Debuting under Star Empire Entertainment in 2010, one would think that Nine Muses would have already released a full-length album like those who have debuted the same year. However, well known the trials the group has had to overcome – from low recognition from the public, a debut song that lacked a spark to grab anyone’s attention to various member changes – it’s understandable why one would think that Nine Muses would be just another girl group that would come and go.
But come and go they did not and after finding relative success with “Ticket,” their waiting finally paid off as “Dolls” and “Wild” raised the recognition of the girls and became their highest ranking songs just as their member line up finally found some stability.
It is probably these reasons why their company has finally released the first full-length album of the ladies with “Gun” as their title track. With eleven tracks that include an intro track and the girls more popular than ever, the condition was right. So have Nine Muses stuck to the continuing increase of quality in terms of songs?
The album starts with “Prima Donna.” As an intro song, it is good at setting the mood and theme for the whole album and the transition between “Prima Donna” and “Gun” is smooth — almost as if its one song. With this release and this far into the album, it’s easy to see that retro-inspired songs really seem to be the niche of Nine Muses and its nice that they continue this with their latest title track. Each component of “Gun” is all right on its own. The parts are evenly distributed to what each member can carry vocal-wise. Hyuna, Sera, and Kyungri seem to take the helm of the vocals though the others bring justice to their parts as well. The musical score is sassy and sexy with a hint of sweetness – everything Nine Muses is and this is even seen in the lyrics.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8qpTcR6XC8]
Following the title track, “Rumor” follows the theme of the previous song and at the first minute, prior to the addition of the brass instruments and guitar at the chorus, is sultry and flirty. It’s almost follow up song material — it’s easy to imagine the members taking this song and performing it on stage later on in this promotion cycle. With a track like this, one would expect a lighthearted theme in the lyrics or the run-of-the-mill song portraying the rumor of their man with someone else. But rather, it is completely unexpected that it directly addresses the nature of rumors spreading and the impact it has on a person. It almost calls to mind the nature of K-netizens and its impact to a person’s career.
Just when one expects a continuation of the musical score heavily influences by their “classical” retro theme from the first three tracks, the ladies shake things up with “A Few Good Man” that starts with some guitar that is heavily present in the remainder of the song. It doesn’t sound off and is likely placed to insure the album doesn’t become stale. While it is of a different musical score than the last couple of songs, it still retains this sound one should come to expect of Nine Muses while being completely different. It keeps the progress of the album – sound-wise and energy-wise.
“Last Scene” is a mid-tempo song — it isn’t slow enough to be a full on run-of-the-mill K-pop ballad but certainly retains that feel. It is a song about a girl replaying the last scene of her relationship – that is, the scene where the man breaks up with her. The brief break between the first chorus and second verse only adds to the overall atmosphere the song gives.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mhv69YA9kM4]
The next track, “Just a Girl,” is carried largely by a melody of an acoustic guitar. It deceives the listener of the nature of the lyrics that talk of a girl depressed because of her feelings for a man. Despite this deceiving nature, it is definitely a must-listen for those who wish to listen to Nine Muses in a more stripped-down nature without all the blows and whistles of their big production title tracks. Even the addition of their raps does not ruin the flow of the song.
After two mid-tempo songs, the album then progresses to “Miss Agent” which is another song that is filled with energy from the first bar. Oftentimes, the transition between a song such as “Just a Girl” and “Miss Agent” may be jarring but in this case, it doesn’t really have that effect due to the beginning of the song which eases us into the song proper.
After a good couple of songs talking about waiting for a boy or having a nervous confession to a man, with “Time’s Up,” Nine Muses declares that time is up for the man and that they are ready to move on.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0FXWH9D_AA]
With a title such as “OMG (Molla, Molla)” and the first line being a series of “Oh my gosh,” the fear of a listener is understood that after eight strong tracks, Nine Muses would then turn to a cutesy track. Well, this song is surprisingly not. It is light-hearted and calls on more of the sweetness of the ladies rather than their sassiness and sexiness. This song shows that the girls can also carry a light melody. Notable is that while it is different from the rest of the album in terms of musical score, it still sounds like something Nine Muses could possibly sing as the encore once they have their own concert.
No, “Ping” is not a song about the character in Mulan. Jokes aside, this song is not as memorable as the previous track but there is nothing negative to say about the song. It checks the boxes off for a song to be included on an album and would have been a fantastic close to an album. This is because the last song “Don’t Come/ Whatever,” is the most filler sounding in this otherwise strong album.
As a whole, this album is definitely worth a listen. There is little to nothing negative to say about the first album of Nine Muses. It showcases the maturity the girls have and each track has its own strength that cannot be overlooked. That the cutesiest song in the album (“OMG (Molla, Molla)”) also has a hint of that Nine Muses sassiness is definitely something their producers should be given a raise for.
Additionally, this album is something the girls can be proud of. After a debut such as “No Playboy,” it’s understandable that the girls would have given up after the difficulties they have faced. Prima Donna is definitely a fitting way to end the year for the ladies of Nine Muses – a year that saw them finally getting the popularity they have long wished for. It seems to me that this effort – and the ladies themselves – is prime examples of groups that were believed to be failures at debut yet have held on and worked hard to finally have what they have today.
Not only is the production strong with this album, but also the concept. It is fitting for the ladies – the eldest being Hyuna at the age of 26 and the youngest, Minha, at the age of 22. There is the right mixtures of sexiness and sweetness and added with a hint of sassiness throughout that makes this effort uniquely Nine Muses. There is a variation of songs to choose from without making the album a mess. For those who wish for a song similar to their title track, “Rumor” and “Miss Agent” are definitely songs up their alley. For those who wish to hear the ladies with a more stripped down nature, “OMG (Molla, Molla)” and “Just a Girl” are songs that they must listen to.
A strong first full-length album from a group that used to be looked over as failures, Nine Muses’ Prima Donna gains a 4.5 out of 5 and should be overlooked no more.
(Star Empire Entertainment, YouTube)