TWICE – ‘Taste Of Love’ review: a captivating dance pop exploration of growth and summer love

With more involvement in the creative process, TWICE not only promise good vibes but also their unique interpretations of romance

What is summer without a little bit of romance? When the weather is warm and you feel carefree, love takes you by surprise through a chance encounter with that special someone. The unexpected and wild nature of summer romances is what makes it a timeless and enduring concept – it’s why it takes centre stage in TWICE’s summer-themed mini-album, ‘Taste Of Love’.

The girl group have spent the past year experimenting with more mature themes in their music, and their latest release is no exception. On the surface, the concept might resemble TWICE’s girlish concepts from their younger days, but the album as a whole weaves tales of adults yearning for release from burning emotions and secretive, serendipitous encounters. ‘Taste Of Love’ is an upbeat, groovy exploration that subverts the image of a high-energy, pop concept from their past to explore their growth as individuals.

TWICE Taste of Love
TWICE. Credit: JYP Entertainment

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It’s evident in the mini-album’s third track ‘Scandal’, which describes the mysterious, burning emotions you feel when falling in love with someone for the first time. The song proves itself to be one of the more powerful tracks on ‘Taste Of Love’, showing TWICE’s ability to play around with their vocal dynamics to produce a catchy track. Powered by a funky disco-inspired riff and rhythmic English chorus (“It’s a little bit dangerous tonight / Just the way I like,” Nayeon and Mina playfully sing), the track is a sonic representation of pursuing a riskier form of love.

This exploration into deeper, more mature themes is carried over into ‘Conversation’, which talks about an expression of love that doesn’t require words. Its imagery is reminiscent of the serendipitous encounters you experience at a party, making eye contact with someone who might share the same feelings you do. What ‘Conversation’ lacks in a satisfying build-up or a proper ending – the song is one of the shortest in the album, running for only two minutes and 27 seconds – tries to make up for in lyrics that boast sultry undertones. “I don’t even have to say it / Your eyes are calling me,” Nayeon muses.

In line with its summer-inspired theme, ‘Taste Of Love’ is chock-full of easy-going, retro-inspired tracks. The main example is the mini-album’s opening and title track ‘Alcohol-Free’, a Bossa nova-inspired track about getting drunk on nothing but love. The song might suit the concept of their mini-album just fine, but there’s an immediacy that’s missing here, as compared to previous summer releases like ‘Dance The Night Away’ and the Japanese-language ‘Happy Happy’.

On paper, the idea of influsing Bossa nova elements into K-pop seems like a recipe for success – but the actual result is something that, while pleasant, doesn’t offer anything new as far as fusion tracks are concerned. Songwriter J.Y. Park tries to mix things up during the second verse and the bridge, but as a whole ‘Alcohol-Free’ runs along a stagnant instrumental that feels tired even after one play.

Building on the topic of being drunk in love is ‘First Time’, which talks about the excitement and nervousness that comes with falling in love for the first time. The song is about the thrill of falling in love for the first time, describing the excitement and nervousness that comes with it. Though the falsettos sound painfully out of their range at times, the build up of vocals matches on the slow and sensual nature of the song and helps to balance things out.

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Despite their exploration into darker, more mature themes, TWICE haven’t completely abandoned the bubbly, youthful sound of their earlier hits. ‘Baby Blue Love’ recounts the experience of someone falling in love in the summer and the longing for a relationship that lasts the whole year round. It’s a track that highlights the members’ strengths as vocalists, utilising lower notes and rhythmic lyrics to deliver strong, stable vocals without sounding strained.

Capping off the mini-album is ‘SOS,’ a track reminiscent of laid-back, city pop tracks from ’80s Japan. The track chronicles the story of a person who’s fallen way too deep in love and sends a message to someone to come and save them. The track relies on a groovy bass to push it forward, and when combined with flirtatious lyrics penned by Dahyun (“You know I just can’t stop it when my heart skyrockets for you / I know it’s gonna hurt, but I’m already into you”), it results in a memorable track that has the potential to become an enduring fan favourite.

twice taste of love alcohol free
TWICE. Credit: JYP Entertainment

In a sense, TWICE’s latest release expresses the girls’ very own different interpretations of love – what with the members having a hand in penning the lyrics for all the B-sides (Jihyo on ‘First Time’, Dahyun for both ‘Scandal’ and ‘SOS’, as well as Sana and Nayeon for ‘Conversation’ and ‘Baby Blue Love’, respectively). The lyrics on each track are either driven by emotions or, in the case of ‘Baby Blue Love’ and ‘Conversation’, paint vivid stories of experiences that are seemingly rooted in real life.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Chaeyeong noted that their growth as artists has involved taking their input in consideration when producing new music. “I think our opinions and feedback are taken more into consideration, which has helped our passion for each project grow,” she said – an aspect that lends strength to this mini-album as a whole. TWICE’s involvement in the production of the album has not only allowed them to inject their personalities into each track, but also consider what genres and sounds play to their strengths.

‘Taste Of Love’ is one of TWICE’s more powerful releases yet – despite a number of notable misfires – and showcases the group’s versatility in terms of vocals and concept execution. It’s certainly a menu of different romantic experiences seen through the eyes of women who are growing, both as individuals and as artists in their own right.

Details

twice taste of love alcohol-free review
  • Release date: June 11
  • Record label: JYP Entertainment
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