IZ*ONE – 'HEART*IZ'
1. Hey. Bae. Like it.
4. Really Like You
7. I Want to be a Cat
8. Happy Goodbye
IZ*ONE is back, fresh off the heels of their Japanese activities with a brand new EP. 'HEART*IZ' has 8 tracks, including the title track "Violeta" and two Japanese singles (redone in Korean). This is their second EP.
"Hey. Bae. Like it." starts out cute. While I never really considered IZ*ONE one of those cute bands, this one might help me change my mind. There seem to be a few bands in this rookie girl group renaissance that are milking this. The song picks up and gets better as it moves along. They delve into Spanish on "Violeta," their title track. And this tune has a lot in common with "La Vie En Rose" from their last album, and not just a foreign title. It sounds so similar it could be a part two. I know groups like Momoland were doing this, but I didn't expect it from IZ*ONE. Like it's predecessor, though, this is a serious bop, with a different line distribution (Hyewon gets more lines). I like some of the layering and subtlety that kicks off "Highlight." This tune does a really good job of building suspense in the main verses, and the bass really kills here. I like how stripped down this tune is. The vocals are what carries the chorus. It's a pretty good song.
"Really Like You" drops a ballad into the middle of this. I'm not sure how I feel about this, but it's not too bad. The stripped down nature of "Highlight" helps offset this, so it's not like they brought us up with club-banger and then dropped this tune right after it. I like it -- it sounds sweet with the higher-pitched voices and has some elements in common with folk. They cross into cute and bubbly with "Airplane." But again the transition isn't bad, probably because they do it quite well. And it's a nice jam, light and refreshing, and gets you bouncing. If I were to choose a title track for this, I'd have a hard time choosing between what they went with and this song, "Up." I like it. It's got the pounding beats and some nice instrumental elements, but overall I think it's cuter than "Violeta." It definitely is crazy catchy.
The last two are Korean versions of singles from their Japanese debut. I hadn't heard them before, so I'm including them here. "I Want to be a Cat" has a different sound to it, and is complex enough to be a title track. They really put some thought into the arrangements, and it's sort of a low key dance track. The original was sung by an unofficial sub-unit consisting of Sakura, Minju, Nako, Yena, and Yuri. They mainly sing the first verse on this one but bring the rest of the girls in after that. It is nice and relaxing. "Happy Goodbye" sounds for all the world like a J-pop song, or at least what you'd usually associate with the genre (BABYMETAL and Morning Musume notwithstanding). It's cute, catchy, light, and repetitive. This doesn't mean it's a bad song, but it does have that unmistakable flavor that borrows from the standard elements of a Japanese pop tune.
This is a different mix of IZ*ONE. I like the fact that more girls have more lines on this release, and Hyewon and Minju's raps straddle the line between sick and adorable. I also like the fact that they exhausted what they did in Produce 48 so they had to come up with brand new tunes rather than tired retreads (no more "Pick Me"). I enjoyed this one, and think it's a pity they'll only be around for a couple of years.
The girls of IZ*ONE star in the MV for "Violeta."
And we finally have a video that doesn't really scream "I'm cheap." That's not to say they spent a lot of money on this one, but I liked how they took what they had and figured out how to all make it look cool. And they do it quite well.
Things that don't look that cheap are contemplating your reflection in a prism-like mirror, jewelry that sparkles like diamonds, the hotel area with ornate chandeliers, artistic shots with multi-hued lighting, et al. Yeah, on the surface they probably save a lot of money over, say, expensive CGI, but they know what they have to work with.
What's low-budget? That blue stage, likely done with mirrors or something. And what is it even supposed to be? Shots of members with flowers. While it matches the title, those still could have been done better.
And I really like the costumes. While they don't stand out too much, they don't look like every other group and tend to be quite feminine. I don't really get a (G)-IDLE vibe from looking at them like I do with some other groups. There's also not a tendency to sex these girls up. There's no need for that, they're lovely just the way they are.
The choreo wasn't bad, either. I like how these girls move, and the fact that they packed all of em in one shot was a pretty nice feat. And the choreo was meant to be all flowing moves and reminded me at times of the petals of a flower. This is no accident, thanks to their clothing choices, and is a nice effect.
So, now that I've praised it and groused about it, you're probably wondering where I stand. This one gets my seal of approval.
MV SCORE: 8.6
ALBUM SCORE: 8.3