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TWICE's ‘With YOU-th’ is the Album We Have Been Waiting For

an ICYMT Music Review by Toyosi Begbaaji


With YOU-th is TWICE’s 13th studio EP, and their most confident piece of work to date! Filled to the brim with bops and bangers that still fall within a cohesive sound and vision, With YOU-th is the pivot point from their period of "youth", showcasing that the members of TWICE are only just getting started in establishing their worldwide domination.


In this review, I’ll give my thoughts on the individual songs and the album/comeback as a whole. Fair warning: this review is pretty subjective, but I'm just enthusiastic!

(Feel free to listen along to the album on your preferred music streaming service!)


I GOT YOU:

 ‘I GOT YOU is the pre-release/lead  single from With YOU-th. In this all-English track, the members of TWICE sing of the love shared between the nine of them, with lyrics that can be more widely applied to friendships in general. It has dreamy, star-like keys and synths throughout, with an upbeat kicking tempo that explodes into each chorus.

The highlight of the song is the end of the bridge, where a brief, quarter-note pause in the music adds needed fire to carry you through the song’s outro. I cried the first time I listened to this song because the conveyed emotions were so palpably real and intense. I’d say this is one of TWICE’s most emotionally-charged pop songs to date, on par with 2019’s ‘Feel Special’.


ONE SPARK:

It’s hard enough being the follow-up track to ‘I GOT YOU’—and the sampled, generic-sounding rock guitar opening worried me that this title track might end up half-baked and toothless. Thankfully, after a confidently cheeky giggle, ‘ONE SPARK’ quickly launches into a similarly upbeat instrumental, differentiated from ‘I GOT YOU’ by this new drum-and-bass style of snares and syncopated kick drums.

The best thing about ‘ONE SPARK’ is that it, quite literally, gets better with each new oncoming section of the song—the opening verse is leapfrogged by the pre-chorus, which is leapfrogged by a thrilling chorus, and then on and on until the song reaches its close. I dare anyone to listen to this song and not feel compelled to get up and dance. While definitely not as strong on its own compared to ‘I GOT YOU’, ‘ONE SPARK’ always gives me “the good feels” when I listen. And I especially want to shout-out Jeongyeon’s voice in the second chorus—it’s so full and piercing.


RUSH:

No lie—‘RUSH’ knocked me flat on my ass during first listen. I couldn’t believe it—TWICE were returning to the soundscape well of 2022’s ‘BASICS’, one of my favourite TWICE songs ever. And not only that, they were leaning fully into the “Jersey Club meets Liquid Drum-n-Bass” genre made popular by musical peer, PinkPantheress. I settled in for this first listen, ready to see how TWICE would tackle this genre.

RUSH’ is—now—my all-time favourite TWICE song; so effortlessly, ‘RUSH’ tosses its hat into the ring of Best K-Pop Jersey Club Songs, sounding timeless and modern all at the same time. The girls’ voices have never sounded better, and the all together “cheerleader-core” of it all is just too sweet. I love the driving four-on-the-floor quarter note kick drum during the pre-chorus, as the girls sing the main melodic line in unison with a plucking harp. The harp throughout is such a delicious addition to an already scrumptious song, mimicking the girls’ sweet and resonant voices as they sore between high note runs and mid-octave rapping. And then—the bridge! It’s short but impactful, letting Mina and a carefree piano carry us into the final chorus with a leap, glide, and drift to the song's ending.


RUSH’ is like the little sister of ‘BASICS’ and the outfit-matching best friend of ‘Super Shy’ by NewJeans, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. My favourite line to belt? “눈치 없이 네가 필요해 빨리 (trans: I’m utterly clueless, I need you quickly).”


NEW NEW:

After three pulse-pounding upbeat tracks in a row, ‘NEW NEW’ arrives to help mellow the mood without killing the vibe. 

Still a peppy pop song in the vein of tracks like ‘Fanfare’ or ‘GET LOUD’, ‘NEW NEW’ is summer-y and snappy with a nicely forceful energy. Because this song sounds the most like music of TWICE’s past, it has to do extra heavy-lifting to make itself standout among the rest of this album’s more evolved genres and soundscapes. Fortunately, ‘NEW NEW’ does exactly that with its chorus, showcasing why this song made the album. That chorus is so catchy and enjoyable; it begets re-listening.


