Although I’ll primarily be reviewing singles, there are some albums that are too influential or strong to not cover. In this segment, I will be spotlighting those standout albums and giving my thoughts on each and every track
In honour of Loona’s first win, I though I would it would only be appropriate to have a look at the album that gave them this opportunity. Although ‘[#]’ didn’t make my top 3 albums of the month list, it was more a testament to the strength of those other albums than any fault of Loona’s. In fact, I would go as far as to say that ‘[#]’ is their strongest and most well produced album since their debut. Other than the epic title track, this LP is filled to brim with interesting sounds and a nice collection of genres. At only 6 tracks long, this is the first mini album I’ve covered so far on this blog. While there are no album tracks that rival the sheer strength or quality of the lead single, the overall consistency of this album pretty much demands to be acknowledged.
I won’t usually cover intro’s in my album reviews, but # is an exception. Not only is it an incredibly promising introduction to the album, but the sheer stylistic choices made during this production are incredibly invigorating. The glitchy synths coupled with the distorted horns that open the track are instantly captivating and set a dark, almost ominous tone. The reverting synths that continue into the breakdown are much more gritty than we’re used to and would have made an excellent backing track for a full song. I just wish that they had used this for a proper song and just relegated it to an intro. There is so much potential here.
2. So What (review)
3. Number 1
Dialling things right back from the bombast of the albums first two tracks, the retro influenced Number 1 is rather jarring in the context of the album, but works very well as a stand alone track. The verses are intriguing, but lack the kind of engaging melody that really makes tracks like this soar. They are well produced and performed, but feel more throwaway than they normally should. The same could be said for chorus, but it’s much more notable. The swirling atmospheric synths are actually every reminiscent of some of my favourite pre-debut material from the girls. In fact, Odd-eye circle would absolutely eat up a track like this. And in this regard, Number 1 succeeds. (still waiting for Sweet Crazy Love part 2 girls)
4. Oh (Yes I Am)
Probably my favourite b-side on the album, the quirky and pop informed Oh (Yes I Am) Is an undeniable album highlight. The production here is once again immaculate, framing the girls voices and the instrumental in equal measure. The verses in this track shine, providing an ever-changing soundscape that feels vital and engaging. They are equally personality and production driven, allowing for each of the members the chance to shine. I especially love the clipped instrumentation and vocal delivery during the first part of the chorus. The hook itself is also potent, powering forward with the kind of sheer pop melody that I love so much. And while Oh (Yes I Am) doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, it doesn’t really need to.
5. Ding Ding Dong
Pretty much a combination of the albums last two tracks, Ding Ding Dong fuses quirky arrangement and delivery of Oh (Yes I Am) with the kind of retro beat that framed much Number 1. In fact, I think it actually works much better because of this. Though it doesn’t have a melody as strong as Oh (Yes I Am) and some of the delivery is a little to saccharine for my tastes the production and instrumentation is probably my favourite of all the album tracks. It carries just enough novelty and weight to be constantly engaging and not feel grating. It’s just a strong pop sound all round.
The standard fan ballad, 365 is easily the blandest track on the album. I get that it carries alot of sentimental value for many fans, but everything from the production flourishes to the delivery feel as though they are very strongly adhering to the standard Korean ballad template. The uninspiring melody coupled with rather boring arrangement don’t really do the track any favours either. The track never really reaches any notable peaks, plodding forward with the kind of standard piano ballad tropes that we have come to expect. So what we get in the end is something that’s not really memorable. The girls expectedly sound great, but alas it isn’t enough to elevate 365 into a standout within the groups discography.
7. Day & Night (Hidden track)
Oh why was this track not on the digital version of the album. Day & Night is probably the track that takes the most influence from album opener # and its inclusion as a hidden track is truly a crime. While it isn’t my favourite track on the album, it’s by far the most conceptually accurate track on the album. Bursting out of the gate with an addictive synth riff, the track pulses forward with an invigorating funk backbone. The looping vocal sample ever-present throughout the track is an inspired touch, and one of the more satisfying moments on this record. Oh how great it would have been if there were more tracks like this on the actual album.
Best Album Tracks
- Oh (Yes I Am)
- Ding Ding Dong
Final Thoughts: My favourite full group Loona album yet, ‘[#]’ is stuffed to the brim with excellent production choices and great performances. Though not much of the album is as pop informed as I would have liked, there are enough pure pop hooks around to please almost anybody. I would have liked a stronger finale to the album than 365, and would have been delighted had the album stuck to the glitchy sound promised by #, but I can’t be upset with the final product. The inclusion of Day & Night as a hidden track is also questionable, but I can look past it. I can only hope that the groups next project builds on the strengths of this project to create the knockout project that I know that they are clearly capable of. And because of this, I’m going to award LOONA’s 3rd mini album ‘[#] a:
Album Rating: B+