The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Im Nayeon Verónica A. Bastardo , August 11th, 2022 07:38

Twice’s big sister takes her first step as a soloist with a track list bursting with full-blown bubblegum pop

Twice is the k-pop girl group that put bubblegum pop from Korea on the international map. While Japan and Korea were years ahead of us enjoying these pinky girl-next-door sounds, for the West this music was considered for children. But Twice’s fans knew better. Now, with their first member coming out with an official solo proposal, it’s time for the public to hear, not just the colour of one of their singers, but open the door to the charm behind this cute sound.

Im Nayeon is a softer version of Twice. Not the same intensity or explosiveness you hear in chorus drops from the group, but definitely the catchiness that comes from quirky sound selections –flamboyant drums, crazy claps, cheers and flirty ad-lips – and that saccharine song interpretation. Perfect to have her as your new pop-girl-crush.

‘POP!’ is an addictive track. There’s no other way to label it. You listen to the chorus just once and will be like “Pop, pop, pop. You want it. Pop, pop, pop” instantly. Was it a safe choice? Most definitely. From the big band-like trumpets, to the marching drums and even the clap sequences that recall the most basic rhythms of gospel. However, it’s enough of a solid track to promote a solo debut. Of course, it also goes with an easy and funny choreography for everyone and a gorgeously colourful music video.

This perfect combination of poppy sounds with catchy vocal hooks continues throughout the whole album. In fact, it could almost be too predictable. That’s why both collaborations are such a welcome detail.

On the one hand we have ‘No problem’, where you can hear Stray Kid’s deep voiced Felix, to add a bit of manliness to the project. This is a flirty disco track, with all the dreamy traits of classic 80s electro-pop, like robotic back vocals and flourishing keyboard runs. Perhaps the only downside of this song is not having enough Felix in it. On the other hand, we have the track with rapper Wonstein, an r&b proposal which offers a turn in the whole tracklist. Sexy beat-drops and snaps, whispering sugary vocals from Nayeon and a great rap interpretation from Wonstein, who really levels up the song with those soulful ad-libs at the end.

While the album in general can be a little forgettable, given its fairly safe production direction, it’s still worth listening out for the gems. Take ‘Sunset’ for example. It’s hidden as the outro of the tracklist. The song takes a step far from the always-hazy chimes-focused Korean ballads, and goes for a more lo-fi decision. It’s a bit rusty in the general sound, but evolves into more complex instrumental combinations and takes advantage of Nayeon’s clear head-voice. The whole track takes you to a relaxing island in its golden hour, from the low-key bass, the tender strings and the mushy second voices which create a fugue-like counterpoint.

If you’ve heard the group before you know that Im Nayeon sounds a lot like a Twice album. While that’s completely normal – since Nayeon is the main vocalist and face of the group – it’s also a warning sign that Korean idols need to be given the liberty to experiment with their sound from the very beginning and not just at some point further along in their career. This is a solid pop album and Nayeon’s charms shine. Her voice, visuals, and sweet attitude deliver a feel-good tracklist full of fluffiness and catchy hooks, but it’s also clear that her own colour still waits to be found.