More than two weeks ago, TWICE released their second Japanese full album, “&TWICE”. It is their fourth Japanese release this year after their second compilation album “#TWICE2” and two singles, “Happy Happy” and “Breakthrough”. It features the lead single “Fake & True”, which was released two weeks before the album, as well as their two singles this year. The album debuted at #1 on the Oricon chart with more than 124,000 copies sold in the first week.

When I first heard “Fake & True”, I instantly thought that it sounded nothing like their previous Japanese tracks—or any Japanese tracks I’ve ever heard. On the contrary, it sounded more like the current style of their recent Korean releases. Unlike their previous singles, both Japanese and Korean, the catchiness of “Fake & True” does not come from repetitive lyrics or catchy melody. Instead, it comes from the instrumental. The song immediately starts with the main synth riff, giving a very strong impression right at the very beginning. However, the strong intro is offset by the other sections, such as the verse, the chorus and the rap, being weak. Overall, the most memorable part of the song is the synth riff which completely overshadowed the rest of the song. Unlike their previous songs, where you can enjoy singing along, this song is more of something to dance along to.
Rating: 6.5/10

“Stronger” is unlike anything the group has ever done before. It starts with a disjointed intro, which I personally am not a fan of. However, once the verse started, I instantly liked it more than the title track. There isn’t much variation between the verse and chorus, which helps a lot in the coherence of the song and makes it catchier. This is arguably one of the better B-sides on this album, and their Japanese discography as a whole. Contrary to the title track, I liked the lyrics and melody of this song more than the instrumental, which I have mixed feelings about due to how disjointed it feels. Lyrically, the theme of “Stronger” is very similar to a few of their Korean B-sides, but it is a first in their Japanese discography. It is about never giving up and getting back up stronger and stronger.
Rating: 8/10

From the moment it was released, “Breakthrough” has already been my favorite not just in their Japanese discography but out of all of their songs. From the verse, the chorus, and the heavenly bridge, to even the rap section, I liked every part of this track. The auto-tune and the beat were all perfect and blended together well. This is also the first of their Japanese songs to deviate from their usual “kawaii” style towards a more mature sound. In fact, this would have been perfect as a Korean release as well, so I find it wasted in their Japanese discography, which many don’t bother to listen to. Many say that this is a standard sound in J-Pop, but there is a reason the “standard sound” is popular among listeners. A song does not need to be unique, it just needs to reach the listener and touch them.
Rating: 10/10

“Changing!” is probably one of the weakest B-sides on this album. From the instrumentals to the melody and lyrics, nothing stands out. Even the bridge, where TWICE usually excels in, sounds very weird and disjointed. The song would definitely be a lot better if not for the weird instrumental in the background, which sounds grating to the ears. Nevertheless, I commend this song for being different from the rest. The song starts in a pop ballad way but gains tempo towards the chorus, which actually becomes a bit catchier after a few listens. Nevertheless, this is a song I will always skip when it comes on. The best part of this track is the sharp note at the end of the chorus, which the members pulled off very well.
Rating: 4.5/10

When this song was first released, I admit I was not a big fan of it. This is especially since it was released together with “Breakthrough”, which is one of my all-time favorite TWICE songs, so I couldn’t help but compare them. However, when I listened to it again on this album and after hearing “Changing!”, I admit that this song isn’t so bad. It’s very cute and happy, but it’s so much better than their previous Japanese singles of the same style. It wasn’t too cute but leaned more towards being happy and pleasant. The song was also used for a commercial, so I believe it had some effect on how it was composed. It features TWICE‘s iconic style of using a catchy chorus with repetitive lyrics. Overall, it is a nice throwback to TWICE’s former sound, which they have seemingly forgotten now. It is not any worse than many of their Korean title tracks, such as “Likey”, either. It is definitely among the top of my favorite TWICE songs. The bridge of this song stands out, given how different it is from the usual TWICE songs, which give a utopic dreamy vibe. “Happy Happy” did not make use of such a technique, but is not any less catchy than their other bridges.
Rating: 9/10

