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  • Cy White

LOONA: [&]

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When I first found fleeting interest in LOONA it was with the understanding they'd have a unique concept (at least in terms of visual) to their K-pop peers. While that might have lasted for their first forays into the market, it didn't last long.

[&] is pretty much what you'd expect from any of K-pop's "idols." The same musical concepts, the same scattered musical themes throughout an album. Decent vocals that really don't reach for much or inspire much belief they'll ever do more than the simplest concepts of bubblegum. In some of their musical composition, they seem to be attempting to emulate the likes of SISTAR and Red Velvet, both of whom have powerful vocal lines, thus the ability to attempt more interesting vocal constructions.

In the end, LOONA isn't much different than any other group I've heard, which is a bit disappointing. A proverbial expectation vs. reality situation that I've unfortunately fallen into way too often for comfort.

The opening of [&] did hint at more of what I'd assumed they were going for musically when they took the long, tedious route to a full-scale debut. However, [&] is a hodge-podge of pop concepts many other groups have done with more intriguing execution.

Something intriguing happens in track "Dance on My Own." It's a song that seems to at least address something South Korea still has a hard time owning up to -- mental health issues and the isolation it breeds. Mixed with society's push for women especially to live up to an ideal that just isn't realistic, a song like "Dance on My Own" does a bit to give the conversation a palatable space to express itself, even if they don't go for it whole-heartedly. "U R" is sweet, simple, goes for less pop and more earnest tenderness.

Beyond that...more lamenting balladry, more saccharine pop. More of the same that while nearly comparable to their peers, isn't as well executed, isn't as interesting and doesn't do anything with the formula.

Ah well. If it ain't broke, and all that.


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