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[Album Review] SISTAR – Alone (***)

10 May

I have to admit that SISTAR is one of my favorite girl groups in K-pop, perhaps only second to 2NE1. They are brimming with talent even if it is unfairly, but understandably, lopsided in favor of Hyorin’s immaculate voice. I suspect that the only reason I love SISTAR is Hyorin but that will only underestimate my respect for the rest of the group: Bora and her confident raps, Soyu and her beautiful underutilized vocals, and Dasom’s cuteness. Yes, SISTAR has greatly improved since their debut and their most recent album showed that growth.

Alone has to be the best album that SISTAR managed to produce, only that doesn’t say a lot. SISTAR has only ever had one great song in every album with the rest of their songs bordering on mediocre half the time. In this album, that one great song goes to the title single, “Alone”, easily the best and most mature SISTAR song ever. It’s extremely catchy, deeply heartfelt, with every member performing at their best. Hyorin has never sounded more astounding before, giving us a vulnerable and soulful vocal performance that defines excellent. If you think that is hyperbolic, then check the second verse and try to disagree with me. Bora is asked to do little towards the end but she does provide a nice closer that fits in with the song. Soyu is always in Hyorin’s shadow but here she shines brightly during her bridge and during the second half of the chorus, where she does fine, vulnerable vocals. Dasom isn’t given much except the first verse but that is perhaps a good thing given her very limited capabilities. Still, she does sing well in her verse.

Beyond that song, the album doesn’t reach the bliss that the title track is. “No Mercy” is a fun song but it isn’t fresh or that interesting. “Lead Me” is the second best song in the album, especially with its mature theme. The song is significantly aided by Bora, who delivers such a charismatic rap here that it uplifts the song’s typical structure. Plus, the backup cooing is a very nice touch. “Girls on Top” is such a disposable track that I’m baffled how it ended up on this album. Lastly, Hyorin’s solo song “I Choose To Love You” finds the girl doing what she should have been allowed to do long ago–sing solo. She’s phenomenal in the track but the instrumental is really not original or fresh.

Alone is SISTAR’s best album to date but if the title track didn’t exist in this album, I would probably downgrade this album by 1 and 1/2 stars. The title track is just so damn impressive that it inadvertently improves the rest of the songs. Nonetheless, SISTAR is definitely improving and I can’t wait to see more of this improvement in the future.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Clarence

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