The amount of excite I’m feeling right now is palpable. I’m so excited to finally listen to what these girls can do as a collective. I do really like the odd unit songs that were released prior to this so I’m hoping I stumble across some other songs that really tickle my fancy.
LOONAs long awaited debut album [+ +] was released 20 August 2018 with title track “Hi High”. August was a great month for releases so I feel like Korea wanted me to have a good birthday month. I have been anticipating LOONAs debut because I love their whole concept as well as the odd sub-unit pre-debut release. I’m not overly familiar with the individual members right now but I’m excited to get to know all twelve, yes twelve, members ASAP.
Going into this album I’m expecting nothing. I know that sounds really bad but I do mean it in a good way – so far, the sub-unit releases have been all over the place, covering all different kinds of genres, so I don’t know what to expect!
First track “++” is a nice intro to the album. I can definitely see how it transitions easily into the next track, their title song “Hi High”. It’s light with an electric guitar, finger snaps for percussion and synths that draw the listener in.
I’ve already given my first listen review to the second track and title song “Hi High” – if you want to read that, see (here) – but I do have some things to add. I’m finding this song easier to listen to without being distracted by the visual of the MV and also the fact I’ve already heard it. Having the intro leading into this song really helped and the things I found annoying in my MV first look are no longer an issue – I actually really like this song. The high note in the song was everything and I honestly don’t even remember hearing it when I first watched the MV.
When the MV for the third track “FavOriTe” was released I didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea it was going to sound the way it does and I immediately fell in love with the beauty of the MV as well as how amazing it sounded. I stated in my “Hi High” first look that I preferred this song out of the two and it’s still true now. I love the funkiness and the way it incorporates influences of funk and swing as well as having the briefest reference to The Chemical Brothers – I’m unsure what it is specifically or if anyone else has heard the same thing but to me there are moments within the verses that remind me of them. I love the bass, the song progression and the ridiculous amount of female empowerment I feel through this song. No doubt this last point was premeditated – this song was the first time we were able to hear and see all twelve girls together and what better way to show it than to strut it out in the most amazing of ways.
Fourth track “열기 (9)” was the song I was most excited for due to the involvement of Canadian R&B singer Daniel Caesar – he’s my favourite Western artist at the moment and my amazement over him being credited on LOONAs debut album absolutely blows my mind. I got goosebumps when the beat and bass hit in the chorus which hasn’t happened with any other song in the album thus far. I like how it’s a little slower but does have roots in the dancehall/island beat realm which is nice. It hasn’t been a sound I’ve heard from the group so far, unless it’s been featured in a sub-unit song that I haven’t quite heard yet, but I love it. It’s a good direction for the group and I love how the song maintains it’s tempo without straying too far. I just really like this song a lot.
Fifth track “Perfect Love” is more of what I was expecting from this album – light and poppy. I wouldn’t say it’s a stand out track in comparison to the other songs but I feel like they’ve introduced another genre in it. To me, this song is more EDM/house sounding than anything else on the album. In saying that the music isn’t overly aggressive and doesn’t overpower the vocals. Speaking of the vocals, I like how they keep their tone light and high-pitched. The more the song goes on the more I like it. I don’t know if I’m just used to the sound of it or the catchiness has gotten to me.
The final track “Stylish” isn’t at all what I though it would be. I’m immediately reminded of earlier sub-unit songs and I love it. The harmonies and backing vocals are great – they made me get goosebumps again. When the pre-chorus hits with absolutely zero music, I broke out in chills. This is also an electronic based song but simplistic enough through the verses with plenty of room for the vocals to shine through.
All in all, this album is fantastic. While I do wish there was some nice rap sections, I enjoyed in nonetheless which is weird for me. I think where the album lacked in rap parts it made up for it with impressive vocals and some really nice melody and beat progression. I haven’t heard an album that’s as good as this in a long time and considering it’s by a girl group, I’m impressed at myself and how much I’ve grown as a K-Pop listener and appreciator.
My rating: 9.5/10
Honestly, I’m going to buy this album. If there’s any physical copies left because I know they were limited. If I manage to find one, they’ll be the first physical album I own from a girl group. Yay for me, yay for LOONA.
What did you all think of LOONAs debut? Were there any songs that stood out for you? Did it sound the way you wanted it to? Let me know in the comments below or message me on Twitter!