky and fresh, title track ‘Sensitive’ is a quirky dance-pop number built around a stylish spoken chorus (“Sensitively takin’ / Targets my preference, taste / Our choice is never wrong, perfect / Sensitively takin’ / Only pick the right path, chase”), keeping things interesting with their cooler-than-you delivery atop a bouncy, energetic beat. The song doesn’t not shy away from ambitious vocal moments, from gorgeously layered harmonies to an impressive string of high notes by Hyunjin and Hyeju.
This playful energy carries into ‘Real World’, which opens with a sample of George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ before bursting to life with surprisingly rap-heavy verses over a laidback hip-hop rhythm. Meanwhile, the moody, R&B-inspired ‘Colouring’ – co-written by Vivi and Yeojin – teems with sparkling, ethereal synths. It’s a welcome return to LOONA’s older, more otherworldly sound, fitting right into their ethereal 2019 record ‘XX’.
The record’s crown jewel, however, is the effervescent ‘Newtopia’, which may as well be Loossemble’s theme song for this new beginning. Coursing with bubbly, optimistic energy from start to finish, it effortlessly captures the thrill of arriving in a strange, but exciting new world. “Draw a deep breath / Even the air tastes sweet / The scene you’ve dreamt of every day / Is in front of you,” they croon. Gowon and Yeojin also particularly shine here, their bright, sugary tones driving this uplifting number home.
Dialling down the energy – but still every bit as fun – is the disco-tinged ‘Strawberry Soda’, a relaxed summer anthem penned and co-produced by LOONA bandmate Yves. Meanwhile, closing track ‘Day by Day’ rounds things out with a delicate sense of hope, alluding to their future: “Day by day, it grows clearer / In a world filled with dazzling light / The place we’re in together is unfamiliar, but beautiful.”
‘Loossemble’ brings with it that same magic that made the world fall in love with LOONA the first time around – though, one could argue that the girl group are playing it a little too safe by relying on what has worked for them before. However, as debut albums go, especially one recorded and released in such a short time, ‘Loossemble’ is an impressive effort that achieves exactly what it sets out to do: It spotlights and re-introduces the quintet as they step into the next chapter of their career – but instead of erasing their past, Loossemble embrace and lean on their LOONA roots.
- Release date: September 15, 2023
- Record label: CTDENM