- First Time
- Shout It Out
- Only One
- WOO WEEKEND
- I SEE ME
- MASAYUME CHASING
- The Shadow
- close to me
- Call my name
- Baby you..
- Tail of Hope
1. First Time
Opening the album is the ONLY new song of the album, First Time. I felt like BoA opened up things with a pretty solid track with a nice beat and cool vocals that came along with it. It does have a similar feel to other songs on the album, but it works because a lot of the songs are pretty strong so it’s definitely fitting. I do wish there were more new tracks, but First Time made a lot of sense and did its job, not bad!
2. Shout It Out
As the rest of the album is old songs, Shout It Out is the first to come up and it was her 6th A-side. Given that it’s the funky song, Shout It Out was a breath of fresh air amongst her upbeat songs and BoA sounded lively and fitting to the atmosphere. There’s just something about the beats and piano chords and the attitude that caught me off guard and just worked all over. Great party song for sure!
3. Only One
Many had thought that the era started with Only One because she had gone on a lengthy break and released another Korean album and returned to Japan by self-covering it in Japanese. Turned out it was the 3rd A-side released for the album. To me, the song was pretty low-key and chill which is one of BoA’s strengths and I was happy to see something like this (add an extra dance beat and it could’ve been another “Eien”). It’s a nice track, though it does get passed up by many other of the songs on the album.
Funny enough, it is the only B-side that isn’t bunched up with the others on the album. As the coupling from “MASAYUME CHASING”, I was so happy to see the track included since it’s upbeat and really shows off an exciting party vibe, almost like “Shout It Out” but with more synths involved. BoA also sounds vocally upbeat and I just find myself humming the tune everytime it comes on. I also get this feeling of a beach party too, but it could just be me…I definitely loved this song for sure! Although that outro…was weird IMO
Seems like after the “FUN” wore off, Message comes in with a lighter vibe and gives us this cool and chilled out atmosphere. I do like the acoustic guitars mixed with BoA’s R&B style and when I first heard this single, I fell back in love with BoA’s music for sure. There’s just something so relaxing but cool about this song that I just dug everything…she sounds great and this song was a pretty great entry to her discography.
6. WOO WEEKEND
Like I said above, many had thought “Only You” started the era off while everything before it was jut kind of best album fodder. The next three tracks weren’t in that list so seeing them make the cut rather surprised me. Going back to mid 2010, WOO WEEKEND really doesn’t seem to fit the album because while the funky vibes are cool and the 80s pop is neat, there’s just something that doesn’t fit here. It lacks a lot of deep beats (honestly could’ve used some). I do like it’s another upbeat inclusion, but I don’t seem to connect much as I did back then.
Released as BoA’s first DVD single, Milestone kind of was in the middle of all these different releases she was putting out (well avex more like it) and in the hubbub, we had this ballad. After these upbeat/R&B songs, a full ballad seemed so random on this album. A simple piano/strings ballad, Milestone did good for BoA’s vocals for the most part, but I still feel like the song is way too short and it ends way too abruptly (I kind of wished they had address that problem on the album, but they didn’t). Didn’t care for this track with its problems.
8. I SEE ME
Released as a digital single before being included as a B-side on “Milestone”, I SEE ME still sounds leaps and wonders better than its A-side. Another ballad, I SEE ME picked a nicer style to take over and BoA sounds a lot more smoother and good. It’s got a nice classy sound and BoA just gave a nice performance and the chorus is so nice and memorable in my opinion. Definitely sounded the closest to the remainder of the tracks to be honest.
9. MASAYUME CHASING
Moving from the OLD songs to the 7th A-side and final before the album’s release, MASAYUME CHASING was a huge song for BoA being tied to a pretty well-known anime, Fairy Tail. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but this song started off a lot like “Tail of Hope” but quickly gained speed and a cool melody and dance beat that I really dug through the entire song. It really doesn’t come off as an anison track which is definitely a plus too! Even the rapping section is quirky and charming…I don’t know why but it was a lovely song and it still is today!
10. The Shadow
Moving into a string of B-sides, the first was from “Only You” and is also a Japanese self-cover. I do remember it being one of the better songs from the Korean album, so I was excited to hear this in Japanese and it didn’t disappoint. I also stand by my original stance that this song sounds rather mechanical lyrically and it does somewhat bother me, but it has a nice attitude and BoA of course sounds great, especially in the chorus. It’s OK, but I do wish it didn’t sound like clockwork. Still it’s worth a listen!
11. close to me
Then the B-side from “Shout It Out” appears and I was surprised she was singing a lot of this song in English alongside her Japanese which is a nice treat. I remember this song was such a 180 from its leading song by having a somewhat BONNIE PINK-like atmosphere to it. It’s definitely one of the more sentimental ballads of the album and I personally loved it since she sounds so good in a deeper tone and the lyrics stood out to me (could be the English though). Very nice!
12. Call my name
Even though it isn’t a B-side (sister A-side to “Message”), Call my name is still my favorite song from this album hands down! There’s something so mysterious and cold about this song that just caught my attention and kept itself on my mind ever since the single release. BoA’s performance is just as compelling as the song’s arrangement and I loved every second of it. Even when the chorus throws a double vocal melody that added this wonderful mix of notes and harmonies. I don’t know who arranged this but this was FANTASTIC…one of her best songs in her career yet IMHO!
13. Baby you..
It’s the B-side from “Tail of Hope”! Actually it’s really another Japanese self-cover, but it’s of a digital single from Korea, “Geuleon Neo (Disturbance)”. Why the name chance beats me, but hey it’s here. There’s something about this song that kind of just reminds me of “Only You” with the chilled atmosphere, but also hides a certain R&B flair. I never was one for Disturbance, and the self-cover doesn’t really do much to sway me in a direction. Though it’s not a bad song at least.
14. Tail of Hope
Ending the album is the A-side, Tail of Hope and I found it interesting it wasn’t “MASAYUME CHASING” since it was the big one. Though given it’s upbeat sound, Tail of Hope made sense to close things out on a strong note. Like the aforementioned song, it’s got that same breezy atmosphere with slapped beats and sparkly synths added to the arrangement. Made for a pretty nice closure to the album!
- Call my name
- MASAYUME CHASING
- close to me
Song of Avoidance
There’s really two ways to look with this album, if you’re a casual fan trying to get into BoA (though by now I think she’s well-known in the community) WHO’S BACK? is probably her best album in a LOOOOONG time, a lot of these songs are well-produced and well-sung. All of these songs were a LOT better than anything she pulled off in “IDENTITY” so that’s a great thing for me since I was sorely disappointed in that one. HOWEVER, only one new track?!? That’s terribly weak for BoA, especially since her last album dropped back in early 2010. Overall, awesome album, but definitely wasn’t worth the wait nor the amount of anything new here (First Time wasn’t worth the wait).