[Review] IVE continue to carve out a unique place in K-pop with confident, alluring “LOVE DIVE”

While I still think that IVE‘s debut single “ELEVEN” possessed far more flash than substance, that “1-2-3-4-5-6-7, you make me feel like 11” hook was indeed an earworm, and as time passed it became clear to me how infectious and memorable it was. Their follow-up “LOVE DIVE” isn’t all that similar in that same way, but it’s better in other ways and helps cement their unique place in the industry.

Things get off to a fast start as the booming bass hits immediately and draws the listener in, and all the percussion helps to set an almost sinister undertone to it all. There’s a nice play with contrasts throughout where darker notes seem to purposefully undercut the beauty on the surface of both the brighter moments of song and music video. The pre-chorus in particular is a standout, with the background “ooh oohs” memorable in their own right and building up the tension effectively. And “LOVE DIVE” is almost notable in that they didn’t try to shoehorn a needless rap into the song, instead sticking with what was best for the soundscape instead.

Probably the most important and impressive part of making “LOVE DIVE” work is that for a group of teenagers, they deliver the sass and confidence necessary to sell this song extremely well. It somehow doesn’t come off cringe or forced from them, and the chorus leading with “narcissistic, my god I love it” is thus credible and memorable, sorta summing up the whole atmosphere in a line. Almost wish it had more venom to it, but I get the decision not to.

While it is sort of an anti-drop instrumentally, the introduction of the subtle, throbbing synth supporting the almost spoken-word section of the chorus is a nice element in itself. Still, it did need something bolder to kick in at some point, and thankfully the back half of the chorus transitions into a dreamier sound that provides melody and doesn’t just leave a void where pop elements should be. “LOVE DIVE” isn’t as earworm-y as “ELEVEN”, but for me it’s more of a complete song, and IVE continue to execute exceedingly well.

Meanwhile, the music video continues to play well to their strengths and reinforces the themes of the song, with the dance break in particular being impressive, though the main choreo was rather … odd.

It’s a bit weird because IVE aren’t doing anything necessarily bombastic, yet they standout from other girl groups right now. Part of it is the music being quality, but their concept is finding a nice sweet spot where it fits within all the different trends but isn’t necessarily similar to anything else, especially from their generation. You see elements of the typical familiar tropes, but they never seem to let themselves get bogged down into any of them and are better off for it.

I dunno, it’s sorta like ‘Talented Chaebol Daughters: The Idol Group’, which as it turns out is pretty cool for a K-pop concept. And “LOVE DIVE” represents a quality follow-up to their breakout hit that should help cement their place in the top tier of their generation.

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