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Posted by eric_r_wirsing AKP STAFF Saturday, March 19, 2016

[Album & MV Review] Hyomin - 'Sketch'



Track List:

1. Gold
2. Road Trip
3. Sketch (Korean Ver.)
4. Still
5. Only We Are Unaware Of Our Story
6. Sketch (Chinese Ver.)
7. Sketch (Chorus Ver.)

T-ara's Hyomin makes her sexy solo comeback with the release of her second mini-album, 'Sketch.' Expanding her talents as an artist, she also composed and wrote for the tracks "Only We Are Unaware Of Our Story," and the ballad "Not Yet," which B2ST's Junhyung also contributed lyrics to. The five tracks also include remixes of the title track, one being sung in Chinese due to T-ara's popularity in China.

The first cut is "Gold," while optimistically titled, it's not far from the truth. The mid-tempo tune starts with a synth that almost sounds like a vocal, sampled and distorted, and it serves the song well. This song soars like a freed bird, and has that ethereal quality that I like. Hyomin's vocals are first-rate here and the lyrics talk of how she keeps her optimism high, through the love of her dear ones. They make her "gold."

"Road Trip" has some xylophone-type sounds, evolving into an R&B beat, with a sexy bent. While the vocals aren't as amazing as in "Gold," the girl still knows how to bend a note. It has a lively beat, which is exactly the mood the song needs. Appropriately named, "Road Trip" is a fun tune about going for a ride with your lover.

Now we come to the title track, "Sketch." The tune features a lot to R&B, electronica, and soul. Beginning with the lines "I'll be your canvas, you draw me all night long," it's not hard to figure what this song's about. As the song progresses, their love is revealed layer by layer, like a painting. References to love are crossed with those of art ("I'll be awakened by the tip of your brush"), and there's a definite nod to dubstep at one point. Not the most original concept (4minute's comeback, anyone?) but still a sweetly seductive song.

The next track, "Still," has a very retro blues-style to it. Not that it copies any particular tune, but it does sound very familiar to my ears. During the chorus it's joined by distinctly un-bluesy instruments, but returns to the familiar in stages, but there's a time-change in there that turns into more of a sweeping ballad. Her voice is quite mournful at times; appropriate, since the song is about having to forget a lover. It's not a new sentiment, but it's a beautiful song nonetheless.  

"Only We Are Unaware Of Our Story" is a mid-tempo soft rock tune. There's a lot going on here, from the insistent hook "Stay With Me" to the different effects and time changes. An acoustic guitar and piano provide the melody, and Hyomin's voice sounds especially sweet here. She's singing about how she's happy, but at the same time wants to talk to him about their relationship.

The Chinese version of "Sketch" is fairly identical to the Korean version, down to the hook. However, the Chorus version is a discofied mess, at times barely recognizable as a remix and is entirely its own song.

I think Hyomin has actually grown as an artist. It's nice to see her participating in the album production process as I hear she was also involved in nearly all aspects of producing this album, from the photoshoots, to the composing, etc. Also, I like this album a lot better than "Make Up." It distinguishes itself from the winter midtempo crowd by not only the vocal talent but also in the choice of melodies. They're not quite one genre or the other, and the architects of this disc keep it fresh by introducing different instruments into the mix (as in "Still"). Each song has a sensuality that won't leave you cold as you wait for the rain to abate.   


Hyomin becomes every tattoo artist's fantasy in "Sketch."

She enters a tattoo parlor, and the poor inker never has a chance, as he is entranced by her beauty. Soon, they get steamy in an apartment. Knowing glances, sexy outfits, and home movies become the order of the day, until finally, she disappears, the inkwork apparently done. All he is left with is rose petals on the chair and his memories. Was it all a dream?

Namgoong Min is the love interest here (remember him from 'The Girl Who Sees Smells?'). He does a pretty good job, expressions and all. Hyomin is great at being sexy, though there is one quick shot where her face seemed expressionless, she redeemed herself with a soft look in her eyes that put me more at ease.

The dancing here is minimal, and not that challenging. And the scene where her hands and the dancer's hands cover up her no-no parts? As subtle as a train wreck...

I love Hyomin's hair for this comeback. Her long, lustrous locks are a welcome sight in my eyes, and it suits her better than the blond mop from her solo debut.

HYOMIN: This isn't going on YouTube is it?
NAMGOONG: Trust me, baby...

This is pretty steamy stuff, but I can't deny it was well-done. Rather than seeming tawdry, it was fairly classy with the slo mo FX, and the overall effect was rather nice. One scene flowed into another, dreamlike and ethereal, and there were only a few little WTF moments, but it didn't detract from the rest of it. I like the fact that she left him with a souvenir, sort of a "remember me" moment, like Cinderella's slipper and Prince Charming. I doubt he'll be knocking on doors asking, "do these petals belong to you?" Well played, Hyomin.


MV Relevance.......8 
MV Production.......9 
MV Concept..........9
Album Production..8
Album Concept.....9 


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