K-POP / REVIEWS

[Review] [Album] Brown Eyed Girls – ‘Black Box’

2013_beg_black box

written by: Drowningn00b
Artist and Album: Brown Eyed Girls – ‘Black Box’
Genre: Dance Pop, Idol
Release Date: July 29, 2013

R&B has returned to K-Pop, and that’s reason to celebrate. This isn’t the same style that propelled Fin.K.L. and The Grace to popularity in the 2000s, however, and that’s a good thing. Led in large part to Primary and his work with MBLAQ and Zion.T, as well as new acts using the style like Ladies’ Code and Lush, K-Pop’s current trend pays homage to that time, giving electro-pop a rest, at least for some.

Rising to critical success with a “woe-is-me” R&B sound in their early work, “Your Story” and “Leave Ms Kim”, Brown Eyed Girls symbolizes that shift in trends; R&B may have grabbed the critics, but electro-pop had the cash flowing in. They tipped their toes back in for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and have gone full in for their latest album, ‘Black Box’. Touching on the dance side of R&B, ‘Black Box’ continues BEG’s consistent approach to LPs, with some notable exceptions.

Going back to the early 80’s, when R&B and disco were linked, Brown Eyed Girls, with Yoon Il Sang once again at the helm, lay on the drums and synth sound, without bashing you over the head. Like the opener, the ironically named “After Club”, with its guitar and drums beats and synth that runs underneath, ‘Black Box’ lacks the bombast “Sixth Sense” had. Tracks like “날아갈래 (I Want To Fly)” and “거짓말이야 (It’s A Lie)” have a nice groove with beats that suggest you might want to dance along to. Not only that, but the record also plays with pacing.

The aforementioned numbers have a quick tempo while the ladies hang back some. This is illustrated perfectly on the Primary-produced “Recipe”, with BEG’s come-hither whispers take their time to get the lyrics out without dragging the song along. McRoth was right to point out how well Miryo’s presence works with the singer, and that’s why “Recipe” works as well as it does. The trio can show off their higher registers to spectacular effect, and Miryo brings her best rapping on a BEG single since “Sixth Sense”. It’s a synergy other K-Pop groups fail to achieve, and “Recipe” has it in spades.

There is also a harder thread to ‘Black Box’, shown in different ways in “Kill Bill”, “Satisfaction” and “Mystery Survivor”. These three rely on dance troupes for impact, from the syncopation in “Kill Bill”, to the rapid-fire beats in the chorus of “Satisfaction” and the trance feel of “Mystery Survivor”. The first two have good intros, starting with cool guitar riffs, but descend into drum-heavy confusion in the chorus. The vocals in both don’t help matters either; the ladies sound rough, clashing with the synths and whistling to see who can out-grit whom. The club ready “Mystery Survivor” leaves that competition behind with polished vocal performances. The drone of the production, with the 808-style drum sounds on top, take on the edge missing from BEG, and while not the best dance track this year, “Mystery Survivor” makes the inclusion of dance elements better than “Kill Bill”. A popular dance track can work, and they’ve done it, time and again, but the former two try too hard to make it gel with the R&B vibe ‘Black Box’ aims for.

==

A new Brown Eyed Girls record is an event. When teasers of new material hit the internet, netizens audibly gasp and hold it until the singles and subsequent record show up. Or am I the only one? For this go around, BEG hit on a good idea with R&B-dance fusion, shown to its full and shimmery effect on “Recipe”, “I Want To Fly” and the sexually suggestive “Boy”. With a couple of duds (OST copy “Good Fellas” included) and clunky dance numbers, ‘Black Box’ as a whole is a polished and cohesive journey into the groove side of R&B.

Brown Eyed Girls may be showing a softer side, but they are no less talented for doing so.

==

Scorecard

After Club
.75
I Want to Fly
1
Kill Bill
.5
Boy
1
Satisfaction
.5
Mystery Survivor
.75
It’s a Lie
.75
Points scale
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
Recipe
1
Good Fellas
.5
Total Points
6.75

Points to stars conversion: [(6.75/9) x 5] + 0.25*

4/5


*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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2 thoughts on “[Review] [Album] Brown Eyed Girls – ‘Black Box’

  1. Aw, “Kill Bill” has actually grown to be my favourite track on the album and one of my favourite songs of the year. I agree with “I Want to Fly” being one of the best tracks though. It’s so carefree and fun.

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