Yes, that’s Siwon contemplating whether or not to bitch-slap the people who put his latest album together. Trust me man, if you and I are on the same page, it will be crystal clear by the end of this review.
SM Entertainment released Super Junior‘s 4th studio album today (13th in Korea) titled “Bonamana“. With a title like that to begin with, I was pretty curious to hear what SuJu had in store this year. The minute the title track (Bonamana) was revealed, I was quite pumped about this record, no lie! ‘Bonamana’ is by far the most infectious song of 2010. Although there are plenty of listeners out there who feel that this song is too ‘Sorry, Sorry‘ and not enough of an evolution from before, I personally agree that it is in fact not that different from last year’s hit, but I also believe SuJu took the sounds and style they felt comfortable calling their own and focused on identifying with it. ‘Bonamana’ is the result of that revelation. There are these things called genres and have you paid attention to how similar a lot of what falls under these specific genres sound like? ‘Sorry, Sorry’ and ‘Bonamana’ could be considered blood relatives in the music world. All of 2NE1’s music, for example, sounds relatively similar because they’ve zeroed in on a specific style and haven’t veered away from it. Nothing wrong with that. ‘Bonamana’ is, in essence, a perfect pop song. It’s up-beat, quick, has style and it’s memorable. It’s a definite hit.
‘Bonamana’ is followed by ‘Boom Boom‘. Given the name, you’d think this would be even more explosive than the prior song, but that’s not the case. Boom Boom‘s instrumental reminds me of something you’d play at a boxing match. Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeet’s get ready to rummmble, right? I don’t hate this song, but it’s less inspiring than the title track. It lacks creativity and it’s too average, especially now that Super Junior is looked upon as this boyband of epic proportions. ‘Coagulation‘, the next song on the album, hits the brakes completely. It’s a ballad with nothing but a piano playing for about 2/3 of the song. In my opinion, that’s quite a risky move for 2 reasons: 1.) the singer’s pipes have to be sustainable and impressively grand, or else it will end up a complete snore-fest, and 2.) if, say, the piano isn’t consistent and interesting enough and has too many rests between measures, it will end up FOR SURE a complete snore-fest. Well, Super Junior managed to successfully accomplish both my fears with this song. Coagulation‘s only interesting factor is its weird title. The rest is forgettable and fucking drowsy.
The album picks back up after a dry spell with ‘My Only Girl‘. This is a mid tempo song with relatively less layers of processing. It has a really nice beat and the chorus, although very repetitive, is seasoned nicely with a catchy melody. It’s one of those songs I’d like to play in my car. Along with ‘Shake It Up!‘. By this time in the album, my expectations of an even better track than Bonamana have flown out of the window. ‘Shake It Up!’ isn’t a sound that I haven’t heard before. It’s not progressive music at all, but in the context of this album, it’s good enough to give it a few listens. I don’t hate it, but like ‘Coagulation’, it’s a a forgettable track and it’s obviously a filler. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll reach the end of this song without knowing it.
‘In My Dream‘ is a ballad that does a better job of keeping me awake and listening. It has a pleasant aura about it and the instrumentation compliments the group’s vocals much more nicely than some of the other ballads on this record. But I’m going to have to pull out my Bitch-fit Pass right now. As much as I enjoy listening to Kyuhyun sing, I’ve had enough ballads for my taste so far in this ELEVEN track album. And not that I have a problem with ballads, but the ones here are terribly generic and bland and way too plain to enjoy. ‘In My Dream’ may sound kind of pretty, but it’s no excuse to deprive it of creative elements. SME is using the same formula in their ballads over and over again from one artist to another and it’s going no where. We’re in the year 2010, yet these songs are a pile of recycled, senseless material…
From one ballad, we’re drowned even longer with another one. If I was listening to ‘One Fine Spring Day‘ (Ryeowook solo) without having had already listened to the rest of this album, I’d be quite pleased. I think this is the closest to nailing it as Super Junior got in the Ballad Department. As soon as Ryeowook hit his first line, I was relieved. The delicate piano and his subtle voice are well pieced together. This song is elegant and it doesn’t wear as quickly as the rest of the ballads on this album.
‘Good Person‘ (along with ‘Here We Go‘) is an acquired taste. It’s cutesy and average. It has no real climax and I’ll forget it by the end of this review. ‘Here We Go’ actually puts up a fight for the title of cuter song, but it ties with ‘Good Person’ as equally forgettable. It’s a confusing track, to be completely honest, because from the concept in their cover and the Bonamana MV, I’d figured that Super Junior wanted to achieve a much higher sex appeal and maturity. This isn’t exactly sexy in my opinion.
This entire album lacks sexiness. But whether that’s what they were going for or not, the bottom line is that Bonamana is a disappointing album. With the title track included, this isn’t cohesive or impressive enough to fully gush over Super Junior. They have talent, and they might have won me over with Bonamana as their title track, but after listening to this album in its entirety, I can’t help but be glad that I didn’t pre-order it. It’s average, uninspiring and bland. I’ll give it a generous 2 and a half Sandara Heads out of 5.
But having said all this, I’m still a huge fan of Bonamana and I am looking forward to their live stage this week.