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[Review] SNSD – “The Boys” (***)

18 Oct

Girl’s Generation, arguably the biggest and most popular girl group in Korea and really much of Asia, is ready to conquer the charts again with their newest offering, “The Boys”, their third album. They’ve amassed a huge fanbase with their looks, talents, and their personalities. “Gee” may have catapulted the girls to superstardom but it’s their later singles, “Oh”, “Run Devil Run”, and “Hoot” that solidified their status. Each year, their styles have matured, becoming more chic, improving their singing, and produced better quality music. In short, they get fiercer and fiercer every year.

I’m not a huge fan of Girl’s Generation, to be honest. For the longest time, I’ve tried to avoid their songs simply because the sheer size of the group (9 girls!) didn’t appeal to me. I like smaller groups with more chances for everyone to sing more than 5 seconds. Try as I might, however, I ended up falling for their charms and their uber-addicting music.

The lead single from the album, “The Boys”, isn’t as ferocious as it thinks it is. It definitely has more bite than the innocent purrs of “Run Devil Run” or “Hoot” but it’s definitely not as fierce as the girls try to make it. With that said, this is a great track. The instrumental creeps on you and amps up the sexiness of the girls’ voices. “Girls’ Generation make you feel the heat” is a little tame but it sticks to your head. My favorite part of the song is the dance break where the creeping sound turns into a marching beat, as some of the girls sing-talk. Sooyoung and Hyoyeon are believably fierce in the track, bringing some much needed sass to the bridge.

The girls considerably hold back on the sexy as the album continues. The second track, “Telepathy”, is pretty much back to basics for SNSD. This track is harmless but not without its charms. It reminds me of some 80s music especially because of its instrumentals.

I’m a little baffled at this point of the album. I feel like SNSD all but held back on the sexiness that “The Boys” firmly established at the start. They’re back to safe, comfortable (if still gorgeous) singing. “Say Yes” is a mellow track with its bright synths and the girls sing in their higher range. There isn’t really anything significant about the song as if it’s just filler material.

“Trick” tries to reestablish the sexiness at the start of the album. There’s a coy and playful nature to the girls’ voices here, aided by, instead of diminished by, some nice distortions in their voices. There are some parts where I thought they served too much aegyo for a track clearly meant to be sexy and I think it distracted from the whole song.

“Spring Day” is a sweet tune that is right up the girls’ alley. By this point, I’ve surrendered any hope that SNSD is trying to amp up the maturity and sexiness that they displayed in the first album. The instrumental is filled with mellow guitars and strings that add to the romantic lushness of the track. The girls sing comfortably but they don’t sound like they’re trying to go beyond their limits in the first place.

I think I just melted in goo with “My J”. There’s a childish ring to the track and the girls all wear their aegyo too thickly. It’s not my cup of tea. The instrumental is too syrupy and the girls are all singing with childish glee, like they’re 12 or 13 at least.

What an odd album composition. The fact that this track followed the syrupy “My J” is a little irksome. The girls put their mini skirts on again for a track that is oddly compelling. “Oscar” has the same creeping sound that “The Boys” have and some of the girls sound so adult and mature that I can hardly believe they’re the same people who just sang with their childish voices.

Now this is a great track. “Top Secret” has the same classic sound that “Hoot” had and I love how the girls sound when they sing the chorus in unison. There’s a playful sexiness to their voices that I just can’t help but adore. The instrumental sound jazzy and colorful that livens up this album considerably. I adore this song and I suspect it has to do with how mature they sound here. As in, they’re singing like their ages.

“Lazy Days” is such a fun track that doesn’t exactly sound astonishing but doesn’t sound too young for them either. It’s somewhere in between “My J” and “Top Secret”. The girls sing comfortably and I guess it fits with the theme of the track and its comfortable sound.

The more I think about it, the more I feel like this whole album is a 90s throwback. This song, if I didn’t know it was by SNSD, I feel like it was from the 90s. The instrumental sounds so 90s (not that that’s a bad thing) and the girls sound so pretty. “Sunflower” is a pretty track that makes me nostalgic (since I am through and through a 90s kid) and I like how romantic the girls seem to sound. Again, SNSD is one of the best group vocals among the idols and they sing so beautifully together.

This song oddly seems like an anime song. “Vitamin” sounds like a song that belongs in one of the Japanese animes and I feel like the fact that the girls’ spent so much time promoting in Japan made their music even brighter. It’s a shame because I fell really hard for the maturity they’ve displayed. Still, “Vitamin” brings out the girls’ best sides vocally.

I never listened to the Japanese version of “Mr. Taxi” but I find that this song is so ridiculously catchy. It’s all that I can hope for in an SNSD track: sexy, playful, but never crossing into ho territory. The girls harness the pulsing track’s energy to make this song so appealing.

Overall, I was baffled by this album. It’s a mix of very sexy SNSD and very childish SNSD that somehow makes me feel a little icky sometimes. I could have made two SNSD mini albums with different themes and sounds that are more consistent with these songs. Overall, I did like the album, but some songs were just too hard to like because they were just too syrupy.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

–Clarence

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