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Album review: BoA - The face

Album review: BoA - The face | Random J Pop

BoA released an album in 2006, another in 2007 and 2 months into 2008 BoA was back on the scene with another. If she were Bajan, had a large forehead and black hair, she'd be Rihanna. But at least Rihanna was able to deliver a third album in succession that trumped her last. BoA on the other hand stuck and showing zero growth.

The face kicks off with "Aggressive" and "Sweet impact". Two songs which sound completely out of date. I'm all for throwback sounds, but these tracks just sound too old, whilst trying to play on the synth pop vibe that is hot right now. "Aggressive" sounds like a rejected song from a Eurovision song contest and "Sweet impact" sounds like a bad knock-off of a bonus track from an album Bobby Brown released in the 1980s. It also doesn't help that her harmonies are off key in many a place. BoA did a much better job of this sound on Outgrow with the song "Silent screamerz", which "Sweet impact" sounds like a lesser version of.

After murdering our ear drums with outdated tat, BoA then hits us with (what I'm sure she thought were) hot urban club bangers. "Girl in the mirror" could be a good song, but it tries too hard to be hip and urban. The beat itself is decent, but is spoiled by unnecessary synths and the producer of the song chiming in with his Uh-huh's and Oh's every 5 seconds. Fans of the songs "My name" and "Outgrow ~Ready butterfly~" may like it because it has a similar sound. But the whole overly urban sound feels far too contrived for me to fully latch onto it. The same goes for "Style". Both of these songs try to go for the sound that Rodney 'Darkchild' Jerkins nailed on Janet Jackson's "Feedback", but they don't quite know how to wrangle it.

"Happy birthday" and "Diamond heart" are as cheesy as a Taco bell burrito. "Happy birthday" made me dry heave and every time I hear "Diamond heart" I feel like I should pull out a Dance Dance Revolution dance mat. And the cheese piles on even more with "Beautiful flowers", a song ruined by a God awful chorus. When you hear the verses you'll bop your head and start to work a shoulder, but by the time the chorus rolls around you'll be reaching for the stop button. The whole bluebirds, butterflies and rainbows vibe for the chorus - it's too much. This song would work perfectly if it were a theme to an anime, a J-drama or a video game - but without such contexts, it doesn't work for me.

Whilst the uptempo's are hit and miss (mostly miss), the R&B tinged ballads "Love letter", "Smile again" and "Best friend" are on the target. These songs aren't on the same level as the brilliance that was and still is "Love & honesty", but they are nice songs and showcase BoA's vocals. Crystal Kay fans may like these songs as they have a very CK like sound with their R&B undertones, soft chords and orchestrated strings. BoA sounds great on them and they're good songs. But the Crystal Kay stan in me can't help but think she would've done the songs a greater service and sung BoA under a bus. Because not only does Crystal have greater range than BoA, but her voice is prettier too. On songs like these you really want the artist to be hitting those high soprano, melismatic notes and BoA just isn't capable of that. I give credit where it's due though, BoA does sell these songs well.

Album review: BoA - The face | Random J Pop

Despite the album committing a crime to up-tempo R&B with "Girl in the mirror" and "Style" - the album does get it right on several occasions. "Lose your mind" is a great pop record with its electric guitar riffs and Go-Go inspired percussion and horn sections. The song isn't miles away from BeyoncĂ©'s "Green light" or something Amerie would release. "Brave" is a standout, with its fusion of rock and pop, with a chorus which soars. It sounds different to everything else on the album, but is one of the best songs on the album in part because of it. "Gyappu ni yara re ta!" is straight up pop with its twinkly bells, record scratches and staccato synths. The song is cheesy and cutesy, but not overly so and is a great song. It has a very Janet Jackson-esque sound about it.

The face is not that good an album. The main problem with it is that BoA's sound hasn't been pushed or refined, and neither has BoA. BoA needs to start thinking about evolving her sound because being a young woman in her early twenties she can't keep singing these same old songs. Hikaru Utada was coming better than this was she was 16 years of age on her debut album. BoA has been in the music game for 8 years now. She really does need to switch up her sound for her next studio album. It's not like she doesn't have the potential to do better, which is why it's worse that she doesn't seem to be pushing herself to do so.

Fans hoping for BoA to showcase an evolved and matured sound will be disappointed. But if you generally like anything BoA does and were fans of Outgrow and Made in twenty (20), then you'll like this. Although I personally think that Outgrow was a better album with a much more mature and consistent sound.

RATING: 5 / 10

Album highlights:
■ Lose your mind
■ Love letter
■ Brave ★ J's fave
■ Gyappu ni yara re ta!
■ Smile again
■ Best friend

Comments

Angel said…
Interesting, your review is vastly different from other reviews.

For one thing, the most hated track based on 90% of reviews is Brave. However it's your favorite.

Nice to see a different opinion.
Random J said…
And it's nice to have a comment from you! :D

I think "Brave" is one of BoA's better songs. Possibly one of her best. It marks such a bold step in the right direction where her sound is concerned. The fact she's capable of doing songs like these and doing them so well is what pisses me off when she goes and records stupid bullshit drivel like "Beautiful flowers".