Sistar strikes while the iron is still hot and not long after their “Alone” promotions, they come back with a so-called mini album, specially made for this summer. With the support of a talented crew, they venture out their nearly $200,000 video, fresh out the Hawaii oven. The girls are back in the game with a fresh sound and go back to their cutesy clothes and facial expressions for Loving U.

So, what did the girls let out this time?

They finally got it right. The voices, even Dasom’s, perfectly fit the track. The melodic line is simple and cheerful, with bright and colorful undertones. It doesn’t require belting out and it allows the members’ varying vocal quality to come as one. The infectious “Loving U” in the chorus threatens to become this summer’s K-pop anthem. The progression of verses – pre-chorus – chorus – rap – pre-chorus – chorus – bridge – chorus lets all the members display their qualities (or lack thereof). Bora, I’m sorry, girl, but unfortunately, some people translate your lines and it doesn’t look good. Not that you would be legit if you had better lyrics. Soyou’s bridge adds some drama and Hyorin‘s adlibs finish the song on the right foot. I don’t see the point in Hyorin taking over the song, but if we’re talking about line distribution, I’m grateful Soyou’s getting some action.

The video introduces us to Sistar’s day off in Hawaii, with anything you thought of doing this summer: hitting the road after arriving with your private plane, swimming, roller-skating and then, naturally, dancing on some abandoned cars at sunset. The bright colors and the girls’ smiles are a big plus for the video. There are actual humans there (apparently models and surfers), so mad props for shooting a video outdoors, people included. It seemed realistic, except for the huge bill, and the girls have that womance we’ve been rooting for. The scenes with them and the car, the laughter and the sunset at the beach reeked of chemistry and warmth. The energy is contagious and hits you right from the screen.

The lyrics are as effervescent as the video. I am grateful that they didn’t go full-time with the aegyo; they aimed indeed at “cute,” but not the whiny kiddo type. The confidence they have is boasting. The shy confessions and air-headed attitude are a better description for a summer love, full of goofiness and awkwardness:

When I see your face, I imagine things by myself
I can’t keep a straight face

But the video doesn’t go without some bizarre parts. While other groups in the vein of After School do sexy with an attempt of refinement and elegance, or groups like Girl’s Day who resort to fulfilling Nabokov’s fantasies, Sistar thinks that ‘subtlety’ is a fancy word for the jealous snubs who just ain’t knowing what them boys like. They are the homegirls with curves getting in your face and who have the right recipe for the milkshake that brings all boys in the yard. Who needs a genie when they can have a Jenny from the block? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. “Loving U” had me applauding for the genuine and unaffected sexual charisma they pulled off like no other. Then, I got to the nearly car-washing part and I was left with a ‘WTF?’ in my mind. These moments are probably the ones that make me hear (as)S – I – (as)S when they’re spelling their name.

Otherwise, while I’m no sucker for aegyo, watching Sistar combine cuteness and sexy for their song was entertaining. The mix of sweet and spicy works so much better than more that for mature songs. They are fun and bubbly and have so much spunk that it’s a pity to waste it on songs like “Alone” — which was good, but felt artificial. If they decide to stray away more from the recurring concepts of sexy/cute and come with a proper formula, as I think many of the semi-official Sistar’s releases did, they would be properly invited on my favorites’ list.

Loving U is a synonym for desperation though. Sistar are not rookies anymore. Yes, they do get attention, but not enough to achieve the first-tier group status. The mini-album has only two new tracks and a bunch of less-than-stellar remixes. The other new track, “Holiday,” is completely underwhelming. If you fast-forward over the rapping, it is catchy in the beginning and you are left with the impression that you’re listening to another catchy song for the summer. Right?

Wrong!

After Dasom’s first verse, their voices are off. The melodic line has a life of its own (a dull one, for that matter) and Sistar is not included. Hyorin’s high notes in the chorus are entirely out of place. The rhythm is too fast and they get lost while trying to keep up. The girls go from being too relaxed to sounding too tired. And the lyrics are nonsensical at best, with the rapping at a new low:

Pop it like it work it drop it pop it like it(…)
My lipstick is a bit thick, strangely mystic
Sexy and fancy to the point where no one recognizes me(..)
It’s double kick & SISTAR we party rock

Besides the repetitiveness, this party song is confusing. They prepare to dance more than they actually dance. And there’s a side of drama, a hint at a mystic sadder part of the track and the girls’ jibber-jabber fails to show us what exactly was that.

The remixes are nothing extraordinary and except for “Ma Boy,” they are boring at best. I hate it when idols decide to promote, but not really promote. Having two new songs out of seven tracks is dissatisfying — and I’m being too kind. Overall, the mini-album is actually a single to bring “Loving U” in the spotlight. None of the backup material had much time spent on it. Their live stages look promising as of now and the girls receive positive reactions from the public, so it isn’t at all a bad idea to promote the song. But as a whole, the mini-album gets from me a rating of 2.4/5. What do you think? What’s your rating?

(STARSHIP Entertainment, Nate)