[Review] [Album] Rainbow – ‘Rainbow Syndrome’

2013_rainbow_rainbow syndrome

written by: McRoth

There’s something about the Rainbow I used to know that didn’t quite make it over to their 2013 album, ‘Rainbow Syndrome‘. As their first full length album drops this month – which, as on trend as the rest, has been split into two parts – one would have expected a resurgence of old styles and a splash of something new, but as you’ll hear, that doesn’t exactly happen. Having given ‘Rainbow Syndrome’ more than a few spins already, I’m still unsure on whether I like this new direction they’re taking or not.

There is something to say about what Rainbow has done here, though, and that is churn out an album that is not only cohesive, but well tailored to their vocal tonalities and strengths.

Rainbow, although totally fierce and sensual in singles before, do have soft and silky voices by default that could easily work for girly-er moments, and I think that’s what their company wanted to veer toward on this album.

Golden Touch” is a brassy opening up-tempo that takes these soft voices and layers them on top a simple disco arrangement that, thanks to design, is flattering from beginning to end. The ambiance is bright but every measure here and there, Rainbow pull out a bit of spunk for added glow, and it works beautifully. It also sets the tone for the rest of the album, which is frilly, predictably cute, and retro for days.

Cosmic Girl“, arguably the best song off this part of the album, takes the disco influences to the next level, rivaling better known disco hits of recent memory (T-ara‘s “Roly Poly” should be the first to come to mind) by laying down the law with addictive hooks, engaging melodies, and a roaring, flamboyant orchestrated instrumental; the absolute best I’ve heard for a K-Pop disco song of this caliber to date. It’s a bombastic track, and a really well arranged one at that, but if there is anything to find fault in it’s the lack of presence Rainbow actually presents here.

It’s an alarming issue I found as ‘Rainbow Syndrome’ took flight, and I’m not surprised by it. Rainbow have more or less been known for their sassy and elegant music, but in the grand scope of things, the group hasn’t particularly hinged on a defining persona or musical identity that we can tab them to. Even the biggest of pop acts have a certain touch to their music, but as this album progressed from one song to the next, it became increasingly clear that they weren’t so much selling a Rainbow sound, but rather decorating really nicely produced pop songs.

두 눈을 감고” and “나만 아는 너는 절대 모를 이야기“, and specifically lead single “Tell Me Tell Me“, while decent pop songs that flow well within the context of the album, could easily be performed by countless other girl groups. There’s nothing too majorly unique about them that could be tied to Rainbow, and I think that’s the best place for them to start building their trademark before others beat them to it (the pessimist in me wants to say that that’s already happened).

Whether it be with these cutesy songs or the sassier numbers they’ve served in the past or a combination of the two, Rainbow need to find the right connection to their music and with the audience for this to work well. Although the production value is all there, at this moment that’s a bigger thanks to the engineering team than anyone else, who convinced with this different direction on Rainbow.



Golden Touch
두 눈을 감고
Tell Me Tell Me
Points scale
0 – could do without

0.5 – mediocre/filler

0.75 – pretty good/grew on me

1 – liked immediately

Cosmic Girl
나만 아는 너는 절대 모를 이야기
In Love
Total Points

Points to stars conversion: [(3.75/6) x 5] + 0.25*


*there is a 0.25 bonus for every album. The logic is that, if every song were “pretty good”, it’s a 4-star album.

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