Girls’ Generation released their third Korean studio album, “The Boys”, on October 19th after almost a year long wait from their last Korean album.  Fans were eagerly anticipating what the girls would come out with after the new sound of the first Japan album (reviewed here).  Almost instantly the album and lead single became a hit.  Many digital charts had their top ten songs all as tracks from “The Boys”, and the title track would go on to win triple crowns on Inkigayo and M Countdown, and six straight Music Bank K-Charts, the most by any artist since Girls’ Generation themselves pulled off nine in a row with “Gee” back in 2009.  In just two months, “The Boys” became the highest selling album of 2011 on the Gaon chart in Korea.  Clearly SONEs, and the general public, were in love with the album, showing just how popular Girls’ Generation had become.  Let’s take a look at “The Boys” and see what all the fuss is about.

“The Boys” CD and tin case

“The Boys” is a pretty unique album.  It comes in a tin case showing all nine girls with a design reminiscent of the “Into The New World” single.  Perhaps it’s fitting that the album is in a case like this, because when you open it, it feels like a little treasure chest of goodies.  There are ten postcards, one for each member and also a group picture, and on each of the post cards are the girls’ fairy tale concept images as well as their unique “thanks to” messages, the translations of which can be seen in Soshified’s Translated Goodies section.  There is also a random member’s photocard in the case.  When I bought the album it also came with posters, one group poster of the girls looking elegant in flowing white dresses, and the other a poster of a random member’s teaser picture.  The posters are on thick non-glossy paper, which looks nice because the theme of the photos has somewhat of a vintage motif.  Amazingly I got Sunny for both the photocard and the poster.  The CD itself is laid in a black felt holder inside the case, and all around, the album just feels classy.  Lastly, a wallet sized photo of the group poster was included.  “The Boys” comes with so much stuff that it felt like an early Christmas when I opened the package.

Packaging: 9/9

The members’ individual cards come in a thick sleeve with the album design

Now on to the meat of the album, the music (the translated lyrics for all the songs can be found in the Soshified’s Lyrics Center).  “The Boys” isn’t so much an “album” per se as it is a collection of Girls’ Generation songs.  Whereas the first Japan album had a distinct sound and production that was consistent throughout the album, “The Boys” feels more like the producers sat down and said, “Hey this song is good, let’s throw that in there, too.”  This is not necessarily a bad thing, however.  With “The Boys” you get to hear all sides of Girls’ Generation, from cute and bubbly to dark and powerful, and the album itself starts out with some ferocity in the title track, “The Boys”.

Teddy Riley, an American producer who composed the song and has worked with legends like Michael Jackson, gave the girls a strong title track.  The beat is vicious and demands your attention as soon as it comes in after the intro that includes Jessica’s fan-chant inducing “G. G.”.  The song is different from a typical pop track.  It doesn’t have the normal kind of hook that we’ve come to expect from a Girls’ Generation song, and in that sense it was a huge risk for this to be the lead single.  From the chanting chorus to the rapping in the dance break, “The Boys” shows a new side to Girls’ Generation.  But it works.  The second half of the song leading into Taeyeon’s soaring “My heart~” and Jessica’s slowly ascending “Girls bring the boys out” takes the listener to new heights before immediately dropping them back into the beat.  “The Boys” is one of my favorite tracks, and it starts the album off with a bang.

The bang kind of fizzles, though, because “Telepathy” is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from “The Boys”, so it’s a bit jarring to go right into it.  It’s a nice song, but it’s not a strong one. There are some great moments like Taeyeon’s high note towards the end of the song that creates an interesting harmony, but I was left wanting more after the attention grabbing first song. The third track, “Say Yes”, is a decent song, but it’s so sweet I think I got a few cavities just from listening to it.  I love this side of Girls’ Generation, but the overly cute intro from Jessica and Tiffany left me cringing a little bit.

“TRICK” is another one of my favorites.  The modification of Tiffany’s “L-L-Ladies gentlemen” at the start draws me in right away, and the chorus is just plain good with a combination of singing and rapping.  The production on this song stands out because of the smart usage of auto-tune to fit the electro-dance sound and interesting choices made with the stutter of the girls’ voices.  Next, “How Great Is Your Love” is a really nice and uplifting song with lyrics written by Girls’ Generation’s own Sooyoung.  The lyrics flow smoothly and create a nice feeling with the movement of the seasons, and in general the song just gives off a happy vibe.  The girls get to show off some of their vocal prowess as well, which is always good to hear.  Following this is “My J”, another cute track with a happy beat. There’s nothing really outstanding about it, but I can’t help singing along.

Sunny’s poster

After those bright and happy songs we plunge into the dark with “OSCAR”, the best track on the album.  This beat just comes out of nowhere and punches you in the gut like a heavyweight fighter. The vocals are dark and mysterious with crazy intervals and harmonies, and by the time Jessica says “Come on boy”, I’m at their mercy.  The song doesn’t give you a chance to recover until after the funky bass-slapping second verse and Tiffany and Hyoyeon’s unique sounding rap.  The song fades out before slamming you back into the bridge and last chorus.  “OSCAR” is an all-out assault on your aural senses.

“Top Secret” follows up right after, and the “Hoot” style song is addictive, especially the chanting of “check” halfway through.  The song is quite interesting lyrically, showcasing some of the difficulties with being a celebrity and the need to be “Top Secret”.  Lyrical fun continues in “Lazy Girl”.  I can only assume the choice of having Jessica start the song by singing “I’m a lazy girl” is done on purpose, but it is endearing to hear her sing it.  “Sunflower” feels lifted right out of the 80s but with a modern spin.  It’s a soothing ballad-style song, and the way the girls sing the chorus gives the song an ethereal feel.

Out of all the cute sounding songs, the energy pill “VITAMIN” stands out.  The beat and melody instantly put me in a good mood, and it’s incredibly catchy.  It was originally used for the Vita500 ad campaign, and the girls showed off a fun dance to go along with the song, so I was really happy to hear that the full song would be included on “The Boys”.  The album wraps up with the Korean version of “MR. TAXI”.  At first, the lyrics just sounded strange since I’ve been listening to the original Japanese version for so long, but it does sound pretty good in Korean.  The breakdown in the middle sounded worse to me compared to the Japanese version, but the strangeness eventually faded to where I think I prefer the Korean version, mostly because I can actually understand some of it.  We’ve all heard “MR. TAXI” a million times, but even after all this time it remains a killer pop song.

Girls’ Generation members in the group poster

Girls’ Generation had a lot of pressure leading up to the release of “The Boys”.  A less than stellar effort could be seen as a disappointment after their incredible first Japan album.  The verdict?  It’s not stellar, but it’s also not a disappointment.  The songs are quite good for the most part, but there is no pace to the album.  Going from fierce to cute to fierce interrupts the feeling and flow to a point where I don’t feel like I’m having a listening experience so much as I have iTunes on shuffle.  “The Boys” is a must buy though, not only for having some absolutely amazing songs like “OSCAR” and “The Boys”, but also for the sheer amount of goodies you get.

Songs: 6/9
Overall: 7/9

Written by: MoonSoshi9@soshified
Edited by: michaelroni@soshified

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