Brown Eyed Girls - Sixth Sense Album Review

9/27/2011 12:20:00 AM


Artist: Brown Eyed Girls
Album: Sixth Sense (9-23-11)
Language: Korean
Genre: Dance, R&B, Latin, Swing, Jazz

1. Swing It Shorty (intro)                                  
2. Sixth Sense [title track & promo]                 
3. Hot Shot
4. La Boheme
5. An Inconvenient Truth
6. Lovemotion
7. Countdown (interlude) 
8. Vendetta
9. Sixth Sense (instrumental)

It's been 2 years (the Kpop equivalent of forever and a day) since the Brown Eyed Girls graced the screen, stage, and ears with their presence. During this break of sorts, they promised to deliver an album to top their 'break out' album Sound G which give them the recognition they deserved after years of being over shadowed by artists in the Big 3 mainstream crowd. While I'd argue that the way they earned their success was less than ideal (they had to surrender their beautiful voices to autotune and their classiness to hip thrusting and strip teasing in Abracadabra's video, earning them an only after 11pm spot on music stations), the fact that these ladies were still known for their voices did not go unnoticed (which was the original goal: their voices and musicality, not their looks or following the trend of cutesy, technicolor vomit). Do these ladies deliver the goods, or do they fall short of expectations?

Note: Under normal circumstances, I would provide videos so that you maybe able to judge the songs on your own terms and be free to agree or disagree with my position. However, as of 9/27 midnight, all videos pertaining to the new songs have been blocked by Leon Ent./leonent. Sorry for the inconvenience.

1. Swing It Shorty (intro)

Right off the bat, you can listen to this 95% intrumental  - 5% vocalizing and tell that they're aiming for a distinct sound that doesn't get covered a lot in mainstream kpop. It's jazzy. It screams of the Ragtime, Jazz, and Swing era when going out to dance your heels into the ground was not just for fun, but a courting ritual and a musical revolution. It's complex while still being easy for the ears to digest. It doesn't clobber you over the head with synthetics, or techno-electronica. It's fun and makes you want to grab a hoop skirt. BEG have always liked infusing old with the new and it shows with this first track. They are one of the few groups that can do this without sounding contrived or fake, like they're just doing what the company demands of them.

2. Sixth Sense

Video wise: Well, they're still gyrating and molesting the ground (Jea), and Gain is once again in a torture situation that borders on BDSM (From Abracadabra to now, I'm seeing a pattern here), Narsha's being water tortured (Another pattern. Anyonne notice that ever since Sign, somebody's submerged in water?), and Miryo is a general starting a revolution. They're sexy, it's true, and every NARROW MINDED feminist in the world will ony see them as hoes, but liberation (as a woman in the world of music and in visual art) is the point they want to convey. Whether it takes home that point is up to subjective interpretation on part of the individual. We must remember that despite the name, Brown Eyed Girls are not underage like the majority of sexualized girl groups. As grown women over the age of 21 (all but Gain pushing 30, Jea being 30), they were never teenie boppers masquerading as innocent little angels in booty shorts. They were women when they debuted and they are women now. Let's not even complain or get into a debate on whether or not they're "too sexy" because the Korean FCC is doing that for us.

The music alone: Is it big? Yes. Is it bombastic? Yes. Does it take everything you know about music past 2008 and bitch slap it across the face? Yes. And it is awesome. Believe it or not... they use real instruments (insert apocolyptic music and a high, girly scream from producers addicted to electronica and synths), they aren't processed up the wazoo, and Jea tells Mariah Carey to sit her butt down and let a soprano who still has her pipes to show her how it's done. These women all have distinct personalities and styles in their voices and it blends well to bring a dynamically complex piece of work. While the track itself hits us over the head with strong strings, and brass instruments in a rhythm that's reminescent of a march, Gain and Narsha keeps us all grounded until Jea turns everything up about 5 notchs in the chorus. The bridge and rap gives us a few moments to breathe before we hit the stratosphere. There is nothing further I can say that hasn't already been said about the glass breaking whistle register vocalizings that are performed by Jea and Gain that hasn't already been gushed over? I must also state that this song shows a mastery of control. In the lives, they could have gone over the top, but no, they managed to sing this song without breaking their mics, killing their voices, or bleeding my ears.

