Sometimes I think my reviews are far too personal, especially when I read other blogs and critics and I get jealous at how well they compartmentalize and just go straight to the music, but then I remember that I always complain about acts not showing enough sincerity and emotion. If I don't show you guys, if I don't tell you, what I felt and how those emotions came, then there's a very slim chance that my review won't be as effective as it could've been. If I can't move myself, and show you that I was moved, how am I supposed to even begin trying to move you.
The main reason why this made me cry was because "Gone Not Around Any Longer" is a really, really good EP, plain and simple. Call it a shallow reason, but honestly I think it's the only reason why I'd ever cry over the music I listen to. Of course it was enforced by the fact that I've been having a really hard time lately, but like I said I may not be able to compartmentalize when I write, but I do a ridiculously good job of it in real life. The fact that this was a good EP, the fact that this is such a beautiful EP, was what made the dam break open.
As a whole, I really love the light-hearted sound of the EP because for once it's a sound I would definitely imagine a bunch of young-ish girls to pursue. It's youthful, it's fun and light-hearted, but at the same time it is sexy, and it is feminine. This is the part between innocent little girl and woman in her late 20's/early 30's that pop tends to forget, or can't really capture accurately because it's neither of the polar opposites, but which also happens to be a pretty big part of fan bases. But from what I've heard on this EP, it looks like SISTAR 19 had no problem capturing that playful femininity and delivering it with conviction, cohesion, and a sense of effortlessness.
The result is a song with depth, with both a mysterious air and a cheery disposition -- it's feminine and sexy without being flat or boring. You get a song with some really gorgeous instruments like that crisp drum kit that literally made me melt, and that gutsy but graceful electric guitar, all delivered with effortlessly musical dynamics which make for some really heart-stopping but natural transition. And on top of all that there's this gorgeously put-together and thoughtfully delivered melody that gives the song power all while reenforcing the over-all graceful facade. Though it would still be outrageous to compare this song to heaven’s gift to man kind in the form of Craig David’s “Fill Me In”, first because that song is immortal and second because they’re two different songs with different destinations, they’re similar in one thing -- “Gone Not Around Any Longer”, especially the chorus, is probably the closest recent K-Pop has gotten to capturing and successfully delivering that nonchalant, “cool” but urgent and confident sound which “Fill Me In” is the epitome of.
I never thought I'd live to see the day a Brave Brothers production would stun me as much as After School's "Because Of You" did, but it looks like I have.
What I really like about the song is how you can actually hear everything going on without putting too much thought into things, from the melody to the tambourines and the synth lines. But instead of the quietness turning into a competition between the elements, they do the complete opposite and bring out the strengths in each other. The gracefulness of the melody gives way to the texture of the tambourines and the sophistication the loops are going for.
What ultimately convinced me though is the fact that while this song was clearly taken seriously, it only served to make the over-all sound and atmosphere even more fun and light-hearted. Because everyone knew what to do, very minimal concentration was required for the basic "what note do I play", so everyone turned to the next question, "how do I hit this note". It's that kind of mindset that makes for a good song, because like I always say, in pop it's not about what you do, because majority of the songs are pretty much all the same, it's about how you do it. This isn’t a pretentious song, it’s exactly what you hear it as, and it doesn’t give off that air of trying too hard -- whatever depth or beauty you get from the song is a natural byproduct. This, my friends, is called chemistry. Chemistry between the elements, the instruments, the arrangement and melody, and with the delivery.
Honestly I thought that “Ma Boy” would destroy the momentum of the album, because from what I could remember it didn’t have that gentle intensity to it -- even if it has that fun element, the hook was a lot heavier and I recalled it having a different over-all feel from the two new tracks. But when I actually listