When LIGHTSUM debuted earlier this year, they stepped into the spotlight with the attention-grabbing ‘Vanilla’ – a bright, saccharine piece of pop that stuck with you like gum. Four months later, the nine-member girl group are switching things up for their first comeback, ditching the saturated colourfulness of their debut track for something more elegant.
‘Vivace’, the title track from their new single album ‘Light A Wish’, is a much softer sound, a feather-light pop song that sparkles and glistens as it glides along. There’s a magical quality to it, reflected not just in its twinkling instrumentation but in its wide-eyed lyrics too. “A shining world unfolds before my eyes,” Chowon sings on the chorus before Juhyeon picks up her thread and expands the spellbinding scene: “Dancing all night long with this beautiful song.”
Because it opts for a more ethereal path than the vibrant one of ‘Vanilla’, ‘Vivace’ feels less immediate than its predecessor and boasts fewer standout, memorable moments. Sangah and Jian’s rap verses, in particular, feel like they don’t get the same chance to shine here, while the whole song feels more muted. Instead, it’s a track that grows on you with each listen, as if each play sees its spell become more potent. That atmosphere could work in the CUBE Entertainment girl group’s favour, though, especially following ‘Vanilla’, which was received, in some circles, as something more divisive.
It’s still early in LIGHTSUM’s careers, and it makes sense that they might not have quite found their identity yet. ‘Light A Wish’ feels like them trying on different looks in real time, with each of its three tracks offering something completely distinct from the other. ‘You, jam’ – seemingly a play on the Korean word for fun, “재미있다” or “jaemiitda” – is a little darker and possesses a cooler attitude than the tracks either side of it.
“I like this phenomenon / My heart skipped a beat, what a chaos,” they chant on an infectious chorus, setting up the song’s pursuit of enjoyable bedlam. The lines “Boredom is the most painful thing to me / I stretch out and it makes me yawn” tell you all you need to know about the group’s feelings towards the quiet life, while Sangah makes it even more transparent later: “I’m OK yo, I’m enjoying / Sweet chaos, melted in.”
Meanwhile, ‘Popcorn’ feels like it bears the closest resemblance to ‘Vanilla’, even sharing a similar whirring synth line. It’s bright and instantly catchy, the chorus full of “na na nas” and lines that describe its performers as about to “pop, pop, pop like popcorn”. It’s ironic that this should be the song that feels like it carries on where LIGHTSUM’s debut left off because it’s also home to a lyric that is the perfect summation of ‘Light A Wish’: “You don’t know where I’m going to pop to.”
Individually, all three of these songs hit varying degrees of good, but together they lack the cohesiveness that would have made this comeback feel more impactful. As LIGHTSUM still find their groove, though, it’s a solid stepping stone onto bigger, better things.