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Review: IVE embraces confidence on 'I’ve IVE’

Photo courtesy Starship Entertainment

By Jacob Pellegrino     4/18/23 11:43pm

Rating: ★★★★

Top Track: “Blue Blood”

After an incredibly successful debut year in 2022, IVE released their debut album “I’ve IVE” to the excitement of fans around the world. Last year, IVE put out two single albums, which are shorter, two to three track projects within K-pop. The sampling of Gloria Gaynor’s classic track “I Will Survive” in “After LIKE” and the moodier sound of “LOVE DIVE” show two distinct sides of the group that are expanded upon in their debut full-length release.

The album starts with “Blue Blood,” which first premiered in their live concert event titled “The Prom Queens.” The track features a kinetic backing beat enlivened with an orchestral break after the chorus. Vocally, “Blue Blood” strikes a great balance between more subtle performances and strong, belting choruses. The song’s bold sound perfectly complements the lyrics that reference nobility and grace in the group.

The title track, “I AM,” makes use of airy, almost floating heights to lead to a hopeful song about following the path that fulfills you the most. The group’s upbeat sound seen here is a strong contrast to the sound seen in “Blue Blood,” even though both address themes of self-confidence. The build-up from the refrain to the chorus is incredibly satisfying and follows a progression that instrumentally suggests the growth heard in the lyrics.

The first thing that catches the ear about “Kitsch,” the lead single from the album, is a high-pitched, whistle-like leading instrumental that is relatively unique for the track. It is definitely a track that gets better with more listens, but overall is a fun dance song about leading the pack and embracing your own style. It is another example of the instrumentation and sound complementing the song’s message, as “Kitsch” could initially sound odd to listeners before they get used to the track’s style.

Another notable track on the album is “섬찟 (Hypnosis),” which opens with a glitched out synthesizer run before breaking into a staccato instrumental. This is then layered with soft vocals that effortlessly fill the rest of the track, cruising around the beats for an incredibly polished track. The instrumentation is almost hypnotic in its regularity as the lyrics compare love to a hypnosis that people fall under the spell of. Additionally, Rei’s fast-paced rap closes out the track for a memorable listen. 

Even though the album embraces unique production and a range of sounds, tracks like “NOT YOUR GIRL” don’t fully live up to IVE’s promise and ability. “NOT YOUR GIRL” is a fun and upbeat track but not much more. Unlike what the title might lead you to expect, the track is asking a suitor to “seize the moment” and start a relationship. However, the song does not embrace the sonic innovation that makes IVE so good, leading to something sonically enjoyable but slightly vacuous in meaning.

“I’ve IVE” keeps up the sonic threads that have made the group’s initial single albums so notable, firmly establishing IVE as an exciting player in the fourth generation of K-pop. The album’s diversity of vocal performances and production is a winning combination.

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