3. Hot Shot

This was released prior as a single, but in the context of the album, it doesn't sound out of place. It definitely continues the salsa groove that Gain started with her 2/4 Step album. The fusion of Latin and Korean is definitely an interesting combination and it does show that Korea is not obsessed with copying America's every move. Other then that, the song can become background noise and it feels repetitive. It's not bad in the least, but without the visuals of the stage, it washes over me and I easily zone out, reliving my Spanish classes where I learned the native dances of the merengue, bachata, and salsa.

4. La Boheme

This gives us something to chill to. It feels like a throw back to the 90's or the 80's. Gain's sweet voice, the 'la-la, la-la, la la boheme' in the background, as well as Miryo's whispers add a bit of depth to her enlongated stanzas. It's a song all about freedom. Freedom in love, life, from conformity. It could have easily been something flighty and could have deviated from the theme of the album and gone into 'oppa, saranghae' territory. Thank goodness it doesn't or else the next track would sound very out of place.

5. An Inconvenient Truth

If La Boheme was a throw back in a musical time period, this is a throw back to BEG's debut period. Some of you out there may not remember that long, long time ago (2006) when Brown Eyed Girls were that now extinct type of group called a vocal group (instead of 'idol' group) in which the main focus weren't how pretty the members were or their legs, but the focus was their voices. Here, we get a reminder of what Brown Eyed Girls are: vocalists. This is composed by leader Jea and it allows them all to shine as they ask for release from a now loveless relationship in which neither lover has the courage to leave. Miryo gives a saddening rap that drips of desperation. The song itself is the paradox of not wanting to be alone, but wanting to be away from the stranger that is oneself and the stranger that claims to love another. It's a love that has grown so routine, it's empty and robotic.

6. Lovemotion

I think this is a song to remind international (and national) Kpop fans complaining of 'too sexy' that BEG are grown women and that the concept of sex and sexuality are no longer foreign subjects to these ladies. This song is pure and simple: the art of flirting and seduction as well as owning up to those desires without shame. I will thank them graciously for maintaining their classiness and sophistication, considering how conservative Korea is and how touchy a subject they tread. It will earn them a 19+ sticker, sure, but this album is about pushing some boundaries and editing a few rules that Kpop music stands by. Rules such as: Women must be sex pots, but be demure nuns off screen/stage. They must desire to please their 'oppas' but have no desire for themselves. 2ne1 made Girl Power popular, but BEG are the ones actually making music to reflect it. I can admit, the arrangement is simplistic to borderline sleep inducing. It's so simplistic that it goes nowhere and this is probably the most anti-climatic track out of all 8 (9 if you add Sixth Sense' instrumental).

7. Countdown (Interlude)

This is so epic. Everything from the accapella they start in, to the Motown inspired instrumental. It's mostly English and it's mainly to be filler, but it's a nice filler and lead into Vendetta.

8. Vendetta

This song is like the Jekyll to "An Inconvient Truth's" Hyde. If An Inconvenient Truth is a want to leave a loveless relationship, in this one: there's no love lost. BEG want their men gone. I'll admit that the intrumental brings nothing new to the table as far as innovation goes, but it doesn't necessarily have to. It was meant as a throwback in style and the lyrics alone makes the song a great track.

Vocals: 5/5

These girls going on break made me miss them all the more. Their vocals are as clear, sharp, and on point. I have absolutely no complaints.

Lyrics: 4.5/5

Whether it was due to the translations, or the songwriting in general, the song La Boheme was all over the place. I had to make an educated guess on what the song wanted to convey. They come across sounding like their ages and not trying to be 'cute' or innocent. These ladies are far too old to play into the innocent vixen role that Korean men love.

Cohesiveness: 5/5

There wasn't necessarily any song that made me go 'WTH? Where did this come from?' They didn't stick to one tried and true genre like the rest of Kpop would have done. Instead, they dabbled with Jazz, Swing, Latin, and a bit of R&B, never losing their roots and never sounding like fishes out of water. I like that it's not one big never ending Jazz-Salsa-Motown-Swing party and that they do allow for some down time with An Inconvenient Truth, La Boheme, and Lovemotion.

Best Tracks: Sixth Sense, An Inconvenient Truth

Worth a Listen: La Boheme, Vendetta

Not bad, but you wouldn't miss anything if you skipped: Hot Shot, Lovemotion

Avoid like the plague: None. No track is downright bad or terrible. All of these were produced well and it comes down to personal taste.

Final Verdict: 14.5/15



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