AFTERSCHOOL – Playgirlz

September 4, 2012 at 2:49 PM | Posted in After School | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
AFTERSCHOOL – Playgirlz

1. Rip off
2. Rambling girls
3. BROKEN HEART feat. Jung-A, Raina, Nana, E-Young
4. Diva [Japan Ver.]
5. Just in time
6. Shampoo [Japan Ver.]
7. Because of you [Japan Ver.]
8. Gimme Love
9. Miss Futuristic feat. Kahi, Juyeon, U-ie, Lizzy
10. Bang! [Japan Ver.]
11. Tell me

♦ ♦ ♦

Playgirlz is the Japanese debut album by South-Korean girl group AFTERSCHOOL, released on March 14, 2012. The album debuted at #6 on the Oricon charts, selling 28,489 units to date.

This is the original version for Rip off, but I already knew the Korean version from their later single ‘Flashback’. It’s a little bit different since there’s actually a solo singer in the chorus this time and I really think they should’ve sung everything together there but oh well. The song is still pretty fierce and is a great continuation of their electropop style of the past months. Great opening track to draw attention.

Ramling girls had to follow since it’s one of their best Japanese A-sides, the first original (non-translation) one too. I love everything about this track, from the deep synths to their ~la la la~’s in the chorus, everything is pretty damn catchy. The song as a whole just has more punch to it than some of their older material and it’s like a complete 180. Gotta love this.

Apparently they split up two songs between the 8 members, and Jung-A, Raina, Nana and E-Young got BROKEN HEART. I think it’s great they did this, especially since these four girls sound pretty hot together. The music accompanying their lovely vocals is also electropop, but a bit more relaxed than the previous two tracks. The synths are less dominant but the beat is still pretty heavy and it has even deeper synths that almost sound like low electric guitars.

I love my boy, I love my boy‘, yes I know that by now. That line still doesn’t make sense. What DOES make sense now is the new arrangement for Diva and I’ve loved it since I first heard it in the new Korean version last year. It’s such an improvement from that simple ‘school girl version’ they did a couple of years ago. Now, the vocals are better and the ~diva, diva, di- di- di- diva~ in the chorus is finally ‘sung’ by an altered voice instead of some cheerleading A.S. members. It couldn’t get any better than this, really.

Just in time slows things down a little bit with a more R&B/pop influenced sound instead of the danceable electropop ambience. It’s a super cute song in the style of, well, pretty much what they did before their Japanese debut. It features some high pitched synths, bells and even the line ~twinkle twinkle twinkle~, how fluffy. It’s not one of the best songs on the album but still it’s extremely enjoyable at this point.

Shampoo [Japan Ver.] is, doh, the Japanese version for the Korean song ‘Shampoo’, featured on their Korean debut album released in April 2011. It was one of my favorites on that album and I’m pretty sure it will be among my favorites on this album, but still there is something iffy about the vocals. They are a little too cute when compared to the Korean version, really. A.S. on helium? Anywayz, I still think this is one of their strongest songs when it comes to the music.

I still think this version of the song Because of you [Japan Ver.] is way better than the original since it’s way more balanced and the vocals are fuller. The Korean version was very agressive to me because of Kahi’s fierce rap in the slow ballad part and some other vocal problems, in this version all of those issues are gone and what’s left is a very nice vibrant song, very light too.

Gimme Love takes us out of the cute songs and back into the fierce dance sound that dominated the first part of the album. Heavy beats and deep synths make up this track, incluing some altered vocals from the girls in the pre-chorus as well. It’s not overused, they just used it in a very smart way. If it wasn’t for the language, this song would really have a K-pop vibe, love it.

The second split song is Miss Futuristic by Kahi, Juyeon, U-ie and Lizzy, LET THE BATTLE BEGIN. This song just dropped right in and it has a lot of auto-tune going on which I don’t really get… This is also the first song that felt a little too empty to me, I mean it’s there but it doesn’t have a very special sound to it so I must give the prize to the other four girls.

Ahhhh, Bang! [Japan Ver.] is already here to save the day. I love this track as you all probably know by now and although the Korean version is the freaking QUEEN this one is pretty hot as well. I can’t even talk about this track without acting like a complete fangirl, so I’m gonna keep it short with three words: recommended, sexy, perfect.

Tell me has definitely got the most unique sound on the album, following a clear and smooth R&B flow. It’s pretty cute but not overly, it’s just the perfect way to close this album in a sophisticated way. Even though these songs aren’t always best for a large group, the girls nailed it with their light vocals and they almost made it a bit angelic. Loved this as well.

Playgirlz was a way better album than I initially thought. I already knew half of the songs on the album, so that gave me enough room to form my opinion about the other half consisting of new tracks. I felt like they outdid themselves with this album, taking older songs and re-arranging them, while also adding some new complementary tracks. The ambience as a whole was perfect, it felt like one complete concept because some of the older songs were altered to fit their new style. I loved that, and I think I’m becoming more and more of a fan now. All I need to do is learn how to tell those chicks apart…

Favorite tracks: Rip off | Rambling girls | Diva | Shampoo [Japan Ver.] | Because of you [Japan Ver.] | Bang! [Japan Ver.] | Tell me

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

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