Charley says ALBUM! T-ara – Breaking Heart

The guy behind Popsessed has been organising an Album Shuffle over on Popjustice! Everyone sends in an album and randomly gets assigned someone else’s to review. For round two I got Breaking Heart by Korean girl group T-ara. My review was just posted and because I loved the album so much I thought I’d put it on here as well.

Put on the album, enjoy and, perhaps, see you for the next round of Album Shuffle on Popjustice!

For ages I’ve been trying to get more into K-Pop, but the number of amazing acts  and albums is so overwhelming that I always end up just putting 2NE1’s “I Am The  Best” on repeat with their “Ugly” and Girls Generation’s “Echo” played in  between every now and again. This Album Shuffle was the perfect occasion for me  to finally have someone say “Now this is where you’ll start”.

I wasn’t  that familiar with T-ara other than their thread in the K-Pop subforum on Popjustice  having their name with a fancy symbol in the title: T♔ARA. To be perfectly  honest, at first I had them confused with Monrose covering girl group f(x)  somehow. Nothing that a quick visit to Wikipedia couldn’t fix though. When  reading up about Breaking Heart it became clear that this was a rerelease  of T-ara’s debut album, originally titled Absolute First Album.

The album  starts off with the two songs that were added for the rerelease and from the get  go it was clear that this would be an awesome ride. If you don’t want to live in  a world where there’s only one of Britney’s Womanizer (or three if you count Crazy Possessive by Kaci Battaglia and Ruff Me Up by Brooke Hogan) then rest  assured, there’s another! Opening track I Go Crazy Because Of You (Neo Ttaemune Michyeo / 너 때문에 미쳐) is essentially Womanizer’s darker counterpart. This  whirlwind of a song with its delicious “Aw! AW! Aw! AW!” chorus is without a  doubt one of my favourites on the album!

The first few seconds of  follow-up I’m Really Hurt (Naega Neomu Apa / 내가 너무 아파) remind me of Metro  Station (that’s a good thing, if you were wondering) and despite being less  memorable than the previous track it still has you singing along to the chorus  despite not being able to understand a word.

Track number three, the  album opener for the original release, makes as much an impact as I Go Crazy Because Of You does. I put a YouTube link at the bottom of this review, but you  simply have to track down a glorious HQ version if you can! One & One  has the best intros I’ve heard in ages. Seriously, it’s awesome. I suck at  recognising instruments so I’m just going to guess they’re synths? What makes  them so amazing is that they have this sharp, steely quality to them that  pierces right through your speakers and sucks you into the song even before it  properly explodes. The song’s bridge is so effective that it has you at the edge  of your seat for what’s next. This is one of those songs that if released by  Girls Aloud would have people fawning over multiple choruses or added hook-parts  and whatnot. Now, I also suck at recognising a song’s structure, but I can  confirm that this one is brilliant however you choose to identify the different  parts of it. When the sharp synths shoot back to the forefront for the final  notes it seems like the only appropriate course of action is REPEAT REPEAT  REPEAT.

Inevitably any track that would follow One & One would seem  like a slight disappointment at first, but given the time the chorus of Like  The First Time (Cheoeum Cheoreom / 처음처럼) sneaks up on you as well. It’s a  song that really uses those typical K-Pop vocals to its advantage.

Bo  Peep Bo Peep was T-ara’s big breakthrough and it’s easy to see why. After  the computerised “Don’t lose your temper so quickly” intro, it bursts straight  into its insanely catchiness. Although beware, if you’re not a fan of repetitive  choruses (something not uncommon throughout this album) this one takes it to  another level. As in other K-Pop tracks English words are scattered among the  lyrics, so being able to shout “MAN TAKE A BOOTY CALL” among the gibberish  you’re singing is an added bonus.

The album continues being great with  the likes of Tic Tic Toc (thumping distorted disco beats) and Bye  Bye (super singalongable). Apple Is A, originally from a commercial  for apples, sees T-ara at their bubblegum poppiest, while Falling U is  the obligatory girl group ballad.

Unfortunately the album falls a bit  flat after that. The songs aren’t awful, but from what I understand tracks 11 to  16 are songs from before T-ara made it big with Bo Peep Bo Peep and you can kind  of tell. Most of them sound pretty dated in a mid 00’s kind of way. Others just  don’t really fit with the rest of the album, like Good Person (Joheun  Saram / 좋은 사람) which they recorded for a soundtrack and actually reminds me of  Dana Glover’s It Is You (I Have Loved) from the Shrek OST. Fortunately Breaking  Heart ends on a high with Wanna Play? (Norabollae? / 놀아볼래?) which has a  cool “Eyo, what time is it? It’s time for T…AR…A” spoken bit at the start.  It doesn’t reach the heights of the first part of the album, but would make a  nice theme song should T-ara ever have their own tv show.

Now don’t let  this last paragraph put you off checking out Breaking Heart. Just consider the  last six songs bonus tracks to an amazing 10 track album. On it T-ara have put  together a collection of super catchy girl group tracks with some of the  slickest production many a pop act could only dream of. The album has its unique  K-Pop touches, but remains accessible enough for those of us mainly familiar  with western pop. It is awesome.

Be sure to check out I Go Crazy Because Of You, One & One and Bo Peep Bo Peep!

Breaking Heart by T-ara is available on iTunes.

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