BLACKPINK is in your area once again. With the release of their much anticipated studio album last week, Hello Asia! writer K-Ci Williams shares his thoughts on what is being touted as the biggest female group release of this year.
This is a journey of sonic similarity. It’s a payoff that is long overdue to fans that have stuck with the girls; those familiar with the heavy, synthesised sandbox the band plays in. THE ALBUM is not anything new, nor does it offer any contention with their earlier discography – I ride for ‘I Don’t Know What To Do’ – but what it does do, it does incredibly well.
Cardi B’s out-of-character sweetness in ‘Bet You Wanna’ is a departure from the persona she’s known for, and for all the times I have repeated ‘WAP‘ on my Spotify queue, it’s a welcome change of pace. What makes this track a success is that you could remove Cardi B, her signature timbre, and the song still slaps. It’s the best song on the album.
I found myself yearning for another glimpse of their balladeer side, and the closest thing I got was ‘You Never Know’. BLACKPINK’s best vocal colours fly when they’re not belting lyrical onomatopoeia, but in songs like this. Stripped back, calm and passionate, singing emotionally resonant lyrics; the only song featured that made me feel something.
‘How You Like That’ has been high on my repeat list since its release. It’s an electric, rousing piece of pop, and an instant hit that I hope won’t be long forgotten. Selena Gomez swaps Waverly Place for the pastels of a grown-up Candyland game in ‘Ice Cream’, a highlight of the album. It’s full of innuendos and simple yet clever lyrics: In the jeans like Billie / You be poppin’ like a wheelie.
The rest of the album: ‘Lovesick Girls’ (well deserving of title track placement), ‘Pretty Savage’, ‘Crazy Over You’, ‘Love To Hate Me’, are standard fare for the group, and all well worth a listen. Each one features an earworm of sorts; something that sticks from the instrumentation, or a repeated sound (big fan of the la-la-la at the beginning of ‘Love To Hate Me’), and punchy vocals from the entire roster.
Bar any collaboration work, this album comes after an 18-month hiatus, and as such I had hoped for a more meaty release. Had the band kept to their typical release schedule, on average, we might have expected two 4-track EPs by now, which is kind of exactly what we have here.
As such, this doesn’t feel monumental or paradigm shifting. And I wouldn’t go so far as to call BLACKPINK ‘the revolution’ as is so often claimed in their music; simply saying it does not make it so. But BLACKPINK might just be the Revival. The revival of the ‘powerful, globally dominant girl group’, jetting across the world and leaving bombastic, influential music in their wake.
The ice cream is sweet, but leaves something to be desired.
Review Score: 7 out of 10
BLACKPINK: THE ALBUM is out now.