Twice have hardly been inactive but they’ve seemed overdue for a comeback for a while. The Year of Yes, the special album that was essentially a repackage of Yes or Yes, was released mid-December 2018. Since it was marketed as a gift to their fans, it was never granted “proper” promotion, and thus was mostly forgotten. Their Japanese album was Japanese versions of their older Korean singles; nothing new.
So it hasn’t felt like Twice have had new music since November. In K-pop, six months is an eternity; for Twice that eternity has come to a close with Fancy You. To “fancy” someone is another way to say you have a crush on someone. The EP is thus full of crushes, whether it’s crushes Twice have on others or the crushes they want other people to have on them. Crushes are by no means an uncommon topic for any pop song. But Twice don’t even pretend to be talking about anything else.
The title track “Fancy” gathered a fair bit of hype when it was announced that Black Eyed Pilseung would be composing. BEP were responsible for most of Twice’s title tracks before 2018, and has already composed two hit tracks for other artists this year (Apink’s “%%” and Chungha’s “Gotta Go”). Many people (including myself) were very excited to see them collaborate again with Twice. It’s a good thing that the song doesn’t disappoint after that wait. Even in Twice’s best songs there’s an element that can be grating enough to detract from long-term enjoyment (the weird wobbly synth in “TT” comes to mind). “Fancy” has a bit of autotune in the chorus that, instead of becoming irritating, fills up space and creates movement in the chorus. “Fancy” also allows the instrumentation to empty out when it needs to without the song becoming too spare — it’s most apparent in the prechorus and the way the outro empties out until the song ends.
If you don’t hit repeat on “Fancy” and let the album move on, you meet the extremely percussive “Stuck in My Head”. On first listen, it feels a little weak or disappointing compared to the title track, just because it’s such a major shift in tone. Maybe it’s because I’d hoped that a song titled “Stuck in My Head” would feel a little more … sticky. The parts that are supposed to illustrate that stickiness (the repetition in some of the verses and chorus) feel too forced to actually grab your ear. But the percussion in the instrumental ends up being its saving grace if you listen to it enough, to the point that you might catch yourself banging your head (but like, not a lot).
“Girls Like Us” is next, and at under three minutes its brevity might well be its saving grace. It sounds a little Western (Charli XCX and MNEK are both credited, and you can hear both their styles), but that isn’t bad at all. Most importantly, you can imagine this song playing in a stadium, even if you’re only listening to it on tinny laptop speakers. It wants to be big, in the sense of filling space, and like “Fancy”, it hits the mark even if it ends pretty abruptly.
The following track “Hot” has a funky tinge that’s trendy in K-pop right now, but it doesn’t sound derivative. The chorus barely has any words, which is also trendy and, sometimes, divisive. But in a dance song like this, it doesn’t matter what the words are as long as there’s something to mouth along to while you’re moving.
Besides cowriter Sana, “Turn it Up” has another familiar name attached: composer earattack, who was responsible for GOT7’s most polarizing title, “Hard Carry”. But this is a straightforward and funky tune once you get past the brief acoustic intro. Closer “Strawberry” is a comfortable mid-tempo song (that’s actually acoustic!) that manages to stay sweet instead of settling for a bland closer.
“Fancy You” isn’t a long mini; three of the songs are under three minutes. Sometimes with K-pop that can feel like a bit of a cop-out, with a bunch of B-sides that are clearly just riding on the back of a solid title, but in this case the album uses just as much space as it needs to with flair to spare.