Two days ago, one of Korea’s leading female groups made their comeback! The group in question is TWICE, who has returned for the first time in Korea since the release of I Can’t Stop Me in October of last year. They also released the single Cry For Me at the start of the year (but I haven’t reviewed this track as there is no accompanying music video). The group also recently released the Japanese single Kura Kura (which I have reviewed). The comeback this time is lead by the title track Alcohol-Free, which was released as a pre-release single ahead of their tenth mini-album, Taste of Love, which officially dropped earlier today.
Even before listening to the song, I have my reservations about the new song. Alcohol-Free is an awkward title for a song, and I feel this is because of the common perceptions of the term ‘Alcohol-Free’. To label something as ‘Alcohol-Free’ is a bit of a kill joy. (But those drinks do have their benefits in society). True to the common perception of the term, I find the song to be equally lackluster as those drinks. TWICE usually have these bold pop tracks that are super catchy and are quite memorable. But Alcohol-Free opts for a chilled track that delves into hip-hop and bossa nova genres. I acknowledge their attempt to change style and sound, but I don’t think this TWICE material. Well, their usual material, to be more exact now. Alcohol-Free, as whole, feels like an extension of elevator music, plain and boring. I did like the use of bossa nova to add that Summery feel. I particularly like the bossa nova element that started up the second verse, adding a bit of a fun vibe to the song. But I also found the song feel like it was stuck in a neutral gear from start to end, never building to anything substantial. I think that is the elevator music side of the song speaking, quite profoundly. But when you listen to the song more closely, you do hear some promising elements. The melody was pleasant to listen to. It did lack memorability and catchy hooks, as you usually would associate with TWICE’s music. But it was still likeable. Similar comments can be applied to the vocal work. I do, however, find their vocals fizzle out as they approach the end of each line, which isn’t really the best effect. The rapping in the bridge was a bit more promising, adding some oomph to the song. But it wasn’t enough to be the saviour element to boost the song to anywhere near the top of my personal list of TWICE’s best title track. But like the rapping, it wasn’t substantial enough to make an impact on my perceptions of the song as a whole piece. Overall, Alcohol-Free isn’t my cup of tea.
To fit the Summery vibes of the song, I felt the music video was appropriate for the music. Shot on the waterfront by the beach is pretty fitting (though I assume the waterfront was a set, and the beach imagery was applied post production). But nonetheless, it all made sense. I also really like other set, the one with the platform, massive cocktail glass and lighting that brings a silver tone to the set, which gave off a modern feel. I also guess, fitting for the title of the song, there are a lot of drinks throughout the video, which I presume to be alcohol free. The term alcohol-free in this song is actually used to describe their drunk feeling towards falling in love. They aren’t drunk from drinking, but rather the feeling of love. And I feel that the members show that well using facial expression throughout the video. They don’t look drunk, but rather blissful and happy at that feeling they are describing in the song.
For me, I felt the performance was quite refreshing, once again suiting the Summery vibes of the song. It also suited the mature direction in which the group had opted for in their more recent comebacks. I do think the performance could have been more energetic, but that is more of a song issue than a choreography issue. I do like their side-ways movements in the second verse, with that being the most memorable part of the choreography for me.
Song – 6/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.8/10