Kpop girl group After School is making a comeback to the industry with their first full length album entitled "Virgin". AS hasn't released any new music since "Bang!" in 2010, and only the sub-units and other members have been doing any sort of promotion. You might remember Orange Caramel's "Bangkok City" and Kahi's "Come Back You Bad Person". While both solo projects were interesting and kept fans entertained, it's good to see the group back as a whole and making great music for us. Check out my full album review below:
Their intro track “Let’s Step Up” is indeed a confirmation of what the group did with their music. What I love about AS is their ability to transform and experiment. It’s obvious they’re tap dancing in this number. The track is more on the hip hop side and definitely pulls you in once it starts off. It had me tuned in to the album, but after moving on to the next track, I was a bit thrown off.
After playfully teasing with chic and sophisticated album photos and an MV teaser for their lead single “Shampoo“, fans became very anxious as to what After School had in store for their comeback. Well, after finally releasing the full audio of their newest song, fans were left either overjoyed or dismayed. “Shampoo” is a dance number with somewhat of a long opening but the piano melody is lovely. The title alone had me puzzled and I would definitely have to listen to it a few more times before I grow into loving it. While the MV showed off a softer side to the ladies, this song being chosen as a lead single for the album is in my opinion not the best choice. The coolest thing about the track is that it was produced by popular Japanese composer Daishi Dance. It’s kinda Jpop-ish and features similar composition as “Because of You“, however the instruments weren’t heavy but rather more tamed. The vocals were also very clear, and the rap parts were nice.
Among all the songs on the entire album my favorite would have to be the title track “Virgin“. The song starts out slow and picks up towards the hook, reminding me of an 80’s club joint by Shannon called “Let the music play“. But while I love the aforementioned, I wish they had spent more time coming up with MORE new songs. The album contains only 12 tracks, and 3 of them are new recordings of their previous hits: “Bang!“, “Because of You“, and “When I Fall“. So basically they only have 8 new songs and an intro which is just a minute and couple seconds long. “Virgin” should definitely be their second release from the album. It would be an awesome track to perform live. Check it out below:
“Play Ur Love” is a more laid back r&b track which features only four of the members. It’s a song filled with beautiful harmony and soulful solos. Definitely well produced. The bridge captivated me more than the other parts because of how passionate Raina made it sound. You could almost feel what she’s singing at that moment. “Dream” is an upbeat pop number that sounds like something an elementary school would sing. I’m not really feeling the track but i’m sure some kpop fans are. Regardless of my feelings the song does show effort and would work in clubs.
Raina takes her vocal abilities up a notch in “Leaning Against Time“. This is a lovely r&b track that I think only this girl could pull off, being that she has the power vocals in the group. The song incorporates her style well and shows how much of a necessity she is in After School.
The r&b ballads continue with “Are You Doing Okay?“. This is the song that showcases After School’s main vocalists. Their ability to harmonized is beyond impressive. They truly know how to mesh with each other and bring out the true potential of any slow song. I give them props for that. However, they ruined the mood by adding the next track “Funky Man” right after this heartwarming ballad. Apparently “Funky Man” was recorded by Nana and Lizzy, featuring the Pre-School girls. The track is good but it’s expected of Orange Caramel‘s members. They’re the ones with the whacky style so I wasn’t surprised they recorded this number.
The album goes back into the r&b genre with Jung-Ah’s solo “My Bell“. This group is obviously a fan of r&b, you can find the proof in most of the songs. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t love their songs. In fact, “My Bell” is my second favorite on the album. I’ve always loved Jung-Ah’s vocals. She has a raspy voice that sounds awesome in any genre she sings. I like her ability to captivate her audience and convey her emotions in every line she sings. There’s a certain purity within her that makes her voice so sweet and believable. A beautiful song and a beautiful singer.
After School did great with their first album. “Virgin” incorporates r&b, pop, dance, and hip hop. There’s individuality in each track and no sign of similarity anywhere. Overall, I give this album 4.7/5 because they needed more songs (especially more up-tempo tracks) and I’m not feeling their lead single. However, I’m thrilled they’re back and I can’t wait to see them performing live again. After School fighting!!
“Virgin’s” track list:1. Let’s Step Up 2. Shampoo 3. Virgin 4. Bang! 2011 5. Play Ur Love 6. Dream ft. Pre-school girls 7. Because of You 2011 8. Leaning against Time (Rain’s solo) 9. Are You Doing Okay? 10. Funky Man 11. My Bell (Jung Ah’s solo) 12. When I Fall 2011 (Images courtesy of a-school.co.kr)
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