I wasn’t too interested in checking out a group that’s still in its pre-debut stages. I feel it’s too early to decipher LOONA’s true style when they haven’t done a formal group debut, so I figured it’d be better to check them out when all 12 girls have debuted. However, during a commute home where I randomly came across a slick R&B tune, I was hooked and was surprised it came from LOONA’s Kim Lip. This ultimately convinced me that it wouldn’t hurt to check out the members’ solo debuts as they might even have a couple hidden jams. I started checking out every single member’s debut shortly from Heejin’s to Choerry’s, and even LOONA ⅓'s debut. I loved everything, but I fell deeper with all of Kim Lip, Jinsoul, and Choerry’s solo releases.
With LOONA ODD EYE CIRCLE being LOONA’s second sub-unit, they are geared to showcase a concept different from the first sub-unit. With LOONA ⅓ presenting a more serious, orchestra-driven sound, ODD EYE CIRCLE takes charge with a more playful R&B/pop-infused sound and concept. Full of that genre is Mix & Match, the sub-unit’s very first mini-album.
The Title Track
While not being my favorite track off of the mini, “Girl Front” was an excellent choice for a title track. It’s the most upbeat of the four full tracks, and it carries a catchy hook that matches the synergy of all three members’ respective vocal techniques. The most interesting thing about this track is that it’s exactly what we would get if we mashed all three title tracks of the members’ solo debuts. It carries a hint of energy found in both Kim Lip’s and Jinsoul’s debut tracks, but the song’s overall sound and direction mostly resemble Choerry’s “Love Cherry Motion,” which would make sense as both were produced by Ollipop.
The structures of both songs are widely similar and both tracks’ respective verses enter at the same count. The track features a semi-quiet bass drop after the chorus ends, reminiscent of the post-chorus drop from “Love Cherry Motion,” which creates an interesting section that you’ll look forward to each time the chorus hits.
The next track from the album, “LOONATIC,” is another upbeat track, however it is quite different from the sound of “Girl Front.” This track is widely guitar-driven (which you can hear clearly with the overdrive effects) and is a lot faster tempo-wise. While the song has its highlights, I don’t really dig the way the vocals of all three girls are processed as they drown in the arrangement instead of rising above it, which makes the words hard to hear. The melodies and musical composition of the track are top-notch, though. They go to interesting places, but it’s hard to fully appreciate with very thin, air-like vocals going around the track.
The next two tracks, “Chaotic,” and “Starlight,” are hands down my favorite tracks from the album.
The first one, “Chaotic,” is a slow jam full of soul with an easygoing groove that gives an almost sultry feel to the track, which matches the three members well. This track has the same soul that captivated me in “Eclipse,” and the Choerry & Jinsoul duet “Puzzle.” It makes use of synthesizers and electronic piano chords in minors, which creates a very sensual sound that works amazingly with the laid-back vocals of the three girls. I personally love the bridge section where everything breaks down and features only the girls’ vocals as this is where you can clearly hear their impressive vocal runs and falsetto.
The last new track from the EP is “Starlight,” which follows the same route as “Chaotic.” It features a more subtle and low-EQ synth arrangement, but both tracks contain the same energy. I personally think this track is less catchy than the previous, but I prefer the harmonies in this one. The track’s instrumentation stays very relaxed, which complements the talk-styled rap during certain parts of the track.
It’s impressive to see each member and sub-unit from LOONA deliver even without a full group debut. Every LOONA release has always been top-notch, and all their productions have been creatively interesting. Mix & Match is no different. Of all LOONA singles and albums, I have to say that Mix & Match is by far my favorite. The EP features songs that stay in a genre that I favor, which is why I can’t help but like it more. While I won’t mind the whole group carrying on a sound similar to this, I still can’t help but look forward to how different the remaining sub-unit’s style will look and sound.
With very well-executed songs and visuals, it is possible we are watching a top-tier girl group in the making. The group just needs the right promotion because the current eight members of LOONA have proven that talent-wise, they’ve got it covered.
“Girl Front” Title Score – 9.0/10
Mix & Match Album Score – 9.25/10