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Published : 2013-09-06 20:56
Updated : 2013-09-06 20:56

Kara fails to impress on ‘Full Bloom’

Kara
“Full Bloom”
(LOEN Entertainment)

Kara has made a comeback with a completely new look, shedding its cutesy concept for an edgier look. Despite the new, exciting look, however, the group’s fourth studio album “Full Bloom” is standard pop affair.

Title track “Damaged Lady” is about a woman bitter about a break-up and features the sound of French pop with a touch of rock. The melody is catchy enough, but the voice of each member is difficult to discern throughout the song. This lack of individuality is probably due to the copious amount of auto-tuning for not only this song, but the entire nine-track album as a whole.

“1+1” has a bubblegum pop sound with cutesy vocals and a bouncy beat. “In the Game” has a big band introduction and goes into a forgettable melody complete with cringe-inducing chanting in the chorus. “2Night” is both mediocre in melody as well as subject matter.

There are, however, hidden gems in the album. “Runaway” has a sweet melody that starts out with acoustic guitar, enhanced by smooth vocals. “Follow Me” has an old-school bass line resulting in a funky sound suitable to listen to after a hard day‘s work.

By Cha Yo-rim (yorimcha@heraldcorp.com)


Ariana Grande’s debut 1 of year’s best

Ariana Grande
“Yours Truly”
(Republic Records)

The 20-year-old singer-actress, one of the stars of Nickelodeon‘s “Victorious” and the network’s spin-off “Sam and Cat,” is in near-perfect form on her debut, mainly thanks to her Mariah Carey-esque vocals and songs written by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds.

“Yours Truly” kicks off with the R&B-flavored, near-6 minute “Honeymoon Avenue.” It‘s dreamy, velvety and warm, and backed with shoo-be-doos and violins. It sounds as good as a Justin Timberlake intro.

Grande uses her voice as an instrument throughout the 12-track set: “Baby I,” with its finger snaps, features her screaming high notes; “Tattooed Heart” and “Daydreamin” are A-List ballads; and on “The Way,” her lead single and Top 10 hit, Grande’s voice sounds like a Carey-Toni Braxton mash-up.

“Almost Is Never Enough,” a duet with The Wanted‘s best vocalist, Nathan Sykes, sounds classic and the Big Sean-assisted “Right There,” which samples Jeff Lorber’s “Rain Dance” -- also sampled for Lil Kim‘s “Crush on You” -- could easily be a No. 1 hit. (AP)


Nine Inch Nails emerges from darkness

Nine Inch Nails
“Hesitation Marks”
(Columbia)

Sun-kissed harmonies, funk-flecked guitar lines and -- whisper it -- a saxophone workout all make an appearance on “Hesitation Marks,” a surprising new offering from Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails after a lengthy, self-imposed hiatus.

“Wish me well -- I‘ve become something else (just as well, really)”sings the front man on the surprisingly poppy track “Everything,” which has spawned a fan-made video of Reznor riding a white unicorn in front of a rainbow. Elsewhere, the falsetto-vocals and staccato guitar line of “All Time Low,” and the brass stabs that punctuate the shuffling rhythm of “While I’m Still Here” suggest Reznor is leading his troops to markedly new terrain.

The band‘s trademark brand of decaying electronica and discordant noise has not been ditched altogether, though. The opening four tracks play like a “best of” Nine Inch Nails. Lead-off single “Came Back Haunted” couples existential lyrics with aggressive synths and a searing guitar line. And spiritual ballad “Find My Way” echoes the group’s 1995 single “Hurt.” (AP)

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