Lovelyz has an uncanny ability to blend a minor key progression with a synthed-up dance beat -- a characteristic that makes its songs recognizable within a few seconds of listening.
After a brief detour with “A Piece of Summer,” the group is back to its signature blend.
Loyal listeners will recognize the sequence of a mostly minor-key melody punctuated by major-key interjections that is unique to Lovelyz in “Sanctuary,” the group’s fifth EP released Monday.
Mixing up contradictions is Lovelyz’s specialty, which the eight-piece act achieves in the new lead song, “Lost N Found” -- dancey yet balladic, sweet yet oddly melancholic, refreshing yet quaint all in one song.
“Sanctuary” is the winter sequel to the beachy dance pop “A Piece of Summer” of July, which marked the group’s summery diversion from its usual style. But summer is over, and longtime fans, as well as the group members themselves, are ready to reinstate “Lovelyz” as we know it.
“‘Lost N Found’ is kind of reminiscent of our past songs. There’s a hint of ‘Destiny,’ for instance. You could say it is an homage to our past efforts. You get a bit of everything Lovelyz -- from music styles to storylines to props -- like a gift set,” said lead vocalist Ryu Su-jeong.
Fans waiting outside the Yes 24 Live Hall in Seoul’s eastern district of Gwangjin-gu, where the press conference and showcase for the new album were held, seemed pleased with the return to the act’s distinct character.
“We knew right away from the teasers that we’d be getting a very Lovelyz-style song with the new album,” said a group of young women who only identified themselves as “local college students.”
A name that kept popping up among them was Yun Sang, the mastermind and chief producer behind Lovelyz.
“We know it’s not Yun Sang who did the song this time, but it’s still his team (of songwriters),” fans said, expressing their faith in the composer.
The world may better know Yun Sang as the music director of the South Korean art troupe that performed in Pyongyang in April. The singer and composer received a Presidential Commendation for his leadership of South Korea’s delegation of artists at the 2018 Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards.
“It would hardly be an exaggeration to say Yun Sang set the tone (of Lovelyz) from the very beginning,” Baby Soul, the group’s leader, said during the press conference. “We believe there will be future projects (with Yun Sang).”
A staple question at Lovelyz’s press conferences is the 4-year-old act’s lack of trophies from music shows of the three major broadcasters: KBS’ “Music Bank,” MBC’s “Show! Music Core” and SBS’ “Inkigayo.”
And Lovelyz’s usual reply is that chart performances and trophy wins are not its main goal.
“I’m afraid our reply might not come off as sincere, but our goal is not to land on top of charts. Of course, winning first place would be amazing. But we are more driven by our love of music and pursuit of our own style. As the album’s title goes, we hope our music can serve as a sort of ‘sanctuary’ for listeners,” said Ryu on behalf of the group.
November saw the return of some of the biggest stars in the music scene -- EXO, Twice and Black Pink’s Jennie, to name a few. Key of the 10-year-old boy band SHINee, and Nu’est W, a subunit of the home group of another heavyweight, Wanna One’s Hwang Min-hyun, released new works on the same day as Lovelyz.
Come what may, Lovelyz walks its own path. Though the girls’ voices may be delicate, their style is unwavering.
By Kim Arin (firstname.lastname@example.org)