LOONA do not need to be any more confusing or convoluted than they already are, and the name of their new song is not helping things. It’s the most needlessly obscure title since Decalcomanie. Sonatine was a 1993 Japanese gangster movie, but I doubt that that was the inspiration for this particular track. I suppose the word could just as easily be a modified form of the musical terms “sonata” or “sonatina,” which honestly makes more sense in the context of Sonatine‘s (알 수 없는 비밀) orchestral instrumentation. Either way, the confusion is actually a pretty good indicator of the song itself. It’s really not what you’d imagine from a girl group title track.
As soon as Sonatine begins, its symphonic swirls and listless melody seem to point toward a beat drop that never materializes. Even a minute in, I expected the song to suddenly transform into a more typical dance track. Instead, the entire three-and-half minutes passes by without a hint of percussion. It’s a pretty ballsy move, and one that might have paid off big time if paired with a more dynamic melody.
Sonatine‘s instrumental is gorgeous, if a bit delicate and restrained. Few groups are willing to travel this far into orchestral territory. Rather than tack a synthesized string section onto a straightforward k-pop track, Sonatine feels rooted in the genre. Modern electronic flourishes do pop up here and there, but they’re hardly a driving force. Unfortunately, the song’s drowsy melody is less impressive. It feels like the production is leading the arrangement, rather than the other way around. The girls’ soft vocals create a dreamlike atmosphere, never pushing past the instrumental in any memorable way. This makes for a pretty piece of music, but not a very engaging title track.