SISTAR 19 - "Gone Not Around Any Longer"

Over the past few weeks I've gotten a lot of requests to review this and that, and if you were one of those who asked, my answer has always been "I'll try", because no matter how much I want to write about all the great music I've been listening to, I'm going through a really rough patch with school and just this week I had to go to class all week with a flu and throat and ear infections left and right. I was hoping to get some "work" done on the blog over the weekend which is why I started listening to all the stuff I missed out on over the past few weeks and I got to the new SISTAR 19 EP when they came. The tears.

Sometimes I think my reviews are far too personal, especially when I read other blogs and critics and I get jealous at how well they compartmentalize and just go straight to the music, but then I remember that I always complain about acts not showing enough sincerity and emotion. If I don't show you guys, if I don't tell you, what I felt and how those emotions came, then there's a very slim chance that my review won't be as effective as it could've been. If I can't move myself, and show you that I was moved, how am I supposed to even begin trying to move you.

So yes, the SISTAR 19 EP made me cry. Twice. You probably don't know this, but I'm the type of person who, out of both necessity and years of trying, has forged a kind of mask. I don't cry unless it's serious, it's always when no one's looking, and no matter how depressed or stressed out I am, on the outside I've made myself out to be perfectly fine. I don't talk about my problems with my friends or my parents, I've held in majority of my frustrations and self-esteem issues, and I know it's dangerous and I shouldn't be holding things in, which is why I started writing.

The main reason why this made me cry was because "Gone Not Around Any Longer" is a really, really good EP, plain and simple. Call it a shallow reason, but honestly I think it's the only reason why I'd ever cry over the music I listen to. Of course it was enforced by the fact that I've been having a really hard time lately, but like I said I may not be able to compartmentalize when I write, but I do a ridiculously good job of it in real life. The fact that this was a good EP, the fact that this is such a beautiful EP, was what made the dam break open.

As a whole, I really love the light-hearted sound of the EP because for once it's a sound I would definitely imagine a bunch of young-ish girls to pursue. It's youthful, it's fun and light-hearted, but at the same time it is sexy, and it is feminine. This is the part between innocent little girl and woman in her late 20's/early 30's that pop tends to forget, or can't really capture accurately because it's neither of the polar opposites, but which also happens to be a pretty big part of fan bases. But from what I've heard on this EP, it looks like SISTAR 19 had no problem capturing that playful femininity and delivering it with conviction, cohesion, and a sense of effortlessness.

When I first heard "Gone Not Around Any Longer" the song, it was a pleasant surprise more than anything. I had read some comments on it last night and the negativity of them only made my surprise even more striking. It sounds very Brave Brothers, but this is one of those "once in a blue moon" times when he manages to find an extremely effective compromise between the familiar and the fresh, as far as his previous productions are concerned. For the most part, the selling point of this song is how he took all those makeshift "jazz" elements we've heard before, those familiar loops, that trumpet he seemed to be attached to all of last year, and even those high-pitched "ooh ooh"'s, but he didn't weigh them down even more with a very intense melody like the one in "Alone". Instead, he went one step further and actually gave the melody some spring to its step.

The result is a song with depth, with both a mysterious air and a cheery disposition -- it's feminine and sexy without being flat or boring. You get a song with some really gorgeous instruments like that crisp drum kit that literally made me melt, and that gutsy but graceful electric guitar, all delivered with effortlessly musical dynamics which make for some really heart-stopping but natural transition. And on top of all that there's this gorgeously put-together and thoughtfully delivered melody that gives the song power all while reenforcing the over-all graceful facade. Though it would still be outrageous to compare this song to heaven’s gift to man kind in the form of Craig David’s “Fill Me In”, first because that song is immortal and second because they’re two different songs with different destinations, they’re similar in one thing -- “Gone Not Around Any Longer”, especially the chorus, is probably the closest recent K-Pop has gotten to capturing and successfully delivering that nonchalant, “cool” but urgent and confident sound which “Fill Me In” is the epitome of.

I never thought I'd live to see the day a Brave Brothers production would stun me as much as After School's "Because Of You" did, but it looks like I have.

