LOONA is a chameleon. After delivering a title track with Bollywood inspirations, thumping beats and a fiery attitude in their 2021 mini-album &, the 12-member crew fully returns to the scene with a collection of songs set to be a perfect fit for the summer. Much has happened since the group last released a project: namely, their official Japanese debut and coming in second place in Season 2 of MNET’s reality competition series Queendom — both of which have managed to expand their reach and further establish their place as one of K-Pop’s most promising acts.
Flip That is both an exodus and a homecoming. The mini-album’s visual and sonic aesthetic may come off as a shock to anyone who has discovered LOONA in the past three years, but lots of its elements can be traced back to the group’s very beginnings — a time in which only a third of its full lineup was singing, mostly to mellow, warm production. There was an emphasis on showcasing their diverse vocal abilities back then, a strength that is fortunately highlighted again in their latest offering, likely due to the inclusion of more tracks that demand singing instead of rapping or shouting. All 12 members have continuously been able to shine through in their music, but being able to hear them so clearly has been a treat for the audience.
For Korean girl groups, having a summer hit can be a groundbreaking career moment. The heart of this album, “Flip That,” accomplishes goal of releasing a summer song. It’s a very dynamic yet relaxed tropical house track full of fun and replay value. While the concept isn’t necessarily inventive, its execution couldn’t be more impeccable. LOONA has mastered the art of transmitting pure, unadulterated bliss through their music — and though this title track is their first attempt at a summer song, its quality is enough to let it sit besides some of their peers’ sunny hits, such as Red Velvet’s ‘Power Up,’ and TWICE’s ‘Alcohol-Free.’
The whole project is mostly dominated by smooth synths and an ethereal feel — with the exception of “Pose,” which had been previously released for the season finale of Queendom. The track is in line with LOONA’s past approaches to “girl crush” concepts, featuring chants, pompous lyrics and darker beats. While it is full of energy and its singers carry it well by creating an enticing atmosphere, it largely suffers from being misplaced in the context of this mini-album and from having a chorus that doesn’t live up to the excitement of its past verses. It will likely serve the group, however, for a thrilling opportunity to display their captivating stage presence as they embark on their first ever world tour later this year.
LOONA’s ability to elevate a track beyond its songwriting and production through emoting can’t be understated. There are quite a few moments on this record that are filled with suspense and drama, and it’s how the members embody each theme that makes them so believable. “Need U,” akin to 2020 mini-album 12:00‘s “Universe,” seamlessly shows off their capacity to navigate through tension and personify human emotion. A trip through this group’s discography will demonstrate that their b-sides are never a way of simply filling up their projects, but an integral part of them. The bubbly “Pale Blue Dot” keeps up the pace and invites to heal through captivating high notes, while “Playback” wraps things up with some of Flip That‘s most magnetic melodies and truly impressive polish.
— 이달의 소녀(LOOΠΔ) (@loonatheworld) June 25, 2022
It is worth noting that this is LOONA’s most cohesive work in a while, even with the inclusion of “Pose,” which adds to their star status. They have been able to successfully take a single concept in many different directions. Overall, this mini-album’s power lies in the continued exhibition of the group’s infinite layers, and it clears the way for even more innovation and evolution in every aspect that has made their artistic potential unstoppable.
You can listen to LOONA’s Flip That on all streaming platforms.