Album review: Girls' generation - Holiday night

Love 'em or hate 'em, Girls' generation are here with their 6th full length Korean album Holiday night to let us know that they've been here for 10 years, that they still be here doin' the same shit and that we can like it or lump it. A statement that would have rung much truer and better if Holiday night actually gave something aside from 35 minutes of tepid background music, which fizzles out 10 minutes in. Girls' generation's sixth album doesn't come with the boldness or the bang for your won that you'd expect from an anniversary album, much less one from a group who have been around for a decade and have done so much in that time. Holiday night should be a celebration and a forward thinking album that strongly defines Girls' generation and sets a standard. But it feels like such a throwaway and fleeting album.

K-Pop albums often love to run with 'concepts' for promo of a new album, but rarely is this sustained within the music throughout an album. Holiday night is very much about the 80s with its garishly coloured album cover and fashion consisting of all things short and sparkly, with hairstyles featuring so much dye and spray that at least one of these girls will be going bald by sunrise. This concept lasts for all of the first 4 tracks, then it's your standard Girls' generation fare through until the album closes with track 10.

Some good 80s bubblegum pop across the entire album would have really worked wonders for these girls. Wonder girls had done 80s pop with an edge for their fantastic final album Reboot. (One of 2015 best pop albums by far). But a lighter take on the 80s along the lines of Madonna during the 80s (specifically her debut, True blue and the Who's that girl?) would have worked magic on this Holiday night and given the girls a chance to lock into a concept fully which isn't far removed from their brand of pop.

But this is Girls' generation all over. A group who who emerge with a concept, but no follow through. This is especially sad here because there is actually a concept which could have worked had it been followed all the way through. But as usual, the end result is a cluster fuck of odd styling and an album which doesn't even try.

SM entertainment and Girls' generation are on complete auto pilot here. And whilst their popularity may be of a stratospheric level that their peers may not be on, they are still one of the least interesting girl groups out there musically and visually.

At the very least, Holiday night is void of gimmicks or attempts to make Girls' generation 'hip'. There's nothing on this album which is as contrived as "The boys", "I got a boy" or "Mr. Mr.". SM seem to have finally made an admission that they're happy for Girls' generation to just stay in the lane of cute and bubbly with zero experimentation and zero risk. This is great for fans who are fine for this to be the case until the group disbands and or are worked into their graves by Lee Soo-Man. But this may deter those who have been on the fence with these girls since "Gee" and those in the fandom who are yearning for Girls' generation to give a bit more. Although you could argue that anybody who isn't into Girls' generation by now, probably never will be. But there's much to be said about a group who after 10 years have shown no musical growth or depth what-so-ever.

There's nothing wrong with staying within a particular sound. But even within that you can push and stretch things, and there's no signs of that on this album. Holiday night isn't worse than Lion heart, but it isn't better either. It just is. There's nothing to really define this album as being Girls' generation's 6th album or their 10th anniversary release, because musically it could fall anywhere on their 10 year timeline. The only tell tale sign is there being no Jessica.

Holiday night also suffers from being strongly stabled by SM. Many of the songs on this album sound like they could have gone to any of the acts signed to SM - which I know is kinda part of the deal of buying into a particular K-Pop camp. But even so, with a group like Girls' generation who aren't that distinct vocally and don't put the kind of stamp on their songs that some of their peers do, effort should have been taken to make Girls' generation really put their claim on these songs in some way. "Girls are back" could be re-worked into an EXO song. "All night" and "Sweet talk" could be f(x) songs and would probably work better if they were. "One last time" could be a song for one of BoA's Japanese releases. "Holiday" feels very much like your typical Girls' generation song, but even that could go to literally anybody. This is a problem I've had with Girls' generation for a while now. They don't really have a distinct image or sound that's wholly theirs, and this feels more evident on Holiday night than on any of their other albums because it's the 10 year milestone album and yet we're STILL here.

Holiday night is not a bad album. There's not a song on it that I flat out dislike. But as a whole this album is just too safe, too samey and pedestrian. Girls' generation should be getting better songs than what they got given here and SM should be investing time and effort into really defining Girls' generation's sound and pulling it in different directions whilst keeping it in a space where it doesn't feel alienating or forced. SM also shouldn't be afraid to mix things up on songs when it comes to vocals. Let TaeTiSo get a song to themselves, give Hyoyeon a lead on a song, let Taeyeon flat out sing lead and have the others do back-up. Let Sunny shine for a minute. Holiday night confirms to me that SM entertainment have no interest in trying to really push the boundaries of what they could do with this group to keep things fresh for not only the fans, but the girls themselves. After 10 years, 6 albums and several of the members having gone solo or formed a 2 or 3 piece unit - Girls' generation should be delivering better albums than this. It's great to see that Yuri and Seohyun are getting songwriting credits on songs, but after 10 years they damn well should be.

There are girl groups in the K-Pop game who have put out much better LP's and EP's than this within the past year. It seems that after years of SM mimicking other acts in a bid to keep Girls' generation fresh and competitive that they've finally decided to just not bother trying. As good as the promo songs "Holiday" and "All night" are, they're no "Gee" or "Genie". They're not even an "Oh!".

Holiday night is one of Girls' generation's most consistent albums for sure, but it's also the glaring sign that they need to step it up.

RATING: 4 / 10

Album highlights:
■ All night ★ J's fave
■ Only one
■ One last time