Kurayami Monogatari

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KARA – Girl’s Story August 18, 2015

Filed under: KARA — solarblade @ 5:06 am

girlsstory

Track Listing

  1. Mamma Mia!
  2. Summer☆gic
  3. Sunshine Miracle
  4. Love Click
  5. N.E.V.E.R.L.A.N.D.
  6. So Good
  7. Kiss Kiss Kiss
  8. Last Summer
  9. SUNNY DAYS
  10. Fanfare
  11. Forever Love

1. Mamma Mia!

I am definitely not surprised that the album would open with the first A-side released for the album (which was also the first single with their new member Young Ji after Nicole and Ji Young had left).  Honestly, with their string of awesome dance tracks, Mamma Mia! really suited their sound and I personally prefer the JPN version of the KOR just because the lyrics have a LOT more snap to it!  It’s just a happy and dance-friendly song and just kept me dancing all year!  Awesome song!

2. Summer☆gic

Then came the other single after “Mamma Mia!” and I wasn’t sure what to think because KARA and summer singles are just a given at this point.  I still think of all of them, it is the weak link of them, but it’s mostly because the chorus is kind of forgettable and cute KARA isn’t a style I’m too into so it just kind of fell to the wayside.

3. Sunshine Miracle

I just wished the summer songs would have split apart more because we get Sunshine Miracle once again after “Summer☆gic” and it still kind of falls flat too. On the single, this song was pretty decent and has a cute beach vibe going for it, but maybe it’s a little too formulaic for me so it just kind of goes by with not much of a strong opinion.

4. Love Click

At least we get a new song right?  Love Click moves the group away from the summer vibes and gives us another dance track to jam to.  I actually was surprised it didn’t come after “Mamma Mia!” because it would’ve just made sense.  Funny enough, I can get behind the cuteness here and the arrangement has just a cool vibe to it (especially the verses).  Fun song!

5. N.E.V.E.R.L.A.N.D.

As the album’s shortest song (not even making 3 minutes), this one begins with an interesting string/piano intro, but turns quickly into another quirky pop track from the group and they included a catchy phrase with ~let’s go to neverland~ and keeps up this girly and flirty vibe which is pretty awesome!  I still am a little confused by the classical motif in the beginning and end, but for how short it is, it’s quite good!

6. So Good

I had totally forgot this was the B-side for “Mamma Mia!” (and also a self-cover).  I think things were changing up for the group because this had more of a jazzy vibe to it with the brass and throwback kind of vibe which slightly reminded me of Girls’ Generation’s music half the time.  It’s a decent song and sticks out because of it’s heavy jazz style.

7. Kiss Kiss Kiss

I guess it makes sense that :So Good” came before because this song elans more towards funk music with the guitar licks and smokier vocals coming from the quartet.  Actually it really has this cool throwback style that a lot of K-pop groups are delving in.  It’s pretty catchy, maybe not quite as much as “So Good, but it’s rather decent for a funk tune.

8. Last Summer

Then we get Last Summer and I’m rather cringing that we have 4 summer-themed songs involved on the album.  Though like “SUNNY DAYS” it sets itself on this mid-tempo sot song which really bums me because Last Summer is just a carbon copy of it.  The vocals are still quite pleasant though, but the tune just really doesn’t go anywhere (actually it makes the aforementioned track stand out better because of how stripped yet similar of a song this is).  Meh song.

9. SUNNY DAYS

That being said this song coming right after just made it that more obvious that this was the better song and ironically was the best A-side of the single it came from.  It still is a pretty decent summer song though and it has a lot of interesting elements to it.  I only compare it to “Last Summer” because it does have lighter moments, but it has a bit more oomph to it (plus that descending sparkly sound is cool~).  Decent song!

10. Fanfare

Seems like the album was supposed to end with Fanfare so I was just expecting something grand.  I suppose it does feel like an ending track, but the tune kind of just seems weird to close the album because there’s guitars and some piano too.  As time moves on I’m just plain bored of the song and nothing really stands out, not even the girls can keep this song afloat.

