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[Album Review] Girls’ Generation TTS – “Twinkle” (*****)

18 May

Girls’ Generation is, to say it gently, not my favorite group in K-pop. They, along with Super Junior, represent what I dislike about boy and girl groups. Sometimes, the group might be bloated with untalented girls and boys just because they fit a certain image. That is not to say that these people aren’t hardworking. It’s just that they are unnecessary fat that once trimmed might get to the tasty meat. With the first sub group of this aging band, Girls’ Generation did just that: trimmed the fat to the bare meat and bones of the group. This means that the three girls here represent the very best of the group. Taeyeon, Seohyun, and Tiffany are the most gifted singers and it shows here in this magnificent little album.

The very first song, the title album, “Twinkle” shows just how radically different this group is going to be. There are no inane raps or subpar singers ruining the song. It’s just straight-up gorgeous vocals here. The girls have an insanely great harmonization that I cannot imagine them singing separately. Each girls gets her own verse that no one here is taking over or carrying a heavier burden. In fact, I have to say, everyone sounds damn right unimprovable in their parts. I love that each girl has a part where they get to belt out a few high notes, so just everyone knows that they can sing. The melody is so addicting that I’m surprised I’ve never heard SNSD do something this soulful before.

The rest of the album is remarkably listenable and often engaging. The ballads are drop-dead gorgeous: “Baby Steps” is touching without being dripped in banality that the 9-girl group ballads usually are. Here, the girls have the vocals to demonstrate the emotions of the lyrics. “Love Steps” falls in that same category though it’s a tad less sorrowful than the first one. Again, the girls all shine with their individual parts. What I admire from these songs is the fact that they sound like early 00’s R&B-pop that fits their voices. It’s a nice change from the thoroughly modern stylings that they’ve succumbed to in “The Boys”.

Elsewhere, the upbeat songs are a mix between the cutesy image that they’ve fostered and the more mature take on pop without going all cynical. “Oh My God” is the type of SNSD song that will normally grate on my ears but the catchy lyrics and the top-notch vocals, mixed with the horns and classy touch make it a great song. “Library” reminds me a little of Gwen Stefani’s first album with its peppy dance melody and emotionally charged singing that seems to contradict but here makes so much melodic sense. I probably should hate “Goodbye, Hello” given its signature adolescent charms and girly “Gee”-style melody. But like “OMG” its charms come from the engaging vocals that seems to, at this point, have a hold on me. The last song, “Checkmate” is a solid closer harking back all the themes and melodies explored throughout the album.

With this mini-album, Girls’ Generation TTS seemed to have done the impossible for me: make me believe in their talent once again. Not that I ever thought these three were bad but rather I just underestimated them. Heck, I’m going out on a limb and say this is my favorite album of the year so far. So yeah. Keep wowing me SNSD!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Clarence

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