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There are still so many October albums that I am trying to get through and I need to make a start with the November albums (which I will do tomorrow). Today, I will be covering TWICE’s most recent release in Korea, Eyes Wide Open. The group’s second studio album was released back at the end of October and features the title track, I Can’t Stop Me. Alongside this track, TWICE keeps listeners busy with another 12 tracks. As we are talking about a 13 track album, you can already tell it is going to be a long one. So accept my apologies on how late this album review is and let’s just get stuck into it.
1. I Can’t Stop Me (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review of I Can’t Stop Me. (6/10)
2. Hell in Heaven – Right after the title track comes TWICE most aesthetic single to date. It did definitely a bold statement to give the song, but I really do think Hell in Heaven earns the title. The song has this tropical profile that feels almost exotic and jungle-like. The vocal work in this is superb. There were some that were super good. I really liked the almost hushed approach vocals at the start of the chorus (by Jihyo, Mina and Tzuyu for each of the choruses respectively), complimenting the instrumental beat drop delay. I also like the breathy approach some of the other members took. Honestly, a really strong follow-up to the title track. (10/10)
3. Up No More – Up No More has the instrumental of a standard female group KPOP song. There is a hint of retro in it, which was the only thing worth mentioning. Other than that, I didn’t find anything special in the instrumental. What TWICE does extremely well with the song is infuse more of that retro feel through their vocals. I also really liked the fast melodic hook to the song, which has grown exponentially since the album releases. There is something about its fast delivery that feels groovy and catchy. The rapping was quite nice, but on the typical side of the spectrum. (7.5/10)
4. Do What We Like – Mina opening Do What We Like was an excellent move. She doesn’t get a lot of the credit when it comes vocals in the title tracks, so I felt like she had her moment to shine at the very start of this song. Apart from that, Do What We Like takes me back to Western electronic music from the last decade, partly thanks to the pop keyboard and those violin synths. The melodies were very sleek and I really liked the hooks, even though they were not as catchy as I wished they were. Do What We Like sounds wholesome and nostalgic, overall. (9.5/10)
5. Bring It Back – When you think about how TWICE started with their cutesy sound, I don’t think anyone would ever expect Bring It Back to fit in with their discography. It honestly took me a few listens to actually feel comfortable with this song. Bring It Back’s chorus had a deep and heavy tone, opting for trap-based EDM. It was slightly unsettling, given the song’s verses were more paced, airier and lighter in tone. But after these few listens, the song works out well. I liked the kick of upbeat energy that the first half of the bridge brings. It was a nice changeup to the slow pace of the verses. The second half of the bridge, just before the song brings back the trap EDM, was not that great, as it didn’t feel like it blended well with the members’ higher tone voices. (9/10)
6. Believer – After such a heavy song, Believer doesn’t come in to one-up the preceding song. Believer has good energy, but it doesn’t have the zing necessary to really continue the momentum. It starts off as a R&B number, before settling for something a little more upbeat pop sound. I wished they did something more with the instrumentals to give it that memorable factor. Instead, it just felt safe. The vocals was good, with the main and lead vocals standing out the most. Dahyun’s whispering rap was good, but it would have been nice if the producers extended the rapping sequence with a punchier approach following the whispering style. Finally, the song’s ending made it feel incomplete. All of these factors leave the song as one of the weakest on the album. (7/10)
7. Queen – There are a number of elements of Queen that makes it stand out. The first is the bouncy electronic introductory sequence that kicked off the song. The second is the ‘ba-ba-da-ba’ that also opened the song alongside Mina’s English line. (On a side note, I felt the way the producers built this song up felt very typical and failed to capitalize on the uniqueness of the opening electronic sequence). The third has to be the ‘Just a Show’ line that kicks off the chorus (which was keyed into my memory). The fourth is the funky energy we get in the chorus. Everything else just felt typical to me. (8.5/10)
8. Go Hard – While I do feel that Go Hard goes in all the right directions, the one thing it fails to really do is … well … go hard. This song really needs more bass, which would have brought a whole new level of dynamism and depth to the song. But other than that Go Hard gets all the ticks. There is intensity during the chorus that feels appropriate for a song titled ‘Go Hard’. The deep voices that repeats the ‘We just go hard’ line definitely works extremely well. I also liked that some of the members had a bit of a raspier tone for this song, which again works extremely well. The only other complaint is that the elephant-like trumpet samples should have been replaced with a different type of brass – one that doesn’t sound like the animal. (8/10)
9. Shot Clock – Shot Clock thrives on the consistent marching-band style instrumental. It definitely delivered energy and intensity to the song, especially when it came to the final chorus. First impression to the song was the vocal work was really good. But the more I listen to Shot Clock, the more that feeling some reason rubs off. This is a flaw of being too consistent, making everything feel the same all throughout. I was glad when the trap-centric rap sequence, as it cut the consistency and made the song more interesting. Wished they changed up the vocal style early on. (8.5/10)
10. Handle It – Handle It starts off with an R&B sound. I was drawn to it, thanks to the soft thumping of the drum that is pretty much there throughout the song. The chorus was a surprising change, moving the R&B feel to a jazzier sound (though in hindsight, I should have heard it coming as there was a slight jazzy influence in the verse). There was a bit more oomph to it, otherwise I would say the song would be suitable as hotel lobby music. But the oomph makes it more fitting for a modern jazz bar. I want to say there was good vocals in the song, which was the case for the verses. But I felt their approach to the chorus was a bit much, in combination with the instrumental elements of the chorus. (8/10)
11. Depend on You – You know how I tend to make the joke that ballads are mandatory on KPOP albums? Well, Eyes Wide Open doesn’t have a ballad. I know, how shocking! Depend on You is probably the closest song on the tracklist to a ballad. I really like the acoustic feels of the instrumental, and their soft vocals. The chorus is a simple beat drop, infusing some EDM into the song. It is also detailed with autotuned ad-libs. Together, all of the song felt like you listening on a cloud. Definitely a pleasant listen. (9/10)
12. Say Something – Getting me right at the start is the funky and retro vibes of the song, throwing us back to the 70s. There is also a blend of jazz mixed into the song, which made the song more interesting for me. Aside from the instrumental, TWICE really shows off their vocals in this song. To me, it is their best vocal work throughout the entire album. I just really liked how they sounded in the song and how balanced it felt with the instrumental. Neither masked the other and both complimented each other. Interestingly, the best part of the song is the ending with the saxophone solo and the fade it. It just made the Say Something perfect. (10/10)
13. Behind the Mask – Behind The Mask was an excellent song to end off the group’s second album. The trap/pop combination of the instrumental was quite an atmospheric experience, with the song feeling neither light or intense. What I really enjoyed about the song were their vocals. They sound melancholy and very chilling all at the same time over the trap/pop blend. The bridge was a really strong stillness moment and the launch back into the final chorus was spectacular. A strong song to end the album on. (10/10)
Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10