[Review] IVE’s solid “ELEVEN” debut prioritizes establishing their image more than their sound

Starship Entertainment‘s new girl group IVE have made their debut with “ELEVEN“, and regardless of their musical output, it sure seems like the company would have to fuck things up massively for the group to not be popular. They boast two members in from the now-defunct, mega-popular group IZ*ONE, and the public reaction to the other four have promising as well.

So all that’s left is to put out solid enough music, and “ELEVEN” gets them off to a decent start when everything is said and done.

The instrumental of “ELEVEN” is sparse for the most part, relying primarily on softer percussion hits and strums from what sound more like a lute than a guitar. It provides an elegant soundscape that showcases their vocals nicely, and it’s impressive that they’re able to carry things well.

This approach is alright as long as it ramps towards something grander, but “ELEVEN” doesn’t really do that. The chorus adds harder percussion and some tempo, but it sticks with a vibe more along the lines of aforementioned elegance, which makes things a bit stale as it repeats. It’s a shame because the “one, two, three, four, five, six, seven … you make me feel like eleven” hook is great, but the rest of it doesn’t live up to that promise. There doesn’t seem to be that same level of pop fun elsewhere, and it lacks strong melodic sections.

Of course, one can’t listen to this without talking about the slo-mo effect used in the pre-chorus. Jarring, yes, but rather than remove sounds or tempo like most songs, they actually applied it to the vocals as well. Did it work? Not really, but I did appreciate the idea and it could be altered to make something more interesting going forward. Additionally, not sure if the accompanying sounds are Middle Eastern or Indian in origin (or some kind of mashup), but they at least help to provide some intrigue.

It’s not hard to see IVE hitting it big. In an industry where concept and image matter as much as anything else, their sleek, chic, and cool vibes sets them up well for advertisements and eventually a move into acting for a bunch of the members. They also enter with a pre-built fandom, so they’ll definitely get a lot more cracks at releases. Musically, it’s a promising start that highlights their potential via performance abilities and clear vocals.

All that said, “ELEVEN” is only really good in the context of it being a debut, as it feels rather barren at some points, lacks the melody to accompany its hook, and almost seems to prioritize creating moments where the members can stare into cameras and what not rather than creating something more musically robust.

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