Girl’s Generation is back with its 5th album, “Lion Heart”, presenting an even more mature image than before. They have gone through many concepts through the years, growing with each new release.
The album was released in two parts, one for each title track, “Lion Heart” and “You Think”. Both stand out as title tracks as they are distinctly different from each other. “Lion Heart” has a classic 50’s doo-wop feel while “You Think” is modern and packed with attitude. This is the first and best indication of Girl’s Generation’s versatility as they fit both concepts seamlessly.
The listener is introduced to yet another side of the group with the gorgeous “One Afternoon”. The song completely embodies spring, musically and lyrically. Spring is a time of new growth and filled with the promises of new beginnings. To reflect this, the lyrics follow a girl who wants to start her current relationship all over again to fix its problems.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_sKjKXokFM&w=560&h=315]
Sighs are increasing day by day
Sometimes I think that with no reason
In shattered and scattered time
There is a scene that is I really wanna find
You gave me your hands for the first time
The vocal line and guitar line flit around each other as if they are in a dance. The relationship between these two elements, like that between the boy and girl, are filled with a sense of anticipation for what is to come; they want their new beginning. “One Afternoon” stands out as a delicate, romantic and enchanting addition to this album.
The music and lyrics are woven together to create an intriguing story for the dance track, “Fire Alarm”. It revolves around the idea that a “Fire Alarm” is set off to warn the girls of a ‘dangerous stranger’ that has the ability to start a ‘fire’ in their hearts.
This is reflected in the introduction where acapella harmonies ring out like an alarm. Then the bass hits and the tone of the song lowers, as if the girls are navigating this ‘danger’ carefully; they are wary but also intrigued by this man. As the song progresses into the chorus the backing becomes increasingly more complicated; Electronic sounds work with the bass as to create a unique backing track, reminiscent of a video game soundtrack — I swear they stole some sounds of Super Mario Brothers.
However, this song seems to encompass everything those games do; adventure, anticipation, danger and discovery. “Fire Alarm” is an intriguing ride from start to finish, easily standing out on this album as one of the best tracks — and my personal favorite.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6fkFVH5ZaU&w=560&h=315]
“Talk Talk” expands on the more mature side of Girl’s Generation as they slip seamlessly into the R&B genre. They are both gentle and confident as they sing through this song that admonishes a man for not understanding a woman.
You don’t know women –
everything you say is a formality,
it’s getting old
Even if I don’t say what I want,
you should be able to feel it –
There is a detached feeling to the way they sing, especially when they repeat the word ‘talk’. It seems like they are counting with the rotating hands on a clock; an action which is incredibly boring and will only make those who do it impatient. While the song is simple, soft and slow it easily captivates the listener with its steady build up. Instead of providing instant gratification, it has more lasting affect with the message and tune sticking in the minds of the listener.
“Green Light”, as a bubbly pop song, seems more reflective of Girl’s Generation’s image in Japan, rather than their Korean one. It is the only song on the album that has the ability to extract a negative reaction from the listener. In the first verse, the upbeat backings seem to run away rather than keep the pace with the vocals. However, as the song progresses to the infectious chorus the song slowly grows on you. Using call and response, it persuades the listener to get involved in some way or another. By the end, the song has most likely won the listener over, making them forget its awkward start.
Crystal clear vocals introduce “Bump it” as a smooth ballad. However, in true Girl’s Generation fashion, things are quickly switched up as the song is turned into an lively summer track; finally, “Bump it” lives up to its vibrant but unusual name. The girls easily navigate the ups and downs, keeping it from getting out of control as the song gets more complicated. “Bump it” embodies the strength and versatility the group has shown throughout the entire album, summing it up with one final song.
There is no doubting that Girl’s Generations maturity as a group shines through this album. Tracks like “You Think” and “Lion Heart” are exactly what you would expect from this group, while “Talk Talk” and “One Afternoon” break away from their usual image. There was even a song that was very reminiscent of the group’s debut sound, “Paradise”. While these songs embody the groups Korean image, others seem suited for the Japanese market like “Green Light” and, the not mentioned, “Show Girls”. The combination of all these tracks portrays a fully formed image of Girl’s Generation.
With the wide range of songs on this album, the group has got to show its versatile range of talents. Vocally, they were completely on point; in every song the vocals rung out clearly above the backings. The only negative thing I have to say is probably what most people are thinking. SM! Please stop making Girl’s Generation rap! They clearly have more value as singers rather than rappers. Despite this, it’s hard not to appreciate Girl’s Generation as one of the top K-pop groups; they really have proven that they belong there with this album. Don’t you agree?
(Images via SM Entertainment)