Release Date: April 1, 2019
- Hey. Bae. Like it.
- Really Like You
- Neko ni Naritai (Korean Ver.)
- Gokigen Sayonara (Korean Ver.)
After successfully entering the Japanese market with Suki to Iwasetai IZ*ONE returned to their native Korea to release another mini-album titled HEART*IZ (pronounced “Hearts”). Teasers for their return started dropping shortly after their Japanese promotions ended starting with a concept trailer in mid-March.
As the release date neared further hints of what to expect were released. Most importantly was the highlight medley giving fans small snippets of the songs to appease their hunger.
Now that the complete mini-album is out in wild the question is whether it is a worthy follow to the juggernaut that was COLOR*IZ? Well let’s dive in and see.
Structurally HEART*IZ is very similar to COLOR*IZ with its combination of saccharine pop, dance music and ballads. Added at the end of the album are Korean language re-recordings of two of their Japanese b-sides.
Excluding the two ending tracks you have 6 new songs to listen to. The most attention grabbing of the bunch are the lead single Violeta and Highlight. Both take IZ*ONE down a musical path similar to the one f(x) took on their 2015 album 4 Walls.
Violeta is the more dance floor friendly and vibrant of the two songs with its straightforward, no nonsense approach. It starts off rather slow and sweet during the first verse gradually raising the energy level until the peak is hit with a storming House music beat during the chorus sections.
Minju’s sultry rapping during second verse was the pleasant surprise of Violeta. She sure has come a long way from the insecure pretty girl on Produce 48.
For all the energy that Violeta exudes it doesn’t have the same forceful impact La Vie en Rose did. But it is still a fantastic lead song nevertheless.
Highlight on the other hand has a subdued feel to it. The driving groove and deep bass lines are almost reminiscent of UK Garage (the 2-step variety) during the verses while the chorus is pretty much straight up 4 on the floor. The lack of any discernible hook in the chorus was a bold choice that fits the minimalism of the song.
As for the remaining four tracks, that’s where the pure pop resides. These are much like their counterparts on COLOR*IZ so don’t expect as much of a seismic shift in sound when compared to the two tracks mentioned earlier.
That does not mean that this particular group of songs is not worth investing your time in. The ones that stand out the most are the final two original tracks Airplane and Up. Both are fine examples of the bubbly Korean pop that works best for IZ*ONE.
When you think about this release it could have easily been a compilation of re-recorded material from Produce 48 with a couple of new songs thrown in for fun. Thankfully that is not the case here. Instead HEART*IZ contains mostly all new material to add some variety to their growing catalog of songs.
So was this a worthy follow up to their debut? I believe that to be true. There is more consistency with the musical direction of the album and each track does manage to captivate in some manner. This bucks the usual trend of sophomore albums that have high expectations to live up to ending up being disasters and/or disappointing.
In the end HEART*IZ provides plenty of material for fans and new listeners to enjoy. It also adds more fuel to keep the IZ*ONE hype train going for a long while.
HEART*IZ (Limited Edition)
HEART*IZ (Apple Music)