It’s been around 2 years since Sistar debuted with “Push Push,” and right from the start they aimed towards the sexy route. The only remotely “cute” thing that they’ve promoted was “Shady Girl,” but it wasn’t anywhere near aegyo cute. After “Shady Girl,” they went back to sexy with “How Dare You” and “So Cool.” There were complaints that their songs and concept seem somewhat cheap sexy, and at least for “How Dare You,” Sistar did seem cheap.

Eight months after their previous promotions with “So Cool,” Sistar is back with a mini album entitled Alone. It features an intro, five songs, and an instrumental. Let’s see if Sistar’s Alone is worth getting or better left alone.

Track 1: “Come Closer — This song is the introduction to the album. Unfortunately, it doesn’t entice me to want to hear the album nor does it make me interested in what is in store for the listener, which is the point of having intros. The beats were okay — just okay — but it leaves me the impression that the members themselves were not really enjoying this track, which is a buzz-kill. Fortunately, the songs do get better.

Track 2: “Alone” — This track is significantly different from other Sistar title tracks in that “Alone” takes it down a notch. The typical Sistar sound is more fast-paced with an I-don’t-need-you kind of vibe, but “Alone” reveals more of the vulnerable side that they have not really shown before. The song has a sad disco theme, a take on the genre that hasn’t been utilized much in K-pop up until now. Most disco theme songs that are out there have a more upbeat tempo like T-ara’s “Roly Poly,” but Sistar went for a different approach to the sometimes overused disco theme. A lot of people give Brave Brothers crap for sounding the same song after song, but at least for this time around Brave Brothers did good. The song is sexy without being trashy, and gives the audience the sense of feeling alone.

Each of the members’ deliveries are a little different, but what particularly stands out is that Hyorin is not all over the place in vocals this time around. There is no doubt that Hyorin is a great singer, but she should get the chance to rest her voice or at least not go all out, all of the time. In most of Sistar’s title tracks, Hyorin is belting left and right, but “Alone” has her singing in a way that matches to the feel of the song. Her performance in the second verse is strong without her needing to belt out. Soyu is a consistently good singer, and her lines in the line solidify that statement. That being said, Soyu needs to step out of her comfort zone more because consistent can get boring. Dasom who is the weakest out of the vocalists did improve here even if it is a little bit, and I hope that she will continue to improve. Out of everyone, Bora was the weakest in delivery and her rap did not match the tone of the song. She raps the same way she would rap for any other of Sistar’s title tracks, and this tampers with the mood of the song.

Another thing that is worth mentioning is that this is not exactly a hook song. Initially I was disappointed in the song because while it was not like their usual songs that they churn out, at the time it seemed like a knockoff of Miss A’s “Touch.” Fortunately, after a couple of listens “Alone” does grow on you and separates itself from “Touch” in that there is change in dynamics that “Touch” does not do as well.

Track 3: “No Mercy — This track is more of the typical “Sistar” style in that this is another I-don’t-need-you kind of song. It is not a bad song by any means, but it does not offer up to the plate anything really special that “So Cool” or “Push Push” did not already give us. The only big difference “No Mercy” has is that it has a retro funky sound that carried over from “Alone,” but it’s not enough to say that this song stands out from generic.

Track 4: “Lead Me” —  Oh my goodness  %$^t%, “Lead Me” is just that awesome. Lead Me has a “Ma Boy” sound that Sistar should really venture into more because out of the current girl groups, not many successfully go into the R&B/Pop route, and Sistar does it just right. The beat is sensual yet laid back, which somewhat goes against the K-pop trend of being chaotic and in-your-face, and that makes this song stand out even more. I can’t help but to fanboy really hard to this song, and if “Alone” was not the title song, then this song would be the next best candidate for a title track.

Dasom gets the least amount of lines, but they were executed on par for what she got. On the flip side, Soyu shines here especially in the first verse because her voice (slightly delicate, and not exactly fierce) suits these types of songs more, and it is pretty when given the right material. At times Soyu’s voice tends to be overshadowed within Sistar, but she holds her own here. Hyorin is awesome as always. Bora’s rap is not as out of place as it was in “Alone,” but once again it seems a bit one-dimensional.

Track 5: “Girls on Top — This track sounds nothing like BoA’s “Girls on Top,” and like “No Mercy” it doesn’t offer anything different or special. Although “Girls on Top” is more enjoyable than “No Mercy” since it Hyorin in the chorus adds an extra “oomph” to the song, it is otherwise mediocre.

Track 6: “I Choose to Love You — This is the first ballad song that I listened to from this group, but unfortunately (or fortunately) it is a solo song from Hyorin. The piano and the background music accompanies the sweet mood and Hyorin does a good job matching the tone of the song. Like in “Alone,” this song shows that Hyorin can sing apart from just belting.

Out of the members Hyorin always seems to shine and carry the group, which does not help the Hyorin-and-the-backup-dancers stereotype. Soyu and Dasom — the members that majority of the people are clueless about — need to continue to stand out more, but in this album they are trying and they do have their moments.  As for Bora, I’m just disappointed by the lack of depth in her rapping. She’s hot, but her raps are merely lukewarm.

Overall Sistar’s slower paced songs shined above the fast paced songs, and there is an apparent difference between the generic and the better songs. The mini album is an improvement for greater things to come and perhaps for future releases if Sistar can continue this trend. Instead of rating out of 5, I’m going to review by letter grade, which brings Sistar to a B+ because the overall album is genuinely good, but there are filler tracks that aren’t needed.

Recommended Tracks: “Alone,” “Lead Me,” and “I Choose to Love You”

(StarshipTV, CapsuleHD19 )