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Rant and Rave: ‘Formula of Love: O+T=<3’ spotlights musical chemistry

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With their charm and impeccable choreography, TWICE never fails to uplift their audience’s mood, leading to their awe-inspiring evolution capturing the hearts of many fans. The group debuted with cutesy tunes and progressed to more mature tracks like the assertive Yes Or Yes and the gritty Perfect World

Today, TWICE is well-known for their cute and peppy image seen in songs such as Like Ooh-Ahh, Cheer Up, and Alcohol-Free. But don’t let that fool you as they can also pull off bold concepts seen in I Can’t Stop Me and Hell in Heaven. Their third full length effort now sees the group dealing with the illusion of love and their ultimate rediscovery of themselves and their agency.

Formula of Love: O+T=<3 showcases their versatility in 15 original tracks, featuring distinct takes on love and sadness. This refreshing blend of charming and daring concepts chronicles the stories and feelings when one is accompanied by their lover. Underscoring their all-around chemistry in their performances, TWICE’s latest release gives us a taste of their formula for concocting the feeling of love. 

The story continues

The group’s growth is clearly seen in the album’s deep cuts written by the members. In the vein of Phoebe Bridgers’s Punisher record, the Jihyo-penned Cactus narrates the thoughts of someone desperately seeking solitude and companionship. Dahyun’s writing contribution comes with Cruel, a deceptively merry tune about a toxic relationship.

Living up to its title, Icon is TWICE’s version of a flex song as they ponder on their legacy as an idol girl group. This retrospective track is brimming with moments of palpable personality like the playful self-deprecation as Nayeon belts, “I don’t even need to turn the mic on.”

Album closer The Feels is the group’s first full English single that doubles as a celebration of their career. On the surface, it is a simple love song tinged with late 90s plastic pop. However, its slightly off-kilter lyrical structure and catchy post-chorus is quintessentially TWICE. This takes the track leagues ahead of other K-Pop efforts to break into the West. 

A wonderful mix

The album plays with different musical elements to accentuate the songs’ themes. As the complexities of desire, excitement, and sorrow take over, the album counters with a healthy mix of heartfelt ballads, peppy tunes, and hiphop beats. Funky bass tunes and intermediate beats give tracks like Moonlight, Cruel, Real You, F.I.L.A (Fall In Love Again), and Push And Pull a retro, R&B flair. This unique flavor in their music captivates their audience and puts them on their feet to feel the groove. The tracklist maintains cohesion while avoiding monotony through a variety in tempos and the use of synths and 808s. 

Meanwhile, title track Scientist continues the group’s streak of peppy anthems with upbeat tempos and charming gimmicks. While it deviated from TWICE’s previous title tracks by lacking a catchy refrain that non-Korean speakers can repeatedly sing to, its endearing nature succeeds in constructing an optimistic vibe.

The group makes us feel drama and angst as they continue to branch out to mature and edgy concepts in Last Waltz, Espresso, and Hello. The unique musical compositions these tracks carry amplify the group’s capability to address bolder concepts, further adding onto the overall flair of the group’s discography. 

Getting the feels

On this record, TWICE’s sultry side is on full display. Nayeon’s lower register and Jeongyeon’s naturally husky timbre aid in building the vintage aesthetic of Rewind. Mina’s soft vocal elegance jumpstarts Scientist and Candy with a sense of maturity.

TWICE further proves their versatility thanks to Momo’s and Sana’s nasal vocals, creating excellent dynamics as they sing the tracklist’s most memorable one-liners. Meanwhile, Jihyo pairs her husky voice with effortless cooing in Icon. On the same track, Chaeyoung perfects her rap verse with swag and spunk.

Formula Of Love: O+T=<3 also marks the first time TWICE has released subunit tracks where only a portion of the members are on each song. Push And Pull by Jihyo, Sana, and Dahyun highlights their mastery in expertly navigating 90s R&B production. Meanwhile, Jeongyeon, Mina, and Tzuyu’s reggae-inspired 1, 3, 2 places their sensual vocals front and center. Finally, Nayeon, Momo, and Chaeyoung save the trap-flavored Hello with their dedicated performances. 

This album is a carefully curated demonstration of artists who have perfected their craft. If there’s one thing that this album proves, it is that TWICE—six years into their career—is far from running out of steam. They have not only made the formula of love, but also that of a legend. Known to constantly top themselves after every release, it is truly exciting to see where TWICE goes from here.

Rating: 4.0/4.0

By Addie Holgado

By Andy Jaluague

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