The second (third?) phase of TWICE‘s career has been mostly inspired, as much like A Pink reinvented themselves, TWICE have made it known they’re a threat to be musically relevant for a while yet to come. Even recent releases that I haven’t absolutely loved like “Moonlight Sunrise” have been above-average at worst, and from “I Can’t Stop Me” to “Talk That Talk”, they’re most comfortably in their zone when taking inspiration on some level from Future Nostalgia retro-inspired landscape. “SET ME FREE” is TWICE continuing to take that tack, even if it doesn’t quite get to those heights.
“SET ME FREE” is an expressive bit of disco-funk that has a peppy tempo to it and has a fully formed chorus revolving around the “set me set me set me set me free” centerpiece of a hook that includes a “Thriller“-esque dramatic strings. As such, the floor of this for a listener like me is basically above-average just based on its parts alone, and I did enjoy it.
That said, there are two things that prevent it from achieving what it could be, which is the repetitiveness of the hook and a surprising lack of a dynamic chorus. The former is partly caused by the latter, as despite an extended chorus it never seems to elevate or progress like it should’ve. Instrumentally and vocally it stagnates a bit and doesn’t achieve the kind of melody this kind of track deserves to have, and when you compare it to something like “I Can’t Stop Me” or “Talk That Talk”, it becomes clearly apparent what the difference is.
Speaking of stagnation, I’m not sure why there always has to be a rap break in TWICE songs when their rappers provide capable vocals anyway. It’s especially true in songs like this where the appeal is the consistent rhythm and momentum of the song, as it just feels like an unneeded distraction, especially when the execution is perfunctory at best. Set them free.
Despite the fact that there’s more complaining written here than anything else, “SET ME FREE” is another enjoyable and thoroughly listenable single that keeps TWICE headed down the right path. Hopefully they continue with the sound, as it’s clearly something they do well and feel comfortable with, but I also hope they’re allowed to go full throttle again, which is when they’ve been at their best.