Nov 16, 2015
Twice Are Off To A Great Start With "The Story Begins"
I'm so in love with Twice at the moment, and I feel like they're a girl group that has potential of becoming quite big in the future as well which makes their debut all the more exciting. This years' girl groups have been killing it, and the rookie groups have been especially impressive on the female side. Twice may be the last "big" girl group debut we see in 2015, meaning they come from a larger company with a somewhat familiar name, and if they are then this debut will be a great way to end this lively year. "The Story Begins" is an perfectly suitable name for their first mini album because it is right here their journey starts, and it is a promising one indeed.
The album opens up with the title track: "Like Ooh-Ahh". At first this song threw me off quite a bit, as I wrote in my review of the MV that came along with it. It starts out very promising, with the flute in the backing track and the interesting drum beats. The first verse is very sparse musically, which does make the song sound like it could be quite hollow, but with Tzuyu's bridge it intensifies and almost switches musical direction. For me it at least the transition sounded a bit off, and the cheerleader chanting of "I just wanna fall in love" right before the chorus as well clashed with the mysterious, alluring vibe of the verses.
The chorus itself is quite alright; it has a punching bass line and a steady beat and sounds very fresh and energetic. Like I said in my album review it reminded me of kind of a western mainstream pop song, one that I could see younger pop artists do, which I don't think is a bad thing at all. It's obvious this comeback is targeted towards the younger generations as they're trying to engage new fans rather than recruiting fans from other groups', and I definitely think the song serves its purpose. It's light, fun and youthful, and has both a feminine, bubbly energy as well as confidence and sass.
There's no way she should be singing less than Sana and Mina yet she does, and I can't wrap my head around it. Additionally I have to say that although the song is well made in the sense that it suits the audience it's made for and it is a fun and upbeat song, it's actually not that great from a sole musical standpoint. It's catchy, yes, but it's by far the least engaging song on the album.
OK, enough about the title track. The second song is "Do It Again" and it is one of the original songs the members performed on "Sixteen" as the Major and Minor teams. I remember hoping that it would be included on this album and I was ecstatic to find out that it was. However I can't seem to like this version as much, and that for a few reasons. First of all the production of the song is quite underwhelming, and some of the vocals sound over-processed and edited, making them sound even weaker than they already are.
Furthermore I can't seem to enjoy the line distribution as much in this version, and maybe it's because I'm used to the Minor one I listened to back then, but for example I can't understand why they put Momo on the second rap verse. I know it's two verses that are meant for two members to handle, but Chaeyoung should've honestly just done both of them. I've also realized this song is much better performed live, as the choreography and stage performance truly makes the song appear in a nicer light compared to the studio version, and that's always a annoying thing to come to terms with. Nonetheless I still think the song is awesome, and it has that girly sassiness and confidence to it that seems to be what Twice is going for.
"I Think I'm Crazy" is the third track and the second song on "The Story Begins" to be recycled from "Sixteen", as it was the original song only the Major team performed. I didn't really like it at all back then, but this version I can definitely get behind. Maybe it's because the vocal parts and lines have been switched and it makes it better, but listening to it now I do think this song is quite the jam.
It's a pretty standard pop tune with a catchy but harmless chorus and an infectious hook, which is a well-known concept that can either hit or miss. "I Think I'm Crazy" isn't the most innovative nor groundbreaking song on the album, as it has a sound could be described as generic, but I do think it has its own charm anyway. Like I said before I the vocals sound great, and it masters balancing a feminine, youthful tone without going into the overly cute, innocent territory. It's not my favorite song on the album, but it's still a very solid B-track.
The structure of "Truth" is slightly different from the other songs on the album, and the low-intensity beat and slower pace in the chorus surely makes it stand out. I do think there are some strange transitions in it, like the jump from the brass heavy verses to the slow, almost dragged out chorus and back to the part afterwards, where the tempo and backing track changes drastically. It isn't a transition you would react too harshly to and it doesn't sound bad, but it's noticable. Apart from that I really like the song, and it's always good to insert a slower song between more upbeat ones to keep the flow balanced. Additionally I really appreciate the vocal parts, despite the line distribution being a bit uneven, and Jihyo's high note at the end is everything.
Drums are all the focus of the next track "Candy Boy", which includes marching band inspired drum beats as its main focus point. Musically this song is very similar to both "Do It Again" and "I Think I'm Crazy", but in different ways. I do like that there is a sense of theme between the songs, but yet they have very different structures and melodies. "Candy Boy" is also quite a sweet song, but it has a little spunk and attitude to it which I think also goes to say for all the tracks on the album; bubbly but confident.
At first I didn't think I would like this track as much as I do now because the chorus most likely rubs some people the wrong way. I too wasn't a huge fan at first, but the structure with the bouncing back and forth between the "My candy boy, my baby" hook and Sana's part in between has me hooked. The vocals are strong and clear as well and finally Jungyeon gets to sing the chorus. It's a miracle!
The final song on "The Story Begins" is "Like A Fool" and I will have to say that it's probably my favorite track on the album. It's basically as close to a ballad as we're going to get without really getting anywhere close to being one, which I think is a wise decision on their company's part. Although the group has a few stable vocalists the majority aren't very strong vocally, and them doing a dramatic OST-like ballad would highlight their weaknesses rather than disguising them. "Like A Fool" is instead a mid-tempo track with a mellow guitar-piano backing track as well as some harmonica layers, and the girls sound emotional enough without being too melodramatic.
I especially enjoy the chorus of the song, with the contrast between the initial high melody and the low-toned, almost devastated "Like I'm a fool".
Again we have Jihyo, Nayeon and Jungyeon taking the lead along with Sana, and they all sound wonderful. Although Jihyo might be the best vocalist in technical terms I personally find Nayeon's vocal tone most enjoyable to listen to, and she sounds amazing in this song.
After listening to the entire mini album I must admit my amazement with this debut. While I initially was skeptical towards choosing to introduce the members via "Sixteen" I can't say it wasn't helpful in getting to know them before their actual debut and low-key turning me into a fan, and I think I'm not the only one.
"The Story Begins" is such a good title for this mini, because it is just the beginning for them and with a start like this it's only bound to get better. What I find the most amusing is that sometimes with albums you appreciate the production quality and can objectively see how well-written songs are and how good the execution is, but you aren't personally attached to any of the tracks. This mini album is the complete opposite, because the quality isn't the greatest and the production value isn't the best I've heard, but the individual songs are so awesome and I feel like in the end that's what matters. All the tracks on this mini are total jams and there's also a clear theme in what kind of sound they're going for. With "The Story Begins" Twice have secured a place in my heart, and if they continue this way I'm sure we can expect even better things in the future.
Highlights: "Do It Again", "Candy Boy", "Like A Fool" (but honestly all of them)
Least Favorite: "Like Ooh-Ahh"
Total Score: 4,2/5