Released: August 4, 2017 (SM Entertainment)
South Korea’s finest export, Girls’ Generation, have surprised the K-pop world with the release of their sixth studio album Holiday Night. And it looks like the girls are going back to the disco and funk rhythms they first adopted on their previous effort, Lion Heart. Damn, even though Lion Heart was released two years ago, it still feels like it was only released yesterday. The girls—Seohyun, Sunny, Taeyeon, Tiffany, Yoona, Hyoyeon, Yuri and Sooyoung—have showcased a variety of talents throughout the years, spanning from singing, songwriting, and performing, so with Holiday Night, it’s nothing but a walk in the park.
But if anything, the most striking element on this collection is it’s sonic consistency, something that isn’t really highlighted over the course of the group’s career. From the glamorous disco-influenced opener “Girls Are Back” to the mellow love song “Light Up the Sky”, Holiday Night experiments with a 60’s and 70’s sound that first touched on Lion Heart, but never went in full-flight. “All Night”—the album’s second single—is probably the most versatile jam here, and I’m LIVING FOR IT! It blends a sophisticated 80’s synthpop with contemporary trap and pop moments, and weirdly, it all works out superbly. “Holiday” and “Fan” do the same thing, but both channel a more radio-friendly sound and bubblegum-esque appeal that could easily take a swipe at several Western charts, and CLAIM it all!
In other areas, Girls’ Generation do what they do best; take inspiration from the West, and mould it into there own. For me, the sassy hip-hop beats and deep electronics of “Sweet Talk” is some of the reasons why it makes it one of the album’s most solid and confident tracks. It’s fun, steamy and extremely catchy. But on the other end of the spectrum (well not really…), we get the classic jazz arrangements on “Love is Bitter” which, in my opinion, is probably one of the most convincing bloody jazz numbers I’ve F-ing heard in AGES! Bravo Ms. Thangs! I always enjoy how Girls’ Generation—or K-pop acts in generation—are able to immolate a style of music and convey something a lil’ different and edgier, especially with their more recent tunes. That way, it keeps the entire discography fresh yet quite inspired.
That said, Holiday Night have a couple ballads, and usually the ballads are either a hit or miss. On the positive side, the album’s strongest mid-tempo anthem is “It’s You”, a track penned by member Yuri. The acoustic guitars over a pulsing pop beat gives it a breezy vibe, and gurls and bros… I LIVE FOR THAT SHIT! Definitely a highlight. Unfortunately, it’s sister track “Only One” is a lil’… bleeehh. It’s nothing special or valuable to the record, especially with it’s more simplistic instrumentation and sound. The same goes to “One Last Time”; a slow-tempo piano track that uncannily samples dated R&B beats and tries to work around it with a pretty decent vocal performance by the girls. Girls’ Generation have belted out some pretty impressive ballads during their years, but unfortunately, their most recent efforts haven’t been particularly noteworthy or interesting, which is a shame because the good ones have easily conveyed their voices strong and smoothly.
Despite the absence of club thrillers and the lousy ballad or two, Holiday Night is a refreshing and cohesive collection of old skool beats with a few contemporary twists. Each girl have improved on their vocals and songwriting (a few stand out), and the overall quality of the production and composition is crisp, clean and definitely catchy. Good one gurls, good one indeed!
Track list (bold means best tracks):
- Girls Are Back
- All Night
- Fan *Liam’s favourite*
- Only One
- One Last Time
- Sweet Talk
- Love Is Bitter
- It’s You
- Light Up the Sky