20130902_seoulbeats_kara_gyuri1The primary breadwinners of DSP Media are back after a yearlong hiatus. Taking a break from their Japanese promotions, Kara are back in their homeland with their fourth full length Korean album, Full Bloom. Prior to the album release and title track, they released “Runaway” which featured scenes from their upcoming Korean drama, Secret Love.

Kara debuted in 2007 with “Break It,” a song and MV that are drastically different than their image now. The then four-membered group didn’t hit it big. We then saw Seung-hee leave due to her agreement with her parents that she would maintain her grades while being a member of Kara. She was replaced with Goo Hara and Ji-young, forming the lineup we now know. With their teaser for their comeback quite reminiscent of their debut era, it built excitement from old fans who missed the image of the girls back then.

Aside from that, this is the time of the year that Kara usually has a comeback. This has been the case for “Step” as well as “Pandora.” Their status as a top tier group was started with their hit, “Mister,” which produced a dance craze similar to that of “Bar Bar Bar.” They avoided being put into a box and continued with the advancement of their sound in “Lupin” before heading off to Japan to try their success. Their success in Japan only stabilized their position in the top tier, sharing the spot with more well known groups — SNSD and 2NE1.

In addition to this seeming callback to their debut era, and given how good the reception for “Pandora” was in Korea last year — with the song having stolen a win during Psy‘s 10 week winning streak on Music Bank — there was a lot of excitement for this comeback.

Their lead track is “Damaged Lady” which was teased weeks prior to the official release on September 2nd. Sprinkled throughout the MV are plot shots, solo shots and dance shots, all of which are tied in by one theme — getting back at a cheating ex.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Q7FerAVQbw]

For the dance shots, they wore suits. The attitude they have in their movements is highlighted by the clothes they wore, making it a smart move on the stylist’s part. Especially lovely on them was the set of clothes they wore with the black background and white pillars. It was both feminine and masculine and they seemed most in their element dance-wise there. As for the dance, it seemed quite lacking, though this may be because we have not seen the whole dance in the MV. From what we see, it also seems quite awkward, especially that butt rub move at 2:18.

20130902_seoulbeats_kara2Where the ladies truly shine are during the solo shots. Some were composed of them wearing the same clothes as the group dance shots, and at the same location of their dance shots. What really stood out were the takes of the ladies sitting on their thrones. They looked magnificent and regal and they carried the same air of confidence as well. The clothes they wore complemented each member and only added to the impression of each member through the whole finished product.

Taking in the plot of the MV, it really did nothing to enhance the overall impact at first watch. I wish they had instead gone for the route they went with “Pandora.” They shined in their solo shots and it’s a pity the impact from that was not carried over to the lacking and boring plot line.

Despite this, the ladies truly carry the song with their portrayal of the girl scorned and their determination to be empowered on their own. Instead of going the childish ‘stalk him’ route that other groups have done, they instead do something straight up. Donned in suits, they show their exes what they are missing all while shoving them, dumping wine on their heads, pushing a pastry in their face and firing away some sort of smoke at them. Unlike some MVs where the girl lets the guy back in the end, Kara further moves away from their ex-significant other. This is further shown in a move in the chorus where the girls seemingly take off a couple ring and throw it in the air, signifying the end of a relationship. They do not want him back in any way because they don’t need him in the first place.

20130902_seoulbeats_kara_nicoleAs for the song, it lacked the climax we get from “Pandora” and the catchiness from their previous singles such as “Lupin” and “Mister.” Surprisingly, Goo Hara has more lines than usual, so it will be something to see if she can carry those lines on stage. In addition, the song was less cluttered and this may be an indication of Kara further improving their sound to move away from the common songs that rely on catchy hooks and revert back to their sound from 2007.

In many ways, this song is a sign of a maturing Kara. From the flow between the segments of the song, the guitar riffs and the underlying beat, it is a far cry from Kara songs of the past. It played more to their strengths and highlighted them.

As with most Kara MVs, they are fashionably dressed, all while maintaining the theme of the MV and song. The girly dresses they wore on their date was reminiscent of the style of dress they wore during “Honey” and “Pretty Girl.” The transition to these suits may come to mean that this is Kara shedding their old, safe image. While they seemingly will maintain their girl next door charm, they are maturing. Despite any complaints with the song, it is an evolution of their sound and for all intent, it is the group heading in the right direction.

20130902_seoulbeats_kara_goo haraSomething that Kara really needs to be commended for is the energy they bring to this MV. It would have been stale if not for the attitude of the members. They certainly carried the MV and brought it to life.

For a comeback after a year, this Kara release was rather flat. Nonetheless, there were still elements that worked — their solo shots are a particular shiner in the MV. For those who expected Kara to come back in a style similar to their debut song, “Break It” due to the teaser pics, it is not. The MV gets 3.25/5.

(DSP Media, YouTube [1])