EvoL made their long-awaited debut with a mini-album and a music video meant both to showcase their talent. The group is currently under Cho PD’s management and announced with various teasers their hip-hop influence. Stardom Entertainment outdid itself this time, bringing good vocalists and rappers into a group. Jucy has previously worked in the music industry and she’s not bad at all. Siding with her is the leader Say, who plays the songwriter, choreographer, composer and vocalist of the group. J-Da is the second rapper and a cello and piano player, Yull was described as a ‘rhythmical member’ and a singer gifted with a unique voice, while Hayana is a singer and the visual member.

According to their agency, the girls gave a hand in songwriting and choreography, giving the album a personal touch. The mini takes off with “Let Me Explode,” where Say and Jucy helped Xepy with the lyrics while the latter took care also of the composition and production. The lead track suffers from abundant English lines which don’t always make sense. The parts in Korean, however, speak of the girls’ confidence. They keep a stinging eye to anyone who wants to bring them down, claiming money and status can’t change them. They value authenticity and take a stab at people calling themselves innovative, when only their package is different.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZLmCGPWoo4&w=420&h=315]

Musically, the song is a mash-up of different styles, from dance to hip-hop and pop. If we were to take two consecutive parts of the track and listen to them separately, it would look as if they were heading somewhere. But everything put together is a rollercoaster ride which leaves you confused, with sirens wailing in your ear. Had it been shorter, it could have served as an intro, but the full-length track is too repetitive to be fun. Initially it’s catchy with an enticing beginning, carefully building up around Jucy’s rap. The girls though fail to seize the moment and go instead for some disturbingly noisy follow-up.

The special part about “Let Me Explode” is its fierceness. It balances Jucy’s rapping with Hayana’s softer singing, keeping at the same time its aggressive tone. Talent-wise, the others get to show their voices, which are equally satisfying. The track is powerful and though I may not be crazy about the melodic line, their strong attitude and the boldness of their music are enough to assure the girls an entertaining breakthrough.

Next on the album is “I’m Sorry,” a ballad about how burdening and exhausting jealousy can get to the one who’s feeling it. In comparison to the first track, it’s like they suddenly slammed on their brakes. Hayana doesn’t seem to have a wide vocal range, but the gentle, soft quality of her voice and good vocal control carry the song through its main verses. Jucy is the salt and pepper of EvoL and her rapping shapes the sorrowful and dark mood of the song. The dramatic and melodic chorus, together with the occasional breath loss in the rapping and the string instruments add depth to the feelings expressed in the song.

It’s not to be said the lyrics don’t go without the awkward English, with EvoL saying they are ‘Just like a peanut,’ a symbolism beyond my understanding. Another flaw is Yull’s absence from the track, a misstep for a debut album. Overall though, the ballad is beautifully delivered and it’s definitely not a filler, with an original twist in the message and a nice harmonization between the girls.

“Magnet” brings back the tough attitude, with drum beats setting the rhythm and a fresh, sharp-edged sound to further confirm EvoL’s image. Jucy and J-da’s verses introduce the self-boasting theme of the song, expressing their confidence in winning others over through their appealing music and charisma, as well as attractiveness. The short pre-chorus eases the transition from the slightly hostile rap to Say’s and Yull’s sweeter, more melodic chorus. The championship/winning references in the song, such as the wrestling bell sound effect or the chants, amplify the warrior-esque mood the song exhales. Hayana’s bridge wasn’t absolutely necessary; it provides a change of pace and a more relaxing moment. The song is the highlight of the album, where all the goodies lie: in terms of image and musical style, it summarizes everything EvoL has to say by now.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_V8cDKZrWw&w=420&h=315]

By the time we get through half of the album, a pattern in line distribution emerges: Jucy is the attention-grabbing rapper, taking the most complicated verses. J-Da lacks the natural flow of her fellow-member and sticks to the simpler bits. Yull and Say have distinguishable, powerful voices, so their lines are meticulously dosed. Hayana prefers usually the longer parts when it comes to singing since she possesses a stable, more soothing voice.

We’re a Bit Different” sticks to this model as well. The track combines pop, dance and electro sounds into a party song. It plays on the strengths of “Let Me Explode” and “Magnet,” with the craziness and aggressiveness toned down a bit. Overall, it’s more harmonious than the two tracks. The attempt to lighten things up a bit resulted in an ostentatious, addictive track, but also more generic. J-Da’s rapping here hits its low and the lyrics, while typical for a dance track, could have been more powerful. The song isn’t bad and it has the harsh and daring attitude that defined EvoL’s previous tracks; it is though somewhere in the middle — not extraordinary, but not average either.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gOIK130PGk&w=420&h=315]

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5” was a good choice to conclude the album. The R’n’B ballad relies on a piano line and brings up what this album failed to show: Say hits some high notes, Yull goes full mode in the chorus and J-Da makes a shy attempt at singing on her own. The two ballads of the album reveal a more sensible side, as interesting as their rougher charms. Captivating, with sexual tension, anxiety and unexpected warmth leading the way, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5” is a pleasant and well-rounded ballad.

The mini-album is surprisingly good for a recently-debuted group. From a musical standpoint, the dance sound assures the cohesiveness of the songs and Jucy’s rapping glues the tracks together. The lyrics present a multifaceted group, displaying a variety of emotions. Image-wise, EvoL establish themselves as a hip-hop/pop group with a straightforward attitude and a fierce mode of expression. With the role they had in crafting their album, the girls appear at a first glance as opinionated and outspoken, with a confidence few can shatter. Most of all, “Let Me Explode” is a complete album. Indeed, it has its flows: the title track struggles to find a direction and “We’re a Bit Different” doesn’t stand out as much as the others. But all the songs come together as collective efforts from the same group. I can’t name any filler; the mini is a satisfying and coherent piece of work on its own. EvoL will probably refine their image in the future and work on their sound; they’re already halfway there with “Let Me Explode” and for this, my final rating is of 3.3/5.

So what’s your opinion on the group? Have you given the album a listen?

(Loen Entertainment, EvoL’s Twitter, Naver [1],[2], eisya99cute)