When IVE were announced late last year, my expectations for the group weren’t the highest. Sure they had two of IZ*ONE’s most popular members as part of their lineup but apart form that, nothing really hooked me. But that all changed when debut single Eleven dropped. It felt fresh, unique and instantly gave me an idea of the groups concept and identity. Sure it was a bit rough around the edges but that’s something you expect from a rookie group. In fact, its strength led me to include it in my Top 100 K-pop Songs of 2021 despite its December release, a real feat. But no matter how strong a debut may be, the follow up is equally as important. So, does new single Love Dive manage to live up to expectations?
Well, to say it met expectations would be an understatement. Love Dive is the most satisfied I’ve been with a comeback all year, coming off as an instantly iconic extension of the sound the group laid down during their excellent debut. It’s a track that’s produced immaculately, conjuring a mystical, yet chic atmosphere that works incredibly well for the concept IVE have been building. This, “Chaebol crush” concept as people have started calling it is something that I actually find incredibly refreshing. It takes the dynamic, more serious sounds usually found in girl crush tracks but crafts stronger, more dynamic melodies to really make the final product much more enjoyable. The thundering percussion that opens the track is an excellent callback to Eleven but feels both exciting and new. This follows onto the verses, which pulse forward on that same hard hitting percussion. It’s an incredibly satisfying brew that’s furthered by the gorgeous “oooh” sample which runs through the track, lending an ethereal, otherworldly soundscape.
But just when you think you’ve figured out where Love Dive is heading, its’ excellent two part hook hits you like a semi truck. I adore, just simply adore the first part of the chorus. It’s perfectly executed, pulling back on the intensity whilst still giving so much to appreciate in the form of a pulsating electronic beat. The choppy vocal effects combined with the instantly iconic “narcissistic, my god I love it” is a match made in heaven and one that really pops during the second chorus where Leeseo takes the lead. It leads perfectly into the explosive second half, which brings the aforementioned “oooh” sample to the forefront to create a stunner of a centrepiece. Everything here just falls into place so damn nicely. Even the high-pitched and potentially grating dance break works better than expected. A stronger central melody alongside a more explosive climax could have really sent Love Dive into the stratosphere but I honestly cannot complain with what we have here. This is an absolutely stunning single.
Final Rating: 9.25 / 10