Girls’ Generation returns with ‘Mr. Mr.’
Iconic K-pop girl group Girls’ Generation made a much-anticipated return to the music scene on Monday with their fourth EP “Mr. Mr.”
Given the group’s popularity and news that renowned producers and songwriters The Underdogs and Lindy Robbins participated in the production of the six-track album, many had high hopes for the return of the nine girls.
Unfortunately, though it definitely has a few strong tracks, the group’s new release generally falls short of all the hype it has received.
In particular, the title track is disappointing in both its sound and composition. The song fails to depart from the loud, typical K-pop dance melody progression and at times even sounds like a mere mash-up of their old hits. The lyrics do not seem to hold much meaning either.
“Goodbye” is arguably the best song on the album ― perhaps more title-track-worthy than “Mr. Mr.” ― featuring an original pop melody with pleasant guitar and mature vocals that add depth.
“Wait a Minute” showcases an upbeat and vintage sound with appealing retro rhythms.
The synth-pop track “Europa” delivers a futuristic melody and lyrics that are quite immature compared with the two abovementioned tracks.
In order to live up to their reputation, Girls’ Generation will need to step up their game.
Dierks Bently continues creative approach
Contemporary country singer Dierks Bentley has changed producers for “Riser,” his seventh album, and the results play up a long-held U2 influence. The chiming guitars and slow-boiling melodies add a simmering passion to Bentley’s distinctive vocal and writing style, while the lyrics and subtle instrumental touches tie it to country music.
Working with producer Ross Copperman, Bentley’s ambitious reach comes charging back in such new gems as the spiritual “Here on Earth” and the personal statements of “I Hold On” and “Damn These Dreams.”
The album’s arrangements ― a refinement of a sound Bentley has drawn on since his 2003 debut ― mix atmospheric touches with steady rhythms that percolate and at times explode into fist-pumping anthems. The sound accentuates the strengths of Bentley’s voice, which nicely articulates narrative story songs like “Bourbon In Kentucky” (with harmony vocals by Kacey Musgraves) and the tangled emotions of “Say You Do.”
Bentley’s often shown a sly sense of humor, and it surfaces on the entertaining “Drunk on a Plane,” which manages to turn a poignant portrait of heartbreak into a party song.
“Riser” might not lift Bentley to the top-tier rank of label mates Luke Bryan and Eric Church, but the singer-songwriter continues to bring a much-needed creative heft to country music. (AP)
Phish’s Gordon creates accessible sound
When Mike Gordon steps away from his day job playing bass for mega jam band Phish, he tends to get even more experimental and weird than normal, which is saying a lot.
But on “Overstep,” his fourth solo album not counting two collaborations with Leo Kottke, Gordon creates a much more accessible and radio-friendly record. That’s not to say it’s boring, because it’s not, or predictable, because it isn’t.
But what it does have is a more solid rock base, perhaps thanks to the increased role of longtime collaborator and lead guitarist Scott Murawski and producer Paul Q. Kolderie, who previously worked with Radiohead.
What Gordon may have given up in control, he gains by creating a more unified and satisfying sound. Don’t worry, Gordon lovers. There’s still plenty of his off-the-wall lyrics.
Take “Ether,” the first track, where he dreamily describes floating around and encountering a cyclops and using rocket components to build a new girlfriend.
“Yarmouth Road” is the best song of the bunch, propelled by a Jamaican-influenced bounce, Murawski’s wah-wahing guitar and Gordon’s plea to “come on home and hang with the bees and buzz with the honeycomb.” (AP)