As much as I now worship "Gone Not Around Any Longer" for being a brilliant piece of pop music, it was ultimately "A Girl In Love" that drove the album's point home. I find it quite ironic that the most light-hearted song on the album was the one that drew the most emotions from me, but that's exactly why it's my favorite song. I don't know how many times I've said this, but really, the hardest thing to do is to deliver a simple song well, because a lot of people take them for granted and end up just doing an average job. "A Girl In Love" is the complete opposite, because it's such a simple, almost generic song, but you can hear that everyone who had a hand in it took it seriously.

What I really like about the song is how you can actually hear everything going on without putting too much thought into things, from the melody to the tambourines and the synth lines. But instead of the quietness turning into a competition between the elements, they do the complete opposite and bring out the strengths in each other. The gracefulness of the melody gives way to the texture of the tambourines and the sophistication the loops are going for.

What ultimately convinced me though is the fact that while this song was clearly taken seriously, it only served to make the over-all sound and atmosphere even more fun and light-hearted. Because everyone knew what to do, very minimal concentration was required for the basic "what note do I play", so everyone turned to the next question, "how do I hit this note". It's that kind of mindset that makes for a good song, because like I always say, in pop it's not about what you do, because majority of the songs are pretty much all the same, it's about how you do it. This isn’t a pretentious song, it’s exactly what you hear it as, and it doesn’t give off that air of trying too hard -- whatever depth or beauty you get from the song is a natural byproduct. This, my friends, is called chemistry. Chemistry between the elements, the instruments, the arrangement and melody, and with the delivery.

Honestly I thought that “Ma Boy” would destroy the momentum of the album, because from what I could remember it didn’t have that gentle intensity to it -- even if it has that fun element, the hook was a lot heavier and I recalled it having a different over-all feel from the two new tracks. But when I actually listened to it in relation to the rest of the EP, I was surprised when the real effect was the exact opposite of what I thought it would be. “Ma Boy” works with the other two songs precisely because of my reasons for thinking it wouldn’t. It’s a lot heavier most probably because it was produced before they even thought of putting it on the EP, but it’s that weight and intensity, coupled with the playful element present throughout all three songs, that gives the EP some dynamics. If the previous two songs were more concentrated on the “how”, on the process and the elements, “Ma Boy” goes ahead and delivers the punch for the whole EP. This is how you do dynamism right, not only with conviction, but with cohesion to boot.

I never thought I would say this about a release by SISTAR, or any division of, but if I were to sum up this EP in one word, I’d say it’s masterful. It’s masterful pop music, the kind that doesn’t claim to be “intellectual”, but in having all the qualities of the epitome of a pop release, becomes intellectual anyway. It is in these kinds of EPs that I get proof of the depth of songs that most people deem “shallow”.

5/5

3 comments:

  1. What a frightfully brilliant conclusion! You some how managed to invade my brain and string my thoughts along on paper in a remarkably straightforward manner! I commend you for this! It is quite an achievement (fyi I have very muddled brain) BTW I couldn't agree more with your 'shallow' statement, it's exactly the stance I take with pop music! Keep up the good work because it IS WORK! What do you think you'll be doing after you graduate? Sitting in a classroom doing a maths test? I DON'T THINK SO! You'll be writing and blogging and conquering the world one article at a time because you are absolutely amazing (oh and you should also have my babies). But yes take my advice and treat your more tedious classes with a grain of salt, they don't matter in the long run! I see big things on your horizon kiddo!(don't know why I called you that LOL) Oh, and get well soon!

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  2. Perfect (single) album is perfect

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  3. Your thoughts are exactly like mine. Reading your review surprised me so much that I thought this could have been another me writing it. Sistar19's EP made me cry too. It was released at the time where I was struggling and suffering a downfall and having it then was such a mercy. I agree with you, some people took the song too lightly; they judge before they gave it time to reveal its true beauty. Everything needs time to reveal its beauty. I may be a star1 and love these girls' music to bits, but this EP really struck a chord for me and I can am forever grateful that it was them that is behind the making and delivering of such wonder. Your review is perfect, I wished I had found your blog earlier! Thank you for literally taking those thoughts from my mind and into such a great review.

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