Looking good, guys. The color scheme for this album jacket is a little tawdry-looking, but what can you do. (Also, check out Dongho working the GD hair extensions, lol)
Although I chuckled a bit at the title of I’mma New Thang (Intro), which clocks in at just under 30 seconds, I was super pumped by the deep bass and fierce synth sound. There are some vocals thrown in there as well but they’re mostly inconsequential. This noisy, bass-heavy intro is typical U-KISS in the best way possible.
U-KISS are known for their dancey club anthems, but Stop Girl blends that signature U-KISS style with R&B and even a little hip-hop. The result is an immensely catchy, jam-able track. The vocals go off without a hitch from each member and suit the smooth melody perfectly. I was especially taken with the hook (“Stop girl, in the name of love“), which is just simple enough to be infectious.The instrumental track has an awesome groove, too, with more deep bass and synth to tie it into the intro. Dongo and Eli’s rap is also nice and smooth and fits in perfectly with the rest of the song. Eli actually sounds a little rough next to Dongo’s flow, but not so much that it detracts from the verse or the song itself. Honestly, other than that, I don’t have any other criticisms for this song. What can I say? U-KISS have done it again.
Time to Go is more like the U-KISS we’ve come to know. Starting with a simple piano line over some house-y keyboard, the boys come in along with an electronic beat to sing their somewhat melancholy song. There are a lot of unexpected musical elements in this song, like the snare drum that comes in during the rap. Interestingly, the chorus is pretty much the same thing as their other songs, with the title just being repeated a bunch of times, but the verse on this particular track is so ear-catching that I found the chorus boring by comparison. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just a bit strange.
I know the title of this song says it’s ‘acoustic,’ but Believe (Acoustic Version) still manages to have a pretty big sound despite this. In any case, it’s a very pretty song. The vocals are on point and I only started to feel bored toward the very end (it’s not the song, it’s a K-Pop ballad thing lol). It really doesn’t fit in on this mini-album, though, which is a bit of a drawback. I would have saved this version for a different comeback.
Sexy Baby brings us right back into the upbeat dance sound, and it does so very well. By all accounts this is a fairly standard dance track, but the enthusiasm of the boy’s vocal performances, particularly Kevin, really make this a fun listen. The English words in the lyrics also didn’t confuse the meaning of the song at all, which was nice to hear.
I’m normally apprehensive when it comes to English versions of K-Pop songs, but U-KISS are at a huge advantage having three members who speak English fluently – Kevin, Eli and AJ (who managed to record this before he took a hiatus from the group) – which makes Stop Girl (English Version) a lot less awkward than it could have been. Even the members who don’t speak English sound pretty good on this track, which is a relief. The rap verse doesn’t have quite the flow of the Korean version, though, since Dongho can’t rap in English, but they did rearrange it a little to preserve the fluidity of the original, so it’s still good. It’s also just as catchy in English (the hook was in English in the original anyway), so it doesn’t lose anything in translation.
Summary: I used to be so against U-KISS as a group – their look, their music, everything – but now they are absolutely one of my favorite Korean idol groups. With each release they’ve grown musically, and their dedication shines through with the achievement of three key elements: a cohesive musical sound, a consistent ‘look,’ and a distinct vocal style. U-KISS have an identity as a group now, and it is 100% evident on this release. Suffice it to say I’m quite impressed. They’re still a bit underrated among their peers in the K-Pop scene, but they are gaining momentum, and I have faith that they can ascend to the upper echelons of idol groups in K-Pop.
Album Grade: A-
Stop Girl | Sexy Baby | Time to Go | Stop Girl (English Version)