11. Forever Love

Though what actually ends the album is a cover of an older K-pop group’s track.  While I never heard of Fin.K.L, I was curious to see how KARA was doing this song justice.  With a timpani opening the song, this definitely felt more like a fanfare-like ending.  Then it becomes a heavily-synthed up dance track.  Forever Love is quite nice and sounds like something from their debut album (in Japan).  Overall, good song and a better track to end the album with.

Tracks Recommended

  • Mamma Mia!
  • Forever Love
  • N.E.V.E.R.L.A.N.D.
  • Love Click
  • So Good

Song of Avoidance

  • Fanfare

Boy has KARA had a difficult year.  I mean it’s hard to lose 2 members after such a long run together and then having to deal with a new member who won through an audition.  Girl’s Story is the first with this 4-nin and it was decent.  I kind of wish they had an album where it was nothing but hard dance songs, but that’s just me.  There were a couple disappointing songs but for the most part it’s a solid release!

 

KARA – Summer☆gic/Sunshine Miracle/SUNNY DAYS June 4, 2015

Filed under: KARA — solarblade @ 9:07 pm

summergic

Track Listing

  1. Summer☆gic
  2. Sunshine Miracle
  3. SUNNY DAYS
  4. Summer☆gic (Instrumental)
  5. Sunshine Miracle (Instrumental)
  6. SUNNY DAYS (Instrumental)

1. Summer☆gic

Being the lead song (and the only one to get a PV), Summer☆gic brings us back to the cutesy style of KARA which is something I’m not terribly fond of.  It’s pretty lighthearted and while I do love the bounce of the arrangement and flow of the chorus, it’s a bit forgetful and somewhat lacking in some areas.  Compared to their other summer-themed A-sides, I feel like this one just missed the mark.

2. Sunshine Miracle

The next track focuses a bit more with the pop/rock beachside kind of track but still remaining as a cute song overall.  I actually kind of enjoyed this one slightly more than “Summer☆gic” even if the song utilizes a lot of the same stuff throughout.  That might not be enough to impress other people I don’t think.

3. SUNNY DAYS

Somehow, I feel like the opening of SUNNY DAYS was going to lead into a powerful track (like “GO GO Summer!”), but I was rather fooled as the song just kept on with the slower tempo.  This one does separate itself from the other two because of it’s slower groove and slight R&B dabs in the arrangement.  Add on the silky smooth vocals from the quartet and this is probably my favorite of the three.  I mean it still won’t beat out older songs, but it’s a pleasant tune overall.

As the 2nd and final single before the group’s 5th album is released, this summer single for the most part just kind of went by with not too much of an impression.  I think they got into this idea that they HAVE to do a summer-themed single every year and with each one they do, it gets more and more forgettable.  The only exception is SUNNY DAYS as it’s a nicer slow song that really shows off the group’s soothing vocals.  Still, Summer☆gic and Sunshine Miracle were just meh!

 

KARA – Mamma Mia! August 26, 2014

Filed under: KARA — solarblade @ 8:55 pm

mammamia

Track Listing

  1. Mamma Mia!
  2. So Good
  3. Mamma Mia! (Instrumental)
  4. So Good (Instrumental)
  5. Don’t Hurry (Limited C only)

1. Mamma Mia!

It’s been a while since KARA actually used a Korean song and translated to Japanese and used it as a leading A-side (probably not since “Jumping”).  Even though the Korean version was just released last week, the Japanese version didn’t have much to live up to as I knew I’d love the song regardless of language.  It’s a very cool track and I love the 80’s trip of nostalgia I had and all the ladies sound really good!  I actually enjoyed the Japanese version even slightly better than the Korean so that’s a surprise.

2. So Good

So the B-side is actually also another language self-cover from the same release as “Mamma Mia!”.  Like in the review, I said So Good had a lot of character and the funky jazzy vibes are just so nice to hear and the Japanese is actually quite decent likewise.  Nothing else much to be said really.

3. Don’t Hurry

Ironically, the 3rd song only found on one edition of the single is the only new track and even then, it’s a Korean track (makes me think it was leftoff of “DAY & NIGHT” for some off-hand reason).  Also it’s pretty much the ballad of the single and funyn enough this sounds like a song from their Korean album, “Full Bloom” with the R&B all over.  It’s OK, but nothing all that great.

