Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Girls Generation 'Lion Heart' Album Review

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It's been such a long time since Girls' Generation last released an album in South Korea that I began to think this day would never come. But it's finally here - Girls' Generation are back with 'Lion Heart', their first studio album since 2013's 'I Got A Boy' and their first as an eight piece.

It's clear from the offset that a lot of effort has been put into this album campaign considering that it's being promoted with not one, not two but THREE singles. We've already been treated to 'Party' which was released earlier this Summer to huge critical & commercial success and we now have the music videos for the title track Lion Heart and 'You Think'.

For fans of Girls' Generation more cute concepts then Lion Heart is right up your street. A retro inspired pop track, the girls showcase off their softer side with wonderful harmonies and cute styling. I was initially unsure about this song based on the teaser but I actually really enjoy this song. I like how the focus of the song is on the vocals and harmonisation which isn't all that common in K-Pop. It reminds me of tracks from their 'Oh!' and 'Twinkle' albums which isn't a bad thing.

'You Think' showcases a different side to the girls, showing off their sexier and harder hitting side of their sound. You Think is a high energy R&B/Pop track with soaring ad-libs and a killer rap. Packed to the brim with attitude and sex appeal, this is sure to appeal to fans of tracks such as 'The Boys' and 'Run Devil Run'. I initially heard this song in demo form before the girls recorded it so I'm having to adjust hearing this sung in Korean but it's a great song. I was hoping for something a bit more hard hitting, something that was less sass and more urban. 'Party' is probably my favourite of the singles, it's fun, unfiltered electro pop. I love the production of the song and the melody of the song is so catchy that it gets stuck in your head after one listen. The perfect Summer single. 'One Afternoon' continues the retro sound of Lion Heart but slows it way down, it's very mellow and laid-back - it's the sort of song I think you'd hear in an elevator. It's pleasant but forgettable.

'Show Girls' first appeared on the girls' Japanese album 'The Best' last year. I'm not usually a fan of them re-recording Japanese tracks in Korean as they tend to lose their magic when sung in Korean (Mr Taxi in Korean is a bit rubbish) but Show Girls survives the translation and actually sounds really good in Korean. I might actually prefer it in Korean. 'Fire Alarm' sees Girls' Generation in more familiar territory with a super catchy electro pop beat and catchy hooks. The verses are a little weak but the bridge and chorus really bring the energy to the song. 'Talk Talk' is one of the highlights on the album for me. A sultry R&B ballad, the girls sound phenomenal with this sort of sound, it's sophisticated and shows a more mature sound. I wish they did more songs like this, I do love R&B songs like this.

'Green Light' is probably the best of the upbeat songs, it has a great drum based melody and is an instant head bopper. They sound a little robotic during the chorus to the point where I don't even know who it is that's singing but this song is just so damn catchy. It's my most played track from the album so far. 'Paradise' feels like the sister track to Party, it's a simple yet effective electro pop song. It's nothing groundbreaking but it doesn't set out to be anything other than fun pop music. 'Check' is one of the best songs the girls have done in Korean in years. This is nineties inspired R&B pop packed with hooks and excellent vocals particularly from Hyoyeon. I'm glad they made this B-Side to Party so they could perform during their Party promotions, it deserves it's own music video.

I'm not sure why but 'Sign' sounds like a song you'd hear on a movie soundtrack. It's pleasant and fits well within the context of the album but it's a bit too middle of the road to stand out. There is no big vocal moment or a key change to elevate the song at any point. Closing track 'Bump It' is a weird one, it starts off like a typical GG ballad before breaking into a beat with lots of rapping. It's very nineties girl group much like Check but it sounds a little dated.

In comparison to their previous studio albums, this is a huge step up from the largely vanilla 'I Got A Boy' album but only 'Check' matches the highs of tracks such as 'Trick' and 'Mr Mr' from previous albums. What we have here and is a first for the girls, is an album that is coherent - there is no dud track, no track that should be skipped and each track brings something to the album. The track order is practically perfect with only 'One Afternoon' feeling out of place, it would be much more suited as the album closer. If I was to rate this album against their other Korean output, I'd place it ahead of I Got A Boy and probably on par with Mr Mr and The Boys for the time being but once again, nothing matches the quality of their Japanese output.

Source: Liam Likes

 
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