Despite the fact that its full group hasn’t yet officially debuted, the ambitious LOONA project has already spawned two sub-units. The first (LOONA 1/3) offered a bright, pop-driven album before returning with the surprisingly moody Sonatine. The second (LOONA Odd Eye Circle) took on an edgier persona, resulting in two of the project’s best singles so far. Now we have the third and final sub-unit, LOONA yyxy. This quartet brings together the remainder of the group’s members, and is notable for featuring a collaboration with Canadian dream-pop artist Grimes.
But although this international pairing is exciting, the prospect of love4eva got me pumped for a different reason. The song marks the return of producers E-Tribe after a long absence from k-pop title tracks. This is the team responsible for Girls’ Generation’s immortal Gee, as well as many other iconic idol hits. And with love4eva, they’ve definitely taken inspiration from Gee’s light, hooky structure.
Maybe all of this was too good to be true, because the song doesn’t have nearly the impact it should. Its overdose of aegyo vocals feels misplaced and extremely limiting. Given the amount of hype surrounding this group, it’s helpful to imagine love4eva as a single delivered by any other rookie artist. Without the LOONA name attached to the track, I think many listeners would be far less impressed with the final product.
Opening with a spacey spoken intro from Grimes, the song quickly launches into its super-sweet verse. With a rhythmic base reminiscent of IOI’s Very Very Very, these initial moments are little more than a series of cutesy girl group tropes. This is compounded by a breathy pre-chorus that sounds like Lovelyz at their most insufferably infantilized. Too much of the song is delivered in this saccharine style, and there aren’t enough contrasting breaks to add interest. This can work for some girl groups (early SNSD, Twice, Lovelyz, etc.), but it’s an awkward match with LOONA. When the track finally hints at a bit of edge, like the layered vocals in the chorus or the glitchy instrumental breakdown, it’s a reminder that love4eva could have been so much more.