Unfortunately, Chaeyoung’s rap here is definitely the weakest of the album, and dampens the song’s quality just the slightest. That being said, it’s catchy, and I’m always one to develop an ironic appreciation for things I previously deemed ‘bad’; so, you’ll be happy to know that I now rap Chae’s verse every single time it comes on.


BLOOM:

Not too much to say on this one. While ‘RUSH’ is my personal favourite, ‘BLOOM’ is unquestionably and objectively the best song on this album. Full and rich and lush in its instrumental and vocals, ‘BLOOM’ shows that TWICE have such a deft understanding of their own sound (and placement within K-Pop as a genre) that they know listeners will feel the sonically connective tissue between this song and those before it. Liquid d-n-b makes a return, but with extra liquidity in the synths, sounding akin to house-style EDM. The vocals here are some of the best TWICE have ever put down, with perfectly stacked harmonies and perfectly timed ad-libs. The bridge to this song gives me chills every time.


YOU GET ME:

I obviously knew that ‘YOU GET ME’ would connect to ‘I GOT YOU’, given its titling similarity and placement as the album’s closer. I did not, however, expect this song to hit me so much harder than ‘I GOT YOU’; I truly didn’t think it was possible.

YOU GET ME’ is a perfect album closer—it’s optimistic and carefree as the girls return to the theme of love between friends. In doing so, other songs on the album that might’ve originally read as wholly romantic can now be seen as their own admissions of platonic affection. TWICE capture the sensation of being, at first, alone and longing, and then how it feels when the support from others gives you a sense of security you’ve actually longed for. When Mina sings, “Lately, I’ve been feeling like everything’s enough, 너외 함께라면 (trans: if I’m with you),” I can’t help choking up every single time.


Final Thoughts:

I first became aware of the girl-group side of K-Pop in 2017, with the popularity of ‘Likey’; I became a casual listener of TWICE in 2018, with the release of ‘Dance the Night Away’; and I’ve been (semi-)officially a ONCE since 2019, with the release of ‘Feel Special’. I’ve been lucky to see the real-time transition of TWICE—from the laughingstock of domestic and international fandoms for their vocals and choreography, to performers and musicians that command respect and praise for the sheer quality they bring to the genre.

I knew, logically, that With YOU-th would be capital-g-Good—I didn’t realise the album would be so…resolute. I didn’t realise that TWICE would be dipping their toe into the world of intentionally-structured albums driven by cyclical semi-narratives that enhance the listening (and re-listening) experience. I didn’t realise it’d be a true and actual ‘no-skip album’ in the plainest and purest sense. Whenever I put on this album, I must listen to it—start to finish, in order, at least twice (TWICE!), or else I will lose all semblance of domestication.


Jokes aside, the most poignant moment on the album comes in the final lyrics of ‘YOU GET ME,’ where the refrain, “You got me, I got you, we got it for life,” rings out in the following silence of album’s end. If you have the album set to loop, you’ll find yourself back at the top, de capo, back at ‘I GOT YOU’, the start of the Hero’s Journey anew, in a way. Suddenly, the album’s title takes on new meaning—when TWICE say ‘YOU GET ME’, ‘I GOT YOU’, and With YOU-th, the YOU is you: as in, their fandom, ONCE. With YOU-th, then, is a show of platonic affection amongst the members of TWICE and with their fans who’ve managed to propel them to new heights despite numerous setbacks since their 2015 debut.


I feel proud thinking of TWICE’s journey to this album, and hopeful thinking ahead to their future. As a fan of theirs, this album is a gift that I shall treasure as long as I love and appreciate music.


ALBUM RANKING:
  1. BLOOM

  2. RUSH

  3. I GOT YOU

  4. YOU GET ME

  5. ONE SPARK

  6. NEW NEW


What did you think of the album? Which song was your favourite? What’s your ranking of the songs on ‘With YOU-th’ by TWICE? Tell us below in the comments!

**personal favourites

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