Say what you want about TWICE’s discography, but they are one of the few acts in K-pop right now who truly understand and embrace their ethos. You only need to look as far back as their previous – and first ever – English single, ‘The Feels’. Groovy beats thumping and disco-synths twinkling, it felt like both an ode to and a culmination of the doe-eyed femininity they’d come to represent in the early years of their career.
“Get so shy, it’s obvious / catching feels like butterflies / If I say what’s on my mind / Would I hit bullseye?” they sang. Sweet yet flirtatious, not to mention endearingly shy, ‘The Feels’ showcased the proverbial final form of the TWICE we’d spent years loving and raving over.
As they’ve clarified numerous times over, however, that doe-eyed girl is in the past now. TWICE’s so-called second innings at JYP Entertainment began with the release of their album ‘Between 1&2’. Where they’d earlier conceded some power to someone else (“You say I’m ridiculous / that I don’t live up to my looks / doesn’t cheer me up at all, baby,” they declared on ‘TT’), ‘Between 1&2’ came brimming with the most attractive colour of self-assurance and sensuality that we’d seen on TWICE yet.
So, it makes sense that their latest release and second English single reflects their decidedly fulfilling arc. ‘Moonlight Sunrise’ swaps out the floral and vibrant pinks of ‘The Feels’ for a more mysterious, calculated approach. Despite coquettish glimpses into the game of attraction – “I don’t even know how to talk right now / it’s ‘I need you’ o’clock right now” – it’s clear that the control rests solely with them. Boldly, TWICE lay all their cards on the table. “Oh yeah, baby I don’t really mean to rush / But Imma really need your touch, if Imma make it through the night” – phew, is it getting hot in here?
Sleek R&B production amplifies the sultry approach. With synths accentuating the chorus and the rap verses in particular, the song keeps you listening with rapt attention lest you miss a second of the magic. As smooth and buttery as it sounds, however, the song never quite reaches the peak promised. A string stretches taut as tension builds on the pre-chorus, but the delicious pain of the snap never comes – the chorus, though catchy, underutilises the group’s excellent vocals. The progression becomes repetitive by the time the chorus hits the second time around, undermining the display of confidence.
In comparison, predecessor ‘The Feels’ was a gripping extravaganza throughout, with the catchy refrain – “Boy I, boy I, boy I know / I know you get the feels” – segueing seamlessly into verses and then sliding back in after the chorus. Ironically, despite TWICE being more upfront and honest on ‘Moonlight Sunrise,’ the chorus on ‘The Feels’ is more explosive and exhilarating – they’ve thrown caution to the wind and are finally revelling in how they truly feel. The sound of ‘Moonlight Sunrise’ feels a tad hesitant, as if they’re still dipping their toes into the water.
This is still TWICE we’re talking about, though. In their journey to shape their ethos, they’ve been diligent in learning from their fumbles and proactive in making up for it. ‘Moonlight Sunrise’ gave us but a taste – let’s see how else their sound evolves on their upcoming mini-album ‘Our Youth’.