K-INDIE / REVIEWS

[Review] [EP] W&JAS – ‘New Kid in Town’

2013_wnjas_new kid in town

written by: drowningn00b
Artist and Album: W&JAS – ‘New Kid In Town’
Genre: Electronica
Release Date: August 20, 2013

As a group, W&Whale was unique. Tacking on a female lead singer made the music created by the trio palatable to wider audiences. With her dual nasal/smooth delivery, Whale, (or Park Eun Kyung) complimented W’s hard electronic sound. It was a formula that worked, but the “&Whale” made it easy to see her as an add-n, not integral to W as a whole. So it was sad to see her leave the group, but not earth-shattering at the same time. The name invited change, and that much has long been an accepted truth.

To replace her, enter Loveholic’s Jung Eun Ah. An established singer in her own right, Eun Ah, or JAS, has a different vocal quality than her predecessor. With a deeper register and husky tone, the challenge for W was how W&JAS will sound as its own unit. For ‘New Kid in Town’, W softens its sound, while never compromising what made the group great in the first place.

The first time anyone heard the new group was with the OST ballad, “Star Chaser”. With a three second lead-in, the ballad holds nothing back. W does away with the piano-strings template, opting for the piano-rock band sound more their style. The song began the transition from W&Whale, with JAS leading the charge with more sustained singing and deeper vocal melodies. W upped the rock presence, with heavier guitars and louder drums, which continued on the second OST contribution, “Speed Up”. The fastest track here, W increases the energy while allowing JAS the space to float along the lyrics. That combination of W’s trademark electro-pop sound and JAS’ delivery would not show its brilliance until much later.

With a slow keyboard/piano intro, “Green” epitomizes the successful gamble of the new group. Here, JAS forces the trio to calm down and let the music coast along. It’s a beautiful single that shimmers, both in JAS’s gorgeous singing and W’s easy-going electro-pop. The pace quickens for “Feeling Like A Butterfly,” a mid-tempo love-fest with amazing bass work by Kim Sang Hoon. What I love most are the disco flashbacks, from Bae Young Joon’s cool guitar solo to the back-up vocal shouts at the end. It’s a cliché all too common of the girl dulling the hard edges of the guys, but if the result of W&JAS is so beautiful and tingle-inducing, who am I to argue with it?

No sooner than those words leave my hand, the gloomy synths by Han Jae Won begin in the album-ender, “The Best for You”. W turns the tables on JAS, forcing her to bring out a tougher side, something Whale did so well in ‘Break It Down’. And boy does she. Taking her voice to a soft croon, JAS is menacing, and with Sang Hoon’s pounding drums, “The Best for You” is slow acting poison, rather than medicine. I did not expect to hear her shout “so what”, but W&JAS isn’t just butterflies and roses. W&JAS is still the same group as before, but seen through a different shade of electronica.

 

==

I was skeptical of JAS. Whale worked so well as the female counterpoint to W that someone new would ruin it. But with ‘New Kid in Town,’ I’ve been corrected. This EP swims in romantic electro-pop, from the dreamy “Green” to the drum and bass delight of “Feeling like a Butterfly”. Even their OST tracks are strong! Electronic music is all too common in K-Pop, and only in good hands do you hear something of worth. W&JAS turn their trademark electro-pop into something beautiful, full of emotion and enough grit to keep your booty bumping.

Home run, guys and gal.

==

Scorecard

Star Chaser
.75
Green
1
Speed Up
.75
Points scale
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
Feeling Like a Butterfly
1
The Best For You
1
Total Points
4.5

Points to stars conversion: [(4.5/5) x 5] + 0.25*

4.75/5


*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] [EP] W&JAS – ‘New Kid in Town’

    • Searching through Korean websites is an easy gateway to artist names. Daum Music (where I download all the official, high res photos I use in our reviews) has a profile for pretty much every Korean idol, artist, musician you can think of.

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