It’s not smart to mess with a winning formula, especially when that formula is responsible for a rise as meteoric as Twice’s. The girls’ mega-successful sound was built by producers Black Eyed Pilseung, but now we’re on the second single in a row without their aid. While February’s Knock Knock felt like a real departure from their past work, Signal pulls back to that initial formula, courtesy of producer (and agency head) Park Jinyoung. Aside from the obvious JYP Entertainment connection, it’s a pairing that makes sense from a musical standpoint. After all, last year’s Jinyoung-penned Very Very Very could have easily been a Twice track.
Signal opens with its most grating moment — an oft-repeated sing-talk refrain that would have been more effective if used sparingly. The song’s first thirty seconds are disorienting and a little aimless, but once the first verse kicks in Signal develops a sense of direction. The melody continues the clipped, kewpie doll type delivery that has epitomized most of the group’s iconic moments thus far. It’s effective, if not particularly surprising. Better is the airy chorus, which balances Twice’s penchant for simplified, earworm hooks with a bouncy pop refrain that feels fresh and perfectly suited for summer.
Though Signal has its messy moments, they’re tied together with solid production that understands how to utilize the group’s specific talents. Twice will never be a powerhouse vocal act, but their tones blend well together, with each member skirting past the other to deliver a quick piece of ear candy before yielding the spotlight to another. It’s assembly-line pop at its most efficient. Yes, there are elements that don’t quite click, but it all flies by so briskly that it’s hard not to get swept up in the playful fun of it all. And with Korea’s Twice obsession at its peak, we’re likely to get swept up for months to come.