Pledis is really on a roll this year after years without new groups debuting (new After School members don't count), and while I was a bit doubtful at first, looks like my doubts were proven wrong.
I know that apart from music show recaps, I didn't talk about NU'EST, but for both them and now Hello Venus, I honestly had zero expectations, which is both a good and bad. Obviously it's bad because having no expectations means that I wasn't impressed with anything before the formal album release, and considering how many misses Pledis has made with After School (in comparison to their hits, that is), I wasn't sure if I wanted more groups they could screw up. However, it's also a good thing because starting with zero expectations means that if they play their cards right, things will turn out perfectly fine. They did for NU'EST, because while fundamentally they're not the best at anything, they're not completely bad either, and they mix that competence with confidence and conviction. And I'm sincerely hoping they work out for Hello Venus too.
Because from this EP, they're not half bad. Of course there are a lot of things I'd like changed and improved, but all in all it's a solid first release, and though I don't know all the members, the material does a good job of showing off what they can do, along with what they're pushing for. In all honesty, it's the first K-Pop release I've genuinely enjoyed in quite a while (my dry spell was also partially because of all the mediocrity being released), and for a rookie group, of their stature also, it's not something I'm going to take lightly.
I don't ask much from rookie groups, I just want them to deliver their material with competence, conviction and a sense of togetherness, and I want them to show the beginnings of a musical identity. Surprises of all surprises, I found that in "Venus". While their material isn't exactly top-tier or revolutionary or anything, it's solid, again it shows off what they can do, and at the same time it matches their vocals.
"Hello" reminds me a lot of that ill-fated ZE:A single, whatever it was called, patched up and done that much better. As a song it's pretty boring and one-dimensional, but it's strong, and it gives off a rather confident impression, which is always a good thing for a new groups. Now I understand that "Venus" is a lead single, and while it's the second weakest song on the EP, it has a merit that no one should overlook. It's cutesy, yes, it's saccharine sweet and all that, but this is what I mean when I say that cute doesn't have to be overdone. You can be cutesy without sounding like 3 year-olds. There are still those baby moments here and there, but the hooks, and about 95% of the song, is cute without being annoying. Looks like Pledis can still churn out attitude. I personally wouldn't listen to it again for personal reasons, but I'm curious to see how they'll carry this live.
Now, I'll probably get backlash for saying this, or you guys will be like "not the ballad again", but "설레임" really was the track that convinced me these girls have some semblance of talent. It's not perfect, and I doubt they all have solos on this, but it's a fair attempt at a potentially boring song. The melody is gorgeous bordering on stunning once they hit the chorus, and while the arrangement is standard, honestly I think that's something they need to have on the album. They're rookies, and while everyone's "be yourself" and all that, at the end of the day, to me at least, before they can go frolicking around with whatever crazy idea Pledis has, they have to show that they have some semblance of fundamentals, and this song does it. I want to hear this live, Pledis.
"Love Appeal" starts out sounding like a T-Ara rip-off, and I thought it would be like that for the entire song, but surprisingly, both arrangement, melody and delivery-wise, it does a complete 180. I love the arrangement, I'm not ashamed of saying that, and it's currently fighting to be my favorite song on the EP. It's upbeat, it's happy, but it's also well-done and confident. The part I'm most surprised and pleased with though is the fact that part of the reason why this doesn't sound like a complete rip-off is because of the girls' vocals -- because on this song, they're not completely plain and boring, they actually have the beginnings of character.
I've pretty much come to the conclusion that I'm liking Hello Venus, and more than an "I'll keep my eye on you", it's more of a like where I hope they'll be able to deliver this material and live up to what it's shown us, and that, if they do have something to offer, they keep improving getting better and better material.