Late review by SIX MONTHS, eh? Sorry, since I don’t want to just keep it in my drafts forever I’ve decided to post. It’s almost the end of the year and a rush of blog ideas (why do you have to come on the busiest months--deym brain!) excites me, but I gotta post what’s first. And KARA’s only Korean release this 2015 has made itself a spot. So, here it is!
EP: In Love
Release Date: May 26, 2015
My first KARA review after two years! And my overall second for KARA since Fantastic Girls
(whence my review for that was actually a test drive, or my initial try of talking about songs on the net. LOL). And so I chose to review this one only after a string of releases and comebacks; does this mean something? What makes this mini-album special?General comments:
Oh, for a plus fact, this is technically the first time I am reviewing Korean! Which is more challenging because KPop is... well, KPop. A fusion of many styles, that goes as far as many people saying they copy the Western style too much. Trying to be as perspective as I can be, I say it has derived greatly from the western-style though. This makes KPop more diversified than one could ever think.
The latest mini-album by KARA, quite opposite from its previous Korean releases, is a treat for pure KPop lovers. We know that they tend to have JPop-like songs; not bad, especially for a JPop fan like me; but I am sometimes conscious of how they get over-Japanese for Korean tastes. In Love
is the easy formula for this petty worry.
Speaking of petty. In Love
is a petty album in terms of power. When I say power the KARA way, we talk of loudness. Their signature songs' main component, aside from having the "catch" or the "hook" literally KARA fans are hooked at, is the explosion of sounds + effects along with the group's high-pitched vocals. KARA has a musicality that, in the lines of appreciation, will force you to get up and get wild. In In Love,
that force lay low to some degree. Albeit most of the tracks are fast-paced, the album lacked the loudness KARA has been famous at.
But as initially pointed out, this album is a treat for the KPop genre fans. Everything in the package sounds authentically KPop to me; of course this is arguable but in the sense of the run-of-the-mill KPop sound, the album got what it takes. We could throwback to Rock U era though we know that the girls are now way mature than they ever were, and, not to mention, in a changed line-up; but still, cutesy songs are KARA's forte aside from their party, JPop-ish tracks.
And so that's what I can say about the album. It's cute! Ear-friendly, from the upbeat to the ballads. While they've polished the cute image since 2008, the latest album does not fail the past releases' worth, neither does it offer a boring overall sound. Despite lacking in power (the main track almost always dictates the impression of an album/single; and just like Damaged Lady
it apparently deviates from the novelty), In Love is a pleasant album to listen to.Song by song comments:01 Starlight
, the opening track, is a retro-ish song that leans on the slower side, and has an arrangement apt for its title. The sparkles sfx actually helped, along with different instruments and effects that can be heard at close intervals. But even if there's a lot going on in the song it retains its suave sound. The danceable rhythm matches well with the busy yet relaxed atmosphere! KARA's vocals are quite smooth here too.02 Cupid
has the MV and is therefore the catchy one; the album's showcase. But this is unlike KARA's powerful A-sides (as explained in the general comments) due to its mellow pop-funk sound layered on a classic Hallyu flair. Yes, it sounds sooo
K-girl-group A-side and listening to it sometimes make me feel like its not KARA I'm hearing (if not for the prominent vocals, I swear!)
Its wonderful bass line, irregular rhythm shifts, Youngji's whispered rapping and the no-strain high notes are the key elements that I like in the song, and even though I won't put it in line with my past favorites this is an absolute LSS-worthy track.03 그땐 그냥 (Back Then)
At this point of listening I've drawn a conclusion that In Love
is one of KARA's mature-sounding album, providing that simplicity is the key. This mid-tempo, mid-range track starts smoothly with acoustic guitars as the sole accompaniment which continue until the verses, where percussion is added in the refrain, and the rest of song stays in the path. The uniform vocals are executed nicely, complimenting the modest instrumentals. Hara's voice is especially nice here! And Seungyeon should sing more of this genre.04 Peekaboo
is the reason for the remark that this album is cute. Sung by Gyuri and Youngji, this aegyo
track is super catchy that I sometimes think this is more striking than Cupid
. Furthermore, it's a subtle throwback to KARA's Rock U
kind of songs. It would be nuicer if all the current members sung this one.05 I Love Me
could pass as a B-side track in a Japanese album; to be honest it's out of place here. But, the weirdly-placed dance hall effects, the constant chord progression, and the less sensible humdrum is something I found displeasing that I won't even put it in line with their vigorous JPop songs. Subjectively, I'll easily push this song at the end of all my lists. Though I gotta say it still has the merit for being catchy, easy to sing.
To be honest even if the group with the new line-up has released decent materials, I am worried that their 'glory' in terms of musicality will never be redeemed again. If that's so, maybe the mellowed down theme of this mini-album is a step to a new (yet safe) direction.
Album rating: ♪♪♪♪ (4 lovely eight notes out of 5)