For those unfamiliar, just know this: TWICE continue to exist as pure joy incarnate. Formed by aging K-pop star, and music magnate, J.Y. Park for his JYP label in 2015 via a competitive reality show, the group’s birth wasn’t without controversy. Supposedly formed with audience participation, Park added eliminated members to the group following the series’ completion, lending credence to accusations that the whole collective had been chosen well before the extended teaser of the show.

If such was the case, well, JYP knew best. Imagining TWICE without the likes of Momo, one of two Japanese members, their choreographer and lead dancer, is a sad affair. As much as detractors love to smear K-pop as manufactured, the results are often undeniable.

The nine-member TWICE are an absurdly efficient and productive (not to mention profitable) pop machine, churning out releases, and hits, several times a year like clockwork. FANCY YOU, their first Korean language release of 2019, follows up their last mini (read: EP) by less than six months, and finds the group arguably more charming and bursting with creative, goofy fun than ever.

For all the fuss in the States over BLACKPINK at the moment, their well oiled, internationally-focused beast doesn’t enjoy quite the same level of domination in their home country. As K-pop converts more international ears than ever before, the likes of IU and TWICE boast unparalleled popularity in their own backyard without extending, whether by design or desire, as boldly into international waters. It makes their music perhaps more fun: BLACKPINK feel ready to sound at home in any club, while TWICE remain distinctly, sweetly Korean.

This isn’t to say Korea’s very particular scene always works in TWICE’s favor. In a musical culture distinctly obsessed with a lead single’s ability to offer an instant, unmistakable bop, the ladies here, of late, seem more concerned with offering a full experience than matching the unenviable peaks of their earliest smashes.

It’s both funny and odd to see fans declare FANCY YOU the group’s strongest overall body of work yet while, simultaneously, expressing overall disappointment due to the title track’s perceived relative subtlety compared to, say, ‘TT’ (or ‘Cheer Up’, or ‘Likey’, or ‘Dance the Night Away’: TWICE have dropped more #1 hits in 3 short years than many groups manage in a career).

You’d do well to pay them no mind. ‘Fancy You’ is TWICE at their most vibrant, linking back up with adored songwriting duo Black Eyed Pilseung for the first time since ‘Likey’, while the remainder of the effort continues the member’s trend of writing their own material, with group leader Jihyo penning ‘Girls Like Us’ (with none other than Charli XCX having a hand in the song’s music), casually tossing out an effortlessly addictive hook sure to stay in your head all day, and other members having a hand in every track following it. Momo, having proved her songwriting chops with Summer Nights’ flawless ‘Shot Thru the Heart’, co-writes the energetic ‘HOT’. In fact, each member that took the time to write here makes a great case for the group having more freedom with their songwriting.

Fans can debate TWICE’s best release all day long, but one thing is certain: in an industry that tends to allow group’s shorter releases to entirely depend on a single, TWICE have delivered an EP that’s dependable track after track. While, more often than not, groups in K-pop hinge hopes for success on one big swing each release, TWICE (along with their friendly competition, Red Velvet) seem determined to establish a catalogue they’re proud of. FANCY YOU is yet another joyous, irresistible addition to an already impressive discography. Knowing TWICE, they’ll be back with yet more rousing fun before the year’s out. If their tenacity to date is any sign, they’ll come out swinging. My money’s on another bop to silence those expectations.