The moment “What You Waiting For” started, I knew I’d like it. It uses heavy auto-tune, but it blends perfectly with the tempo and melody of the song. The background instrumentals further complement the vocals by using a dreamy vibe. However, the chorus was too perfect. Using it as an intro made it stand out so much that the verse that came after became very subtle. The verse wasn’t bad, but after hearing the intro, I couldn’t wait to hear that part again. Thankfully, the song consists mostly of the chorus. But this also made me get tired of hearing the chorus very quickly. This song reminded me a lot of the current trend of DJ songs in western music. The hook was the only important part of the song, and they used it over and over again as a standalone and also as a background. Nevertheless, the beat of the song is very nice and I can imagine this song being played in clubs.
Rating: 7/10

“Be OK” is another song that I instantly disliked the moment I heard it. Like “What You Waiting For”, it went for an auto-tune intro, but it did not work as well. The lyrics and the melody were just too awkward. The verse did not make anything better, either. It felt so disjointed, with only Sana‘s part sounding nice. But then, an awkward rap part comes after it. The pre-chorus of the song actually sounded very good. However, the lyrics will make you laugh at how awkward the English part is. Contrary to the western feeling the song gives at the beginning of the song, the chorus actually sounded like TWICE‘s old J-Pop style. It was very catchy and pleasant to hear, save for the chanting in the middle of the section. Overall, the song is very nice to listen to except for the verse and the auto-tuned intro they kept reusing in random sections of the song.
Rating: 4/10

After listening to “Be OK”“Polish” is a very refreshing change. The song does not have anything that stands out and neither is it an earworm. It is very subtle but very pleasant to listen to. Nevertheless, you can hear the western influence they’re injecting in their songs, and I can see this as a very good fusion of it and their usual J-Pop style. Personally, I would’ve preferred this song without the hook they’re repeating in the background. This song could easily be a good B-side without it. Nevertheless, this song would be in the middle for me in the ranking of the songs on this album.
Rating: 6/10

“How u doin'” is a lot better compared to the previous track, “Polish”. It is a pop ballad song with a very nice melody and lyrics. There are still western influences injected in the song, but it blends better with the melody compared to the other tracks on this album. It is very pleasant to listen to and can easily be repeated over and over. It’s not perfect since the chants in the middle ruin the vibe the song built up. The vocal style and melody are a little bit sad and somber with a feeling of longing, but the chants completely turn that mood into an awkward one. I have no idea why the composers decided to use such a line in a pop ballad, but it does not suit the song well for me. Nevertheless, I would still listen to this song for the ninety-percent pop ballad and just ignore the chants.
Rating: 7/10

The album wouldn’t be complete without a ballad, and “The Reason Why” is the perfect closer for this album. It may be one of the best ballads in their Japanese discography and one of the best B-sides in their overall discography. This song may be the closest one to J-Pop on this album, and I am thankful that they did not decide to insert some club music beat or remix into this song. I can easily imagine this song as a soundtrack of a drama or a movie. It is full of emotion and the evolution of the members’ vocals can be clearly heard. Unlike many of their songs, this one has a very long interlude, which I really appreciate and love. It is very rare for a song of theirs to focus on the instrumental, which should be an integral part of a ballad. Even without understanding the lyrics, the melody and vocals alone can evoke sad and longing emotions in the listener.
Rating: 10/10

Like their Korean releases nowadays, “&TWICE” is also heavily influenced by western styles and club beats. I have mixed feelings about this for even though I did not like their original J-Pop sound, I would have preferred that over this. I appreciate how they’re trying to change their music, but they’re not really being experimental. Instead, they’re just going with the trend. However, this album gave me B-sides I never expected from them like “What You Waiting For” and “The Reason Why”, especially the latter. “The Reason Why” is an accumulation of all their hard work and they were able to perfectly show their growth in the song. As can be seen from the scores of each song, this album was a roller coaster ride for me when listening to it in order. Every time I hear a song I really like, it is immediately followed by a song I can’t bear to listen to. Then, it slowly builds up to be more and more pleasant to hear, then crashes back down. There are definitely a lot of fillers on this album, so many that some are not that memorable and just resemble the other tracks. However, it also has great tracks that are some of my all-time favorite songs from the group now.

Artistic Creativity: 4/10.
Vocal Quality: 7/10
Music: 7.2/10