LOONA’s ‘X X’ Album Review
LOONA are well-known for dabbling in different genres and bringing in foreign sounds that have never been heard in K-pop before. They provide a cosmic sound but different from other GGs with such concepts (like WJSN); their sound is more spread-out, less concentrated, and focuses on expanding their repertoire through diverse genres.
The creative process of choosing songs for the albums was extensive, and the given tracks in this album have been chosen from among a thousand songs. So, the question is, does it deliver in quality?
Above that, there have always been high expectations for LOONA due to the widespread hype, so another question arises: does it live up to the hype?
01. “X X”
“The intro track ‘X X’ foreshadows that the album is completed at the opposite side of where [+ +] is.”
The intro is an amalgamation of heavy synths that collide against each other and hard-hitting percussion with automated voices sitting on top, with lots of syncopation.
It features a delay amongst all the instrumental congestion and definitely highlights the album’s sound; it has the heavy synths used in the title track. Certainly a suiting kickstarter for the album.
“The title track ‘Butterfly’ contains LOOΠΔ’s irreplaceable unique concepts. Mixing softness with dynamics, the track takes LOOΠΔ to another level with new beats and drops never heard in K-pop before, along with electronic sounds and melody.”
LOONA’s “Butterfly” follows LOONA’s use of puns and metaphors—two characteristics which are omnipresent throughout their discography. It uses the image of a butterfly to signify freedom and flying high while at the same time focuses on the concept of the butterfly effect. “With the flap of your wings, you can cause a tornado,” a direct analogy to LOONA’s use of butterfly imagery as a means of promoting worldwide acceptance, we can cause substantial changes through the smallest measures we take.
Sonically, the song is heavily supported by heavy synths and an ambient instrumental providing a dream-like and ethereal quality. Very suited for the “Trance” genre with the softest falsetto vocals merging with the instrumental. The high “fly like a butterfly” has been pitch-shifted and signifies the element of flying even higher to achieve your dreams and aspirations.
Producer G-High brings some changes in the three choruses with the last chorus and the bridge seeming like one entity. The track is wonderfully cohesive throughout. The percussion is strong and hard-hitting, a delightful contrast to the beginning pulsing piano and the ambience of the track. The track is further blessed with this quality of appearing calm and smooth yet dynamic at the same time.
However, there are shortcomings. The chorus gets repetitive after a few listens and the track doesn’t provide much variety. The track has the general problem of having unresolved tension with the chorus being totally instrumental. It is generally overproduced, with entire walls of different instrumental components hitting your eardrums at the time. G-High even joked about different songs being formed if you combine the teasers’ instrumentals in different ways.
Overall, the message of the track is its strongest point. It does provide an interesting listen the first few times but it’s low on the re-listenable factor. But, it is an intriguing and inspiring listen altogether that makes you wonder if you want to “stan LOONA” at this point.
“’Satellite’ starts calmly, but as music flows and orbits, the layers stack to double the listeners’ excitement.”
The track name is another one of LOONA’s comparisons, as the moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite, and they want to be the only one for the one they’re pursuing. Or it could mean that LOONA are the satellite that follow the path or fans called Orbits.
The track is the pop-heart of the album, being the most radio-friendly and appealing to the general public’s ear. It features minute yet fun motif-esque synths that are a constant in the background and help to build through the song. The track has an R&B edge to it with the archetypal LOONA synth.
The diatonic quality of the song almost lulls you into a sense of security, makes it seem predictable, but there’s a part in the beginning of the second verse that is chromatic, the part where Kim Lip sings, which is a pleasant musical surprise. The bridge is almost empty with the beginning synths, vocals, and new chords, then come in some peculiar glitchy talked verses which seem to be repeating, an interesting artistic choice, which is further followed by Go Won’s crunchy voice partially filling up the void, then a moment of silence that segways into Chuu’s belted C#5.
The track further highlights and solidifies LOONA’s sound, and is an important addition to the album.
“’Curiosity’ is a dream-pop number that draws you in with its mysterious aesthetics.”
This track definitely satiates the listener’s curiosity regarding the album, and Blockberry Creative has rightfully described it as “mysterious”; mysteriousness rouses curiosity.
“Curiosity” is an electro-R&B track infused with future bass and funk, with unpredictable chord changes, major-minor mixture, and plenty of chromaticism. The chorus instrumental is spacey with the swelling synths and unforeseeable vocal melody; it is a point of coagulation.
There is vocal dexterity thrown here and there with the melismas and glissandos. The bridge brings the synths to the forefront and we get a tiny taste of the bare instrumental. The track almost has an Odd Eye Circle sound to it, but its adherence to synths perfectly fits the full group.
“‘Colors’ has the LOOΠΔ universe dissolved into the track, desiring for each other’s colors and dye each other to become love portrayed with a drop beat.”
As the description suggests, the track plays around with different colors. As someone with synesthesia, I see oranges and yellows with this track.
“Colors” is an EDM-influenced track which follows LOONA’s typical trend of smooth yet dynamic. It has funk influences as well and it rests on a fancy bouncy beat and twinkling bell like synths. It segways into a dancehall-inspired chorus which is smooth rather than explosive and sets a certain ambience for the song.
The track manages to occupy the ear of the listener throughout and there’s always a multitude of musical elements present throughout the song.
05. “Where You At”
“‘Where You At’ was a previously prepared track along with ‘One Way’ of yyxy in LOOΠΔ the Ballad album. It is a pop-ballad song with melodies so powerful that the members of LOOΠΔ memorized the whole song with just one listen.”
The song almost has a motivational, inspirational vibe and it uses such sentimental chords, being the ending ballad. It’s a warm and gentle album closer, with not much variation, but decent delivery of emotion.
Not my type of track, but not bad at all for a ballad.
The album is consistent in its delivery throughout makes a food addition to LOONA’s discography. It is definitely one of LOONA’s poppier ventures but it is done tastefully with a nice even column of sound throughout.
The tracks are eclectic yet with chords which are very much within LOONA’s wheelhouse.
A pristinely produced and clear-cut pop album.