AOA -- ANGEL'S KNOCK
1. Excuse Me
2. Bing Bing
3. Three Out
5. Can't Sleep
6. Lily (Feat. Rowoon of SF9)
7. Melting Love
8. Help Me
9. Oh Boy
10. With ELVIS
AOA knows how to ring in the new year with a full album. This new LP, 'Angel's Knock,' features 10 tracks, 2 of them Korean remakes of their Japanese counterparts. Jimin even contributed some lyrics to "Help Me" and "Melting Love" and "Feeling." This is their first full album.
"Excuse Me" is the first of the two title tracks, and I was worried about the beginning. The intro was a little limp, but I needn't have worried -- before long a pounding beat comes in to save it. Dressed up with production, the hook/chorus is so much better. ChoA shows exactly why she's the main vocalist, belting those lyrics for all she's worth. Jimin and Chanmi kill it on the rap line, too. Definitely title track worthy.
The second of the dual title tracks is "Bing Bing," pulling you in with a faux-jazz type groove, dressed up in pulsing pop rhythms and some beautiful harmonies. Everyone seems to have a part, and that's a good thing. The chorus is, unfortunately, weak. It tries to turn this into a low-key dance track, and I think "Excuse Me" is a stronger song overall. But the pre-chorus is pure gold, with Mina and Hyejeong giving it all they've got.
"Can't Sleep" is the second of the Brave Brothers-produced tracks and recalls some of the sounds on some of their old albums fused with newer songs. I like the pre-chorus on here, and it's loud and exciting, and I like the breaks where the chorus kind of floats, ethereal and faintly echoing. It's a good middle-ground and should please fans of early AOA.
I think "Lily" is one of the weaker tracks on the album. It features Rowan from SF9 to no distinction. It meanders and feels a lot like a Disney track, bland and safe. There's not a lot of things to pull you, it lacks a hook, and the beats are a little canned. The slide guitar kind of annoyed me, too. If they were going for an old-fashioned feel, they succeeded. But it doesn't fit at all with the tone of the album.
I think some of the strongest tracks on here are the remakes "Help Me" and "Oh Boy." Though they have been out awhile, this is my first time hearing them.
"Help Me" has a particular urgent feel to it, and the beats come fast and furious. I love how this transitions from main verses, and ChoA sounds absolutely awesome here. Jimin totally kills the raps here, and I like the transitions from the bridge to pre-chorus, and it's just a well put-together track.
The other remake, "Oh Boy," has some of that space age synth action I love, without skimping on the percussion, and autotune is used to good effect. It's fast and frantic, just the way I like it. It's a solid pop tune and is destined for my playlist.
"With ELVIS" is a track for fans and one of the stronger tunes on this disc. It's very soothing with an acoustic guitar and some flourishes that make me think of OST songs. It's sweeping and epic in parts and really brings a hopeful vibe. For those not in the know, ELVIS is AOA's fandom.
This album is a great one, crossing genres while still remaining firmly in the genre of dance pop. This is one of the more successful efforts in that the beats are strong and the retro doesn't overpower the pop, which works well. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I also think that it's one of their best in a while. On repeated listens, some of their more recent hits felt phoned in. On this one, ChoA really gives her pipes a workout, Jimin sounds energized, and everyone seems like they're jazzed on this one. If you're an AOA fan, then definitely pick this one up. What are you waiting for, an angel's knock?
MV REVIEW - EXCUSE ME
In this MV, the girls of AOA are spies. They plan in uniform and then are off to the races, peeping from windows and from behind newspapers, posing as waitresses, searching drawers and the like.
While I could add that they're too hot to be spies, one could use the excuse that they dazzle with their looks while getting the information they need. It's hardly the first time that's been tried (just google Mata Hari).
The set pieces and costumes really remind me of WWII, as they're meant to. The costumes, well, they're meant to accentuate the girls' charms and aren't really functional. They do a good job with evoking a mood, even as many of the things are modern on closer inspection.
The dancing is not all that. It really consists of barely moving their legs, likely mainly to avoid tripping over their high heels. It looks as if the choreo were an afterthought, which is a little insulting. It's sad they decided that the girls needed to look pretty in those sequences and not do much else.
But still, the video itself is cute. When you see things like old time wall phones, desk lamps and typewriters, it really tosses you into the retro-modern world. I imagine that if we were to look up, we'd see airships crossing the skies. It doesn't look cheap, either, which is a good thing. This one gets my stamp of approval.
MV REVIEW - BING BING
The girls are magicians in this effects-laden MV.
We see a variety of tricks here, from daring underwater escapes to more ordinary card tricks, ring tricks, and so on, all drawn from a stage magician's repertoire. The costumes are appropriate to match.
The dancing is, once again, lame. Meant to titillate more than anything, they adopted a sexy hip-shaking dance, except that there's little of that as well. You might well wonder if they can move much at all, except they are more animated in the non-dancing scenes.
In some ways, this one is better than "Excuse Me," with various camera tricks and some subtle CGI to sweeten the mix. There's no shortage of things to draw the eye, and while there are few surprising sights to anyone who has attended a magic show, it's still fun to watch.
So it still gets a thumbs up, but what the girls really need is to hire a choreographer.
(MV scores are averaged)