So here we are in 2018, with another BoA release, which is believe it or not her first ever EP. BoA has come out guns blazing, in the literal sense, with the gun visual heavy lead promotional track "Nega dola" and the album title track "One shot, two shot" and the most national promo that she's done in years. But at the heart of it all is this EP. And when you take it for what it is, it doesn't serve the narrative of BoA's legacy in no way shape or form. But it is a step in a direction that BoA should have taken much earlier on in her career.
I have to hand it to SM. For the most part, they still know how to pick good songs for BoA which are easy on the ear and work. "Nega dola" didn't do much and came off like a piggy back off of a craze that ex-ex-Wonder girl Sunmi kick started with "Gashina". But "One shot, two shot" is an immediate reminder of how BoA shines in her element. The other songs on the album sound so different from one another and offer new facets into not only BoA vocally, but as a character. This feels like the first time that BoA seems to be taking on personas and having fun with them. "My song" see's her playing up the faux hood angle, but not taking it seriously. Even with the language barrier, the sentiment of the song and the vibe that BoA's on comes through as clear as day.
Despite BoA being oft associated with uptempo dance numbers, her past two Korean releases have seen BoA take a liking and find comfort in slower songs. One shot, two shot features 2 mid-tempo numbers, which are in fact the strongest songs here. "Recollection" sounds like the dime a dozen slow numbers that you can find on every Girls' generation album, but it's a nice song. "Always, all ways" is a smooth R&B groove with production helmed by The Stereotypes, who were also responsible for "Kiss my lips" and "Home": two of my favourite songs BoA's Kiss my lips LP. Seductive pussy pop bops have become a forte of BoA's over the past few years as she's approached 30 and she needs to stay on it. Because issa vibe and it works so well for her. Her crusty vocals even manage to sound sexy and add allure.
It's nice to hear that BoA steered away from typical K-ballads here. She's so influenced with Western sounds that it just wouldn't make sense for her to do these types of songs anyway. She's past that point. If only the same applied to her Japanese material. But we won't even go there.
One shot, two shot isn't a bad EP. In fact, it's one of BoA's best releases. But it highlights the issue that I've continually had with BoA since the beginning, which is that she doesn't have a set style. Even within a condensed tracklist you don't come away with a clear idea of BoA's sound or what she's ultimately trying to achieve. As with most SM entertainment releases, the songs work separate from the artist. "One shot, two shot" is a great song. There's no denying that. But it could be given to Girls' generation, Super Junior, f(x) or SHINee, and still work and be no worse nor better off. It's not exclusive to BoA and that's the primary issue with this EP. It's a selection of decent songs, but there's no real mark, claim or stamp that BoA puts on any of them. I also don't feel that these songs will be wholly memorable years from now. The album title track had that potential. But the more I listen to it, the more it sounds like a demo. It's missing layers. The chorus feels lacking in comparison to the verses and there's no sense of progression and build across the song. It ends how it started. A real shame, because with some additional production, "One shot, two shot" could have been THAT song.
The real test of this EP will be what comes after it. One shot, two shit is a nice springboard which could shape BoA's follow-up nicely if she and SM build on what they've crafted here. Another consideration could be to just have BoA drop EP's every now and then, as opposed to LPs. BoA unravels across long players, but she just manages to hold together on extended plays. There is no BoA album that I can honestly say I liked from start to finish. This EP comes the closest, because it caps the shortcomings which become glaring on a full length. Even "Camo", a song I couldn't stand, works on this EP.
One shot, two shot is one of BoA's most consistent offerings. But I can't shake the feeling that BoA should have been giving us this years ago. But credit where it's due, BoA sounds engaged and as though she's enjoying herself again, and it's been a while since I could say that.
■ One shot, two shot
■ Everybody knows
■ Always, all ways ★ J's fave