Release Date: February 17, 2020
- So Curious
- You & I
- Pink Blusher
- Open Your Eyes
The end of 2019 had one of the most anticipated albums of that quarter scheduled for release. IZ*ONE’s first full-length album BLOOM*IZ was to drop upon the rabid masses to much hype and fanfare. On the cusp of its initial release date, a vote manipulation scandal that included the program the group was born from (Produce 48) forced plans to change.
What should have been a milestone moment that continued IZ*ONE’s wave of momentum was put on hold. The negativity surrounding anything Produce 101 related was unfortunate and BLOOM*IZ ended up being part of the collateral damage as a result.
For the next few months, there was mostly radio silence from OTR and the members of IZ*ONE. During that time the negative press from the controversy finally dissipated after those in charge of the Produce programs admitted to their wrongdoings.
The conditions for BLOOM*IZ to be released were much more favourable with the backlash of the negative press lessening and in early 2020 it was announced that IZ*ONE would resume their activities. On February 3rd the album cover art was unveiled. That was followed up with concept photos of all the members being posted on February 6th and 7th.
The preview for the lead single Fiesta followed on February 12th with the full video coming 5 days later on the album’s official new release day of February 17. It lives up to the reputation of IZ*ONE’s lead songs being catchy and energetic. Musically it leans more towards the sound of Violeta except ramped up considerably in intensity.
Its music video is also a feast for the eyes showing off the members in a quick cut style of editing. The video might be a little too busy for some viewers but after a few repeated viewings, you will become accustomed to the visual onslaught to pick out your favourite moments.
The remainder of BLOOM*IZ contains 11 more freshly squeezed tracks for your listening pleasure. Many of them stray from the bubblegum pop that has been a staple of IZ*ONE’s releases up to this point. In their place are songs that have a focus on maturing the sound of the group.
This sonic shift is most evident in the songs that have strong influences from modern EDM and/or club music such as Fiesta, Dreamlike, Ayayaya, Daydream and Open Your Eyes.
One of the tracks that got a lot of hype prior to BLOOM*IZ release was Ayayaya. This was mainly due to the choreography and the members who were performing it at the time it was revealed at the Eyes On Me concert in 2019.
After listening to the studio version one can instantly feel a bit of a Rumour vibe emanating from the track. Ayayaya is not as epic as that Produce 48 classic, but it is still a very strong song. Daydream, on the other hand, has a sensual groove. Its steamy quality is accentuated by the funky mid-tempo instrumentation and the vocals of Kwon Eunbi, Lee Chaeyeon, Kim Minju, and Ahn Yujin.
The final song from this batch worth mentioning is the album closer Open Your Eyes. It’s a dance track that feels more suited to a boyband than a girl group. IZ*ONE do pull it off quite nicely making it an exciting finish to BLOOM*IZ.
All of these types of songs show a different side of IZ*ONE that had only been hinted at in their previous releases. The only downside to this is they now sound very similar to other K-Pop girl groups who use the same musical formula. Given that IZ*ONE haven’t gone all-in on this type of music before until now it all sounds like a refreshing addition to their repertoire when you take that into account.
If you are a fan of their sugary pop songs don’t fret as they still have you covered with Eyes, So Curious, Spaceship, and Pink Blusher.
So Curious was the other song revealed at their Eyes On Me concert in 2019. This is IZ*ONE’s cuteness expressed at its maximum level. Some may find this song borders on possibly hitting nauseatingly cute territory. Thankfully it does not cross that line. Pink Blusher also falls into the same category. It does lack the instant captivation of So Curious but is still rather charming. Both songs can be seen as shining examples of the playful side of IZ*ONE.
Spaceship is one of the album cuts that is performed during the promotions for BLOOM*IZ. Is it a sequel to the similarly titled Airplane from HEART*IZ? That is a bit of a reach there. It is just as catchy as that song though.
Lastly are the slower songs, two are pure ballads (You & I, Someday) and one is a mid-tempo song (Destiny) that switches between being a ballad and something more upbeat between the verse and chorus sections. Of the three You & I is the most appealing. It’s a simple ballad driven by mostly acoustic instruments. In a way, it’s similar to Really Like You in tone.
The question to ask after all this talk is, “Was this worth the wait?” I say absolutely. BLOOM*IZ has a lot of new music to take in. It’s without remakes of their Japanese songs or re-recordings of popular Produce 48 songs allowing it to stand on its own merits.
This is IZ*ONE’s most complete Korean effort to date and it’s definitely worth giving it your time.
BLOOM*IZ (Apple Music)