For summer, they’ve decided to put that aside for a bit and attempt a fun and fresh vibe for “Alcohol-Free“, though I’m unsure they managed to do either.
Conceptually at least, “Alcohol-Free” is interesting and I admire that it takes a risk by going with bossa nova fusion track instead of a standard attempt at a summer anthem. Unsurprisingly, the exceedingly chill bossa nova is not among my favorite genres, but there are obvious exceptions, even by Korean artists.
But “Alcohol-Free” falls into an awkward space where it wants to be a fun, summer pop song, and thus it fails to settle into an actual relaxed and smooth soundscape. That would be fine, but it also doesn’t really go anywhere on the pop side of things either and is generally stagnant throughout. There’s nothing really wrong with it, as it’s quite inoffensive and generally pleasant, but it tried to walk the fine line in the fusion attempt and fell into a musical purgatory of sorts.
Additionally, a subtle almost seductive vocal works best with a track like this, and at times I found it a bit too shrill, which is not something unfamiliar with JYP Entertainment instructions. Unfortunately I really think it takes the listener out of the immersion in the song, especially for an effort that basically is heavily reliant on, well, vibes.
On the other hand, they look absolutely amazing. It’s like some kind of modelling campaign showcase for a summer line or something. Also, the underlying beat is playful and bouncy, which is what gives it potential that I felt went unfulfilled.
Instead of a fun pop comeback or a classy, chill bossa nova track that you listen to while cooking pasta with Jun Ji Hyun in Il Mare, “Alcohol-Free” instead falls into a unique void as like part travel company commercial and part government-produced public service announcement. In fact, I had to double check to make sure it wasn’t either.
Still, TWICE get credit for taking a risk with a fusion like this, and it’s solid enough that it should please fans and they are immense enough where they can certainly take these chances.