From their sweet beginnings with “Cheer Up” and “TT” to sleeker productions like “Feel Special” and “I Can’t Stop Me”, Twice’s music has certainly evolved extensively throughout the past seven years. With JYP Entertainment’s announcement of the members’ contract renewals earlier this year, Twice’s first Korean release since then Between 1&2 illustrates a new chapter in the group’s career. While the album title refers to Twice’s bond with their fans Once, it also represents a link between their youthful and mature sides.

Twice’s latest title track “Talk that Talk” is a nice balance of the group’s cute and refined identities and is the most compelling out of all the pieces on the record. Fully embracing the current Y2K trend, the funky groove with lush synths and percussion make it feel fresh even when compared to Twice’s previous retro-inspired works.

Its choruses start off with Jihyo’s and Nayeon’s strong vocals during the first part and continue with gentler, breezy singing from Sana, Dahyun, and Tzuyu in the latter half. The lyrics are especially catchy with memorable lines like “Tell me what you want/Tell me what you need” and “Talk that talk, just one word/Talk that talk, L-O-V-E.” There are also some fun references to other Twice songs: “Yes or Yes,” “Push & Pull,” and “1 to 10.” Besides its uniqueness, “Talk that Talk” offers a familiar bubbly energy that is distinctively Twice and is a welcome addition to the group’s vibrant discography.

Building onto that liveliness, “Basics” is a particular standout among the B-sides with its sparkly synths, dreamy vocals, and dynamic raps. And despite its fast-paced and energetic rhythm, the dance-pop song manages to create a relaxed, easygoing atmosphere that is perfect for the summer. Penned by Chaeyoung, the lines for the chorus are a flirty, enjoyable earworm—“I wanna, wanna, wanna take it to the basics (Oh, yеah)/Do you want it all? Don’t rush, babe (Oh, yeah).” This track is a pleasant reminder of how much Twice excels at the bubblegum pop sound.

“Brave” is another impressive follow-up to the lead single as it embodies a comparable retro concept with a synthwave sound. Stylistically, though, the production is softer and more vulnerable as the members sing of the courage and bravery they gain from their fans:

Brave, ah-ah-ah-ah-ah

I’m never alone, so I’m never alone

Brave, brave, brave for ya

Brave, ah-ah-ah-ah-ah

My wounds fill up with you (Yeah)

I can’t live without you (Oh)

The added guitar and wistful “ooh-oohs” throughout the verses also contribute a somewhat melancholic sentiment along with the airy melody.

The rest of the songs on Between 1&2 are more in line with their mature image from recent years as Twice touch upon different genres that are uncharacteristic of the group’s music. “Queen of Hearts,” the second track on the album, has Twice channeling their inner Avril Lavigne with a pop-punk color reminiscent of the early 2000s.

Strong drum and guitar sounds take center stage, and the members take a bolder approach with their vocals in this song. However, perhaps because the genre has not really been explored by the group, there is a slight awkwardness in the members’ tones particularly from those with more tender voices. Interestingly, the lyrics are completely in English and lines such as “You ain’t ready for it/Watch me go, watch me go rule the world” and “Baby, I was born to rule/Yeah, I’m the queen, I’m the queen” markedly convey an attitude of power and confidence. Although it may be a bit tacky to some, “Queen of Hearts” is still a nice fit for the overall nostalgic theme of the record.

Similarly, Twice dip their toes into an unexpected style with “Gone” which features driving chords and bass lines that are prevalent in future bass. This track is the most divergent on the album and possibly the group’s discography as a whole as well. It feels grandiose with syncopated rhythms creating an atmosphere filled with tension and suspense during the verses and pre-choruses before exploding both instrumentally and vocally once the chorus hits. The last chorus is especially striking as Jihyo sings “I see the lies on the tip of your tongue” into an imposing high note with Nayeon finishing the rest of the chorus. With lyrics written by Dahyun, this piece best exhibits Twice’s burning desire for further musical growth. While “Gone” is not for everyone, it can definitely become some listeners’ most loved work by Twice.

On the other hand, “Trouble” feels like an organic result from the group’s natural progression to a more sophisticated image. This time, the Twice members take up the deep house genre with zestful percussion and tasteful keyboard sounds. Written and partly composed by Jihyo, “Trouble” is a lively song suitable for dancing and just letting loose. The trap-like rap portion that comes immediately after the first post-chorus, however, destroys the momentum that was enthusiastically built up to that point. Fortunately, this section is relatively short and we can keep on grooving to the second chorus. And though it does not offer anything considerably different from the countless number of house songs in K-pop, it sits comfortably in Between 1&2’s diverse tracklist.

Last is the final piece on the record “When We Were Kids” which is the pop ballad that you would expect on most K-pop releases. Musically, there isn’t much to talk about, but its strength lies mainly in its sentimental lyrics penned by Dahyun:

Invincible superheroes

I wanted to be an adult

Towards a higher, greener world

Remember when we were kids

I didn’t know that when I was young

If I can go back

You’ll be able to love me more

Remember when we were kids

This sounds ideal for a Twice concert ending where fans can cherish fond memories with the group and is a befitting end for the evocative album.

With familiar lightheartedness and surprising selections, Between 1&2 is a passionate release to kick off the group’s new chapter. Even though there is a mix of varying sounds, the tracks all have a nostalgic quality and feel sensible together. And having already tackled several different genres and concepts since their debut in 2015, the album emanates the members’ eagerness to continue developing their identity and add their own distinguishing color on unexplored genres. Twice’s next step may be unpredictable but is sure to be met with interest and intrigue as they enter a new stage in their remarkable career.

(Sports Dong-A. YouTube [1] [2]. Lyrics via Genius [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]. Images via JYP Entertainment.)