Korean artists releasing Japanese records can be like comparing Easter to Christmas. Sometimes they can be enjoyable, but they aren’t always as impressive or fun as the main event. A truly great Japanese record from a K-Pop artist is a total gem; but in the most disappointing cases, they’re completely forgettable, merely a nice record to keep up the artist’s relevance in the Japanese market.
Hot off the heels of their newest Korean record Taste of Love, TWICE’s newest Japanese full-length album Perfect World is no such dud. It comes not as an afterthought to the girl group’s Korean releases, but instead serves as a reminder of why TWICE is able to command so many millions of fans around the world.
The tracklist features four pre-released Japanese tracks: ‘Perfect World’, ‘BETTER’, ‘Fanfare’ and ‘Kura Kura’ alongside six brand new Japanese tracks. Given that many Japanese albums released by Korean artists usually include a bunch of the artist’s Korean songs translated and re-sung in Japanese to pad the album out, it’s great to see TWICE drop an LP with tracks crafted specially for the Japanese market.
Over their past few records TWICE’s sound has kept evolving from the light and breezy pop through which they made their name into more complex and experimental sounds. Songs such as ‘BETTER’ would not be amiss in any club today, and its electro-groove makes the song’s re-release on this summer album perfect for anyone longing to cling to those last vestiges of summer… or the memories of a summer romance.
In title track ‘Perfect World’, members Mina and Jihyo sing:
‘After the storm
Everything looks different than yesterday, brand new sky
In the future without you
There is hope in the future without you, I noticed
’Cause my life goes on.’
It’s an anthem to dance to with the girls, a defiant musical middle-finger to those that do you wrong, packaged within a chorus created for their fans to chant along with them in a stadium. This is not the TWICE of ‘More & More’, but a TWICE fully confident in their position as both industry veterans and as empowered artists.
As is often the case with TWICE albums, the B-sides are the MVPs of the album: I will personally consider it a missed opportunity if TWICE don’t release a Halloween themed dance video to ‘Good to Love’ (that bass line!), and ‘Four Leaf Clover’ would not go amiss on the group’s brilliant 2020 LP Eyes Wide Open with its glitter-tinged sound and hints of funk.
For newcomers to the group, Perfect World stands as a great introduction to TWICE that showcases the group’s growing versatility through their trademark hopeful sound. ONCEs (the name of TWICE’s fans), especially Japanese ONCEs, will certainly feel rewarded for their devotion tothe group with an album that seems specially crafted for them from beginning to end. After all, in final track, ‘Thank you, Family’, the group sing:
‘I love you, Fam, I’m proud of you…
The words you gave me turn into light…
Thank you for giving me your life.’
The cover and concept photos of the album suggest that TWICE wants you to join them in their glossy, gold-tinged world somewhere east of Monte Carlo but west of Las Vegas. The record delivers on this promise, with the listener taken on a journey that starts at TWICE’s own private, triumphant carnival and ends with a track that in another universe might feature in the world’s most stylish cabaret: one specially created just for TWICE and their loyal fans.
In Perfect World, TWICE has put out another solid, well-crafted record: less than a year after dropping one of their best-ever records, sung in a completely different language.
I’d say that cements them as one of the best.
This article has been reposted from Medium with the author's permission.