 

 

So KARA’s first single in Japan after the lineup change and I was kind of stretched.  Like I love Mamma Mia! and So Good which is great, but this release felt lazy because both songs were just simply Korean songs turned Japanese which is a pet peeve of mine (especially making them A-sides in this day and time and with KARA having moved on from that).  Also, it wasn’t worth it for Don’t Hurry which was kind of boring.  I hope this was a lil setback.

 

KARA – DAY & NIGHT August 23, 2014

Filed under: KARA — solarblade @ 3:01 am

daynight

Track Listing

  1. Live
  2. Mamma Mia
  3. So Good
  4. Melancholy (24/7)
  5. Ppalganbul
  6. Iyagi

1. Live

KARA opens their mini with an acappella opening for Live.  Then it gets a little more groovy and full of bossa nova which is a surprising twist on a style they don’t get to sing in much and they sound really pleasant (especially since it’s only 4 of them nowadays).  It’s a fun song to listen to and we got solo lines all over the place which is great (even more for Seongyeon fans).  It’s a lively track and a nice way to start this mini-album off.

2. Mamma Mia

Then we get into the promotional track that was also the first taste of new member, Young Ji.  I didn’t think KARA would take a page from INFINITE’s 80’s sound with Mamma Mia but I’m loving it because it’s just upbeat and has that pizzaz that their lead-in songs usually have.  Though we didn’t get many Young Ji lines in comparison to “Live”, but it’s still overall a pretty damn cool song and it’s getting a Japanese translation!!!

3. So Good

Welp, KARA has decided to hit that funky vibe again for the next track, but I already could tell that the group sounds more upbeat and peppy when compared to the songs from “Full Bloom”.  It’s bouncy and just has a lot of character to it which I love a lot!  Definitely a good track here!

4. Melancholy (24/7)

A drum count-in for Melancholy?  I was wondering if this was going to be a rock track, but it turns out to something like “In The Game”, but once again the group actually sounds alive and is adding personality into this track which is great to hear!  The tune is just fun to listen to and puts a smile on my face when it comes on that’s for sure!

5. Ppalganbul

Of course it wouldn’t be a KARA release without one of the tracks exhibiting their R&B flavors.  Ppalganbul tones things down a bit with its chilled beat and overall slow jam kind of style.  Oh yeah it also keeps the funky areas around as well.  It’s a pretty cool song for them and the group just sounds really pretty together.  I enjoyed it quite a bit…not as much as the other songs on this mini, but it’s up there.

6. Iyagi

The mini of course has to end with a ballad though I felt like it’s just “Ppalganbul” but without the funky beats.  I mean it’s a K-pop ballad, it meets the expectations but I feel like it’s nothing totally unique to KARA so it kind of just comes off as OK at best.

 

 

With how disappointed I was with KARA’s “Full Bloom”, I was a bit skeptical coming into DAY & NIGHT especially with the lineup changes and honestly, this mini definitely picked them back up even with new member Young Ji.  Really, only one song disappointed me and it was the ubiquitous ballad from the group so that’s saying a lot!  Overall they’ve popped back on my radar for the time being…let’s hope this energy carries over to their Japanese releases!

 

KARA – Full Bloom

Filed under: KARA — solarblade @ 2:20 am

fullbloom

Track Listing

  1. Dul Junge Hana (Runaway)
  2. Suknyeoga Mos Dwae (Damaged Lady)
  3. 1+1
  4. In The Game
  5. Follow Me
  6. Smoothie
  7. 2Night
  8. Dul Junge Hana (Runaway) (Inst.)
  9. Suknyeoga Mos Dwae (Damaged Lady) (Inst.)

1. Dul Junge Hana (Runaway)

Used as the 2nd lead-in song for the album, Runaway kicks things off on a lighter note and not as hard as some of the previous lead-in tracks from KARA.  I do like the softer arrangement with acoustic guitar and just works up to this mid-tempo track.  I really do love the opening lines from Ji Young and Nicole though…it was very relaxing and pleasant and really stays at the same feeling throughout.  I don’t know if it works as the opening track though…seems very…flatline to get into the album (especially with “STEP” kicking too many ass).

2. Suknyeoga Mos Dwae (Damaged Lady)

So the actual promotional track was Damaged Lady and I was hoping they would release a banger (especially with how fond I have been with the lead-in songs.  I will say that it did sound a bit edgy than “Runaway” with the electric guitar riffs mixed with their already established R&B style.  I mean saying that, it definitely doesn’t hold a candle to stuff like “STEP” and “Pandora”, but it definitely was a solid choice to promote.  Different direction for the group but I liked it.

3. 1+1

Moving onto the new songs, 1+1 seems to kind of cater to their past style which is kind of cool!  This track is kind of glossy pop, but it does have some surprises like SeongYeon’s solo part that had a pretty cool sound to it.  Otherwise, this song really didn’t click for me much.  It’s their cute song and I usually don’t enjoy them too much.

4. In The Game

It seems that K-pop recently has been interested in releasing funky/jazz tracks and that’s what KARA gave us with In The Game.  It’s not to say that it isn’t bad because I found it to be fun and full of good vocals.  It’s a good track overall and wasn’t disappointed with it..give it a listen!

5. Follow Me

Man the beat is pretty forward in our next track, Follow Me.  When I first heard it, it was like they took the previous track and “Damaged Lady” and fused the ideas together to get this track.  Nothing to bad to comment upon it, but it just sounds a little forgettable.

6. Smoothie

I was expecting this song to be the group’s overly cute song but it’s actually a chilled out R&B track that took some ideas from “Follow Me” and swung with it.  I will say that I pretty much enjoyed the soft and relaxing nature of the ladies singing here.  Definitely put me into a state of lull.  It’s probably my favorite off this album that’s for sure!

7. 2Night

As the last song of the album, 2Night closes things out with a pretty upbeat pop track.  After the more slower ditties, 2Night does manage to wake my ass up, but not entirely because there’s something oddly familiar about it that I feel like the group has done before.  Maybe this should’ve been the opening song and “Runaway” could’ve ended it.  I don’t know this track is nice but likewise with the others, it felt lacking.

 

 

Honestly, I kind of felt like KARA with Full Bloom is such a farce for a title especially for a full bloom that ended with Nicole and Ji Young leaving the group after this album.  I do love the vocals which is normal with KARA but I felt like they lacked the energy and/or interest with this release.  The leading songs didn’t feel unique to me and the rest of the album just kind of paled when compared to their previous releases in Korea.  I just wasn’t into this one.

 

KARA – French Kiss December 16, 2013

Filed under: KARA — solarblade @ 4:24 am

frenchkiss

Track Listing

  1. French Kiss
  2. Girlfriend
  3. French Kiss (Instrumental)
  4. Girlfriend (Instrumental)

1. French Kiss

Seems strange that we’re getting ANOTHER winter song (because “Winter Magic” wasn’t enough).  French Kiss does seem a bit more lively of a song as stands as this kind of cute, poppy track.  Amongst their other songs they have out though, this felt slightly weaker than normal, almost more generic than anything in the “FANTASTIC GIRLS” era…so it really didn’t leave an impression on me.

2. Girlfriend

At least the B-side has a little more oomph to it.  Girlfriend kind of has this R&B sound to it that the group doesn’t do too much and I quite enjoy that a lot about the song.  The ladies sound really nice and kind of sound like they’re just having fun in the tune.

 

 

KARA releases a single to coincide with their best album, “BEST GIRLS” and French Kiss is kind of a weaker single.  I really didn’t think much of the leading track and doesn’t scream A-side unlike Girlfriend which sounded different.  With the group shifting with Nicole leaving and Ji Young contemplating to stay, it’ll be interesting how the group’s dynamic will be IF they continue to release in Japan.

 

KARA – FANTASTIC GIRLS December 4, 2013

Filed under: KARA — solarblade @ 2:45 pm

fantasticgirls

Track Listing

  1. Thank You Summer Love
  2. Burn! Burn! Heartbeat
  3. Bye Bye Happy Days!
  4. Rescue Me
  5. POP STAR
  6. Promise
  7. Endless Night
  8. Ichiban ni Watashi wo Dakishimete
  9. HANABI
  10. My Boy
  11. Happy Happy Love (Limited C only)

1. Thank You Summer Love

Opening the album is the group’s 2nd and final single released before the album.  As a summer song, I was already throwing my hands up in the air because they’ve done this sort of song of succeeded with “GO GO Summer!”.  Sadly, the other A-side had already done this as well and it just seems like it’s another clone and I just couldn’t really get it, but as it’s the opening track, I will say that it did well opening it up ^^.

2. Burn! Burn! Heartbeat

Moving into our first new track, Burn! Burn! Heartbeat has the cuter KARA sound mixed with their K-pop sound and I kind of dig it in this case because I’m just loving the beat and flow and of course the group sounds really nice together!  It’s definitely fitting to their image and definitely a strong album, but let’s see if they have more surprises xD.

3. Bye Bye Happy Days!

We move into the first A-side and it’s even synthier than the previous two tracks and this was represented as a summer song alongside the other A-side.  This actually reminds me more of “GO GO Summer!” which is kind of nice but like I said before, has a bit of unoriginality running through it.  For this album, it’s alright, but I can’t remember how it goes after a while.

4. Rescue Me

Getting into a stretch of new songs, we start with Rescue Me and it’s got a lof of groove to it and I have to say I quite like the sound of this one.  It’s a pretty cool dance track for the group and they still sound great still!  It isn’t as exciting like “Burn! Burn! Heartbeat” was but this is a pretty solid track from the group.

5. POP STAR

What a weird intro to our next track with the bloop/bleeps xD.  I can tell this album is going to be filled with this glossy pop tracks.  POP STAR sounds like a clone of “Rescue Me” for some reason but this has a little more speed and oomph to it so it definitely surpasses it.  Just a fun, bouncy pop track and I quite liked it

6. Promise

Promise comes in to tone things down a little bit by being more of a mid-tempo track.  At first I thought they were going to utilize dubstep with that intro but luckily it didn’t turn out that way.  The song is quite chill and very smooth all the way through and I just enjoyed it all the way through…the ladies sound so pretty (I wish I knew their names by their voices).  Definitely my favorite track so far now.

7. Endless Night

Then comes the goofy sounding ditty, Endless Night and I’m noticing their reusing synth sounds which kind of turns me off and adding that this is more of a cuter song coming from KARA, I was kind of put off slightly.  I don’t know why these kind of songs just turn me off, but they don’t seem to really work for KARA.  Meh….

8. Ichiban ni Watashi wo Dakishimete

Unfortunately we get 3 meh songs and I’m already dreading it.  Though this is an actual ballad here.  I’m loving whoever is leading the track in the first verse though because she sounds beautiful and suited the arrangement.  The chorus though is a bit of a bore however and after a while it does kind of drag itself…it was OK at first bit now it’s slightly forgettable.

9. HANABI

So both main B-sides make the album cut and I can’t really care about either of them.  HANABI was the better of the two since it wasn’t a re-tread song.  I do love that the song tried to be a lot more louder and broader than “Ichiban ni Watashi wo Dakishimete” but the song drags as well and I don’t think I remember the vocals much here and well yeah…just not much else to say here.

10. My Boy

The last song on most editions of the album, My Boy is the other B-side and is a Japanese self-cover of their Korean song “Date”.  I did say that in comparison to the Korean take, it’s actually not as lifeless and boring, but comparing to the other tracks on the album, it’s not as memorable either and sounds like ANOTHER summer song hahah.  Overall meh xD

11. Happy Happy Love

On Limited C onlys, you get a bonus track in Happy Happy Love and it’s a 3 minute track…hm.  As a bonus track, I was surprised this wasn’t just added because in comparison, it actually has a sense of class and sexiness and I enjoyed that sound because nothing on this album came off that way to me.  It definitely has a bit of a quirky side to it and even though it’s a bit short it stuck out to me!

Tracks Recommended

  • Promise
  • Burn! Burn! Heartbeat
  • POP STAR
  • Happy Happy Love
  • Rescue Me

Song of Avoidance

  • Endless Night

It seems like with KARA, their 4th album, FANTASTIC GIRLS felt like maybe the group is losing their effort and interest because even though the first half was ok and not terrible, the 2nd half was actually more boring and lifeless.  Unfortunately, this is the last album with the current line-up since Nicole is leaving the group at the end of the month (plus I have one more single to review “French Kiss”).  FANTASTIC GIRLS definitely a step down from “Girls Forever” IMO.