ALBUM REVIEW: Blackpink adds bubblegum pop to the mix on ‘Born Pink’
Marking its sixth year as a group, Blackpink is back with its anticipated sophomore album, Born Pink. The quartet comprised of Jisoo, Jennie, Rose and Lisa shows that being one of the biggest names in K-Pop has its perks. While what fans (BLINKs) have come to know from the group still shines through, Blackpink also dabbles in bubblegum pop and alt-pop, an uncharted area for the quartet.
YG Entertainment, Sept. 16
Single “Pink Venom” does not represent the tone of the overall album. However, it harkens back to the recognizable sounds featured in their earlier work. The faint, ever-increasing Blackpink chant over the plunking twang of strings feeds into the introduction of the promiscuously bumping chorus.
The song quickly begins to feel disjointed with a smattering of several conflicting musical styles. Lisa and Jennie strut across the beat as they effortlessly deliver the right amount of energy to elevate the song despite all of that, while Jinsoo and Rose provide effectively strong vocals. It’s become a pop hit already, but the album gets much better from there.
“Typa Girl” samples the sound of a music box over crisp finger-snapping that’s stopped by an abrupt end of a distorted record and immediately pivoting into a hard, pop-driven beat. Sirens and zooting kazoo add levity to an already hard-hitting bass line. Even with the killer beat, the song suffers from lackluster lyrics and fails to add substance.
If “Pink Venom” was representative of Blackpink’s earlier sound, “Shut Down” is a testament to the sophistication and refinement of where the group has gone from there. Uttering the infamous verse of the now well-known chant from “BOOMBAYAH,” off 2016 debut EP Square Two, Blackpink seamlessly blends the intricate and pointed notes of the lively strings to pierce through the drop bass introduction as the four deliver verses that hop and pop across the song. The thickness of the bass elongates the beat and provides space for the punchy and tight lyrics. This track provides a chilled swagger reminiscent of their sister group, 2NE1, and is a stamp of the BLACKPINK sound that fans have grown accustomed to hearing.
The rest of the album takes a more subdued and rock-focused direction. “Yeah Yeah Yeah” is a refreshing shift to Blackpink’s hard pop sound. Evoking a familiar alt-pop riff and layering it with a punchy synth, it shows off the group’s versatility. The alt-pop fusion stirs up memories of being a carefree teen. “Hard To Love” follows a similar approach but highlights the vocal abilities not often featured in the group’s singles. “Tally” has a twangy, industrial sound that gives it more edge while its rougher vocals bring a grit evoking vulnerability.
Soft ballad “The Happiest Girl” best shows off each member’s vocal ability and harmonizing. Harmonious chords paired with the tepidness of the piano provides another layer to the group’s progression. “Ready for Love” lifts the mood with a dreamy and tropical EDM tempo to pump the beat and marks the close of the album.
Born Pink marks the next chapter of Blackpink, solidifying its hold not only in South Korea but around the world. The four show real growth as artists by experimenting with new sounds instead of stagnating by following the previously proven formula.
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