written by: drowningn00b
Artist/Album: Ga-in and Cho Hyungwoo – ‘Romantic Spring’
Release Date: April 08, 2013
K-Pop releases follow the seasons: winter is moody, the summer’s hopping, and the fall is tranquil. For spring, the music gets brighter, the voices are smaller and the overall mood has a lightness to it. Indie bands like Standing Egg and 10cm do well here, because their addition of romance and humor, respectively, add a unique touch to the “new love” message spring releases migrate towards.
In quick succession, Brown Eyed Girls‘ Ga-In goes back to the studio, this time collaborating with “Star Audition: The Great Rebirth” contestant (read: not the winner) Cho Hyungwoo from 2010. Six months after the spectacular ‘Talk About S‘, is ‘Romantic Spring‘ another step forward in Ga-In’s solo catalog, or another filler for the season?
Together, Ga-In and Hyungwoo (or HW, as the cover states) sound good. Sticking to her higher register, this allows HW to stay in the comfortable, though not vocally challenging, position of background vocals when harmonizing. What occurs then is Ga-In stealing the spotlight from the newbie singer, especially on “Sway“, a samba number with too much going on. Granted, he isn’t the best singer; on his solo track featuring the pixie singer, “Let Me In“, HW is a one-note vocalist, with little character to deliver the song on his own.
As a collection, “Romantic Spring” is a safe, by-the-numbers seasonal release. For the lead single, “Brunch“, the instruments and singing are good, nice even, but its not unique in any way. Ga-In and HW play lovers in the honeymoon stage, and the instruments highlight the mood, but it doesn’t feel authentic. Standing Egg does this sound better because they make it fresh every time, where as the formulaic approach of “Brunch” doesn’t strive for more beyond pleasing. For its part, JeA‘s composed track “2 O’clock Date” fares better, enjoying a fuller sound. The track has a gentle swaying, where you can imagine the duo dancing in the moonlight of some by-gone MGM musical. It’s the best song on ‘Romantic Spring’, but “2 O’clock Date” can’t lift this dead weight alone.
This is a unique project. A full six months after ‘Talk About S’, Ga-In returns with a duet project with her singing partner HW, who can count this as his debut mini, bit this is where the unique parts end. Where ‘Talk About S’ felt big and took risks, this new mini is nice and safe. The tracks follow tried and true formats of K-Pop spring releases, with emphasis on acoustic guitars and small voices aimed to be pleasing, but never leaving a lasting impression.
It’s a shame, considering Ga-In kept exploring different sounds that bucked trends. In contrast, ‘Romantic Spring’, as nice as it sounds, is a step backwards for the pixie singer.
|2 O’clock Date||
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
|Let Me In||
Points to stars conversion: [(2.25/4) 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.