It’s been a hectic few months for fromis_9. The group hasn’t had an official rest period ever since they were announced as the winning members of Mnet’s Idol School in September of last year. In addition to their debut preparations, as well as their first group performance on the 2017 Mnet Asian Music Awards, fromis_9 has served a lengthy pre-debut promotional period for “Glass Shoes,” which they immediately followed with the release of their very first mini-album To.Heart!
Their first mini-album To.Heart contains a total of six tracks, with five tracks being album-exclusive, while the last track “Glass Shoes,” was originally released as their pre-debut single last month.
The album opens with a heartfelt narration track titled “The Way To Me,” which features the members narrating a personally-written letter for their fans over a soft piano arrangement. After the intro track finishes, a smooth transition leads to the opening strings of “To Heart,” the group’s official debut single.
Produced by songwriting duo Iggy-Youngbae, the track is a dance-pop song that contains a lot of rock undertones, as well as a few funk elements that highlight the melodies in the verses. “To Heart” has a vibe similar to GFRIEND’s “Navillera” and it’s mainly because of the synthesizers layered along the strong string component of the track. The melody is very bright and is written on quite a high register, which the vocal line nails, especially during the chorus. There’s a certain lightness to the melodies in the track, despite the arrangement being quite heavy and thick with its number of layers, but the overall sound fits the image of the group. The song, however, gets a bit too repetitive as it reaches its final chorus, which may be because of the song’s lack of a concrete hook. It is, still, a solid listen, and is an effective track to showcase both the vocal and performing capabilities of the nine members.
Perhaps one of the two strongest tracks on the album, “Miracle,” was originally one of the three tracks that the finalists of Mnet’s Idol School performed in the last mission. Produced by Wonderkid, BreadBeat, and Atm, the song is very heavy on its use of synthesizers, but there’s a certain ethereality to it that is brought in by the catchy, playful chorus lines that the group sings in a mix of falsetto and a full voice. Gyuri’s vocals in the first and last choruses were the most commendable among the members as her velvety vocal tone fit the track the most.
The next track, “Pinocchio,” was also performed during the finale of Idol School, and it’s a light trap-pop song with an astonishing arrangement. After each bright chorus in the track, there’s a mini-drop that utilizes a groovy bassline that provides a nice change to the song’s beat progression. The song also boasts a key change after the first chorus ends, which nicely elevates the track to reduce possible traces of repetition.
The only real “new” B-side in the album is “Be With You,” an electronic mid-tempo produced by 1Take and TAK, and it is possibly the strongest B-side track on the album. The track stays on an electric element all throughout, while still utilizing a lot of organic sounds such as the drum kicks, as well as the electronic pianos. It is reminiscent of classic ‘80s/’90s K-Pop, mainly due to its chord progression and synthesizers during the verses, but it switches to a totally modern post-chorus drop that works wonders.
The final track on the mini-album is the MAMA version of “Glass Shoes.” Its main difference from the version released a month ago is the presence of a longer intro, which they used in the official music video of the track. Despite the track being comparatively older than a lot of the tracks on the EP, “Glass Shoes” still closes the album perfectly with an element of familiarity. It should also be noted that it remains to be one of fromis_9’s strongest tracks to date, and it’s all thanks to the overall creativity found in the melody-writing.
To.Heart is the most solid debut EP in the year so far, and it is one of the most cohesive debut albums from a girl group. There isn’t a single track that’s sub-standard, and it’s well-produced despite the short amount of time the group had to prepare. The mini-album is composed of five solid tracks that completely draw a clear image of what fromis_9’s music is like, and it successfully sets them apart from a lot of rookie groups that have recently debuted. And while the group has only been hovering around the public eye for a few months now, the album successfully showcases their growth in skills both individually, and as a group.
“To Heart” Title Score – 8.0/10
Music Video Score – 8.0/10
To.Heart Album Score – 8.7/10