Woollim Entertainment has more than their share of managerial issues (when is that fabled Infinite comeback, again?), but one thing I’ve always appreciated is that they develop a strong, recognizable sound for their artists. Rather than jump from trendy producer to trendy producer, a group like Lovelyz has largely stuck with quirky production team One Piece. But with Twinkle (종소리), the girls have been paired with promising up-and-comers 1Take and TAK, who’ve primarily worked with boy groups up to this point. It’s a match that works, even if Twinkle doesn’t dramatically expand their sound.
Lovelyz’ trademark electronic base is intact, but it’s been revved up to a more aggressively uptempo level. Twinkle opens with a chime-like synth refrain that hints at stereotypical Christmas tropes without being totally beholden to the holiday season. This is fortunate, because the rest of the instrumental has a far wider reach. Lovelyz’ music has often taken cues from j-pop, but Twinkle sees them directly inspired by the driving techno-pop of Japanese groups like Perfume. I almost wish they’d push even further into this sound. The song’s weakest elements are also the most specific to k-pop — namely, that spoken, aegyo-infused pre-chorus.
Thankfully, the soaring melody that makes up Twinkle‘s chorus is one of the group’s most robust efforts in some time. The key may be pitched high, but the girls attack the refrain with an addictive sense of bombast that matches the unflagging energy of the busy instrumental. Over the course of their career, Lovelyz have spent much effort establishing a cute, innocent image, but I think it’s time to move onto more daring material. Twinkle offers a small glimpse at what that transformation might sound like, hopefully paving the way for more interesting things to come.