‘Eleven’ was unforgettable. Accompanied by lively B-side ‘Take It’, another strong foreshadow of their talents, their debut set expectations high for K-pop newcomers IVE. But could the girl group maintain all the hype they’d built?
A first comeback is an important moment for a rookie group – make-or-break, even. They get the chance to expand on their image and strengthen a growing fanbase, or risk what they’ve built up by veering into an unexpected direction. The answer for IVE was in the former, and it came in the form of the single album ‘Love Dive’.
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In it, the sextet double down on the captivating charms of ‘Eleven’ and deliver another pair of delightful “chaebol crush” songs, as dubbed by fans. In Korea, chaebol is a word used to design family-owned business conglomerates, and chaebol heirs are a common trope in K-dramas (meaning, the preppy and cool kids). Match that extravagance with the confidence that defines the “girl crush” domination in K-pop, and you’ve got IVE.
They say it themselves in the sassy yet classy B-side ‘Royal’: “From the way I walk up to my eyes, I’m so royal / Everyone asks how can I be like you, hold up,” raps Rei. With enough flair to be a title track, the moody electro beats of ‘Royal’ allow for vocalists Liz and An Yu-jin to soar, and rappers Rei and Gaeul to duet dynamically in their first self-written raps.
Defining themselves as royalty makes sense. Not only do they look expensive – think the Golden Age of Hollywood meets Gossip Girl – but they also sound expensive. They aren’t trying to hit you in the face, but they aren’t damsels in distress either. Instead, IVE would rather cloud you in their perfumed haze, and blind you with pop “diamonds and gold”.
‘Love Dive’, the single album’s title track, deepens that credo. A siren song that serpentines through dark, atmospheric bass and lilting vocals, enticing the listener until the end. “Narcissistic, my god I love it”, sings Wonyoung, offering a glimpse of IVE’s fresh-faced, irresistible conviction.
In love, the group takes a modern spin on Cupid’s myth, daring their “perfect sacrifice” to hold their breath and dive into this unknown world. Although a more subdued affair than ‘Eleven’, it also feels more intentional, highlighting each member’s unique tones and charms while retaining the allure that worked so well for their debut.
As good as first comebacks get, IVE have found a singular niche that allows for plenty of development. If ‘Eleven’ was dipping a toe into the mystifying waters of IVE, then ‘Love Dive’ is the definite, luxurious plunge. The only fault in their career is that we don’t have more songs to enjoy – yet.