Despite some phenomenal tracks, tripleS’ mini-album “ASSEMBLE” struggles to be a cohesive project.
tripleS is a 24-member rotational K-pop girl group in which, depending on fan choice, the members can form subunit, solo and full-group activities. The first group to debut under Modhaus, a South Korean record label and entertainment agency, tripleS is under the direction of Modhaus CEO Jaden Jeong — the former creative director at Blockberry Creative who provided the innovative direction behind the girl group LOONA from 2016 to 2019.
LOONA, much like tripleS, is an 11-member rotational group, originally 12-member group, with three subunits. Largely accredited to Jeong, LOONA’s unique world building and storytelling have made the group a standout in the fourth generation of K-pop. LOONA’s unique character is something Jeong hopes to continue to bring to K-pop’s fourth generation with tripleS.
In October 2022, tripleS released a pre-debut project under its first subunit — Acid Angel from Asia (AAA). A four-member subunit meant to give listeners a taste of what the group has to offer, tripleS AAA’s track release, “Generation,” was a smash hit. Evoking feelings of bittersweet nostalgia coupled with a groovy sound, the group pays homage to the trials and tribulations of Generation Z. Like the tripleS AAA project, tripleS’ most recent 10-member subunit put forth another stellar track; however, the B-sides of the mini-album largely will disappoint listeners.
“Beam,” the opening track on “ASSEMBLE,” uses warping synths and twinkling chimes to immerse its listeners, while a simple snare and kick drum undergird the chorus. Despite intriguing lyrics that describe wanting to escape from a toxic lover, “Beam” remains relatively one-note during its short song length, making it a poor album opener.
After a quick interlude titled “Before the Rise,” the track “Rising” begins — a short but very sweet two-and-a-half-minute song. “Rising” features an a capella melody coupled with a punchy base to create a funky groove. As the pre-chorus moves to the chorus, the bass sounds, and powerful synths kick in, creating a melody that constricts and releases with every second beat to keep listeners in suspense.
The song’s structure, like “Generation,” is also uncharacteristic. “Rising” has no bridge, simply two choruses building off of each other into a closer. Also, like “Generation,” “Rising” creates a nostalgic feeling in its listeners, as the girls sing about their debut journey.
The fourth track, “Colorful,” describes how one’s lover can bring more color to the world. From its electronic synths to its guitar bass, “Colorful” mimics the melodies seen in LOONA’s “Stylish” and “Satellite.” The track’s ending does create the same nostalgic feeling as “Generation” and “Rising,” but it cannot save the song from being a LOONA copy.
Immediately slowing the pace of the mini-album, “The Baddest” follows “Colorful.” Unlike its name, however, the track evokes none of the promised “badness.” Akin to the rock and heavy metal character of other K-pop groups like Dreamcatcher, “The Baddest” features an electric guitar in its verses. However, a lack of payoff in its chorus, coupled with the excessive amounts of reverb, makes the track sound hollow.
“New Look,” much like “Colorful,” is another LOONA rip-off, as its ’80s-inspired melody sounds eerily similar to LOONA’s “Star.” While “Star” demonstrates dynamism and a greater commitment to its ’80s source material, “New Look” is cookie-cutter to past K-pop projects. With the retro wave of K-pop almost three years past, “New Look” has simply been done before.
Ultimately, despite some standout tracks, the lackluster B-sides of “ASSEMBLE” make the mini-album an underwhelming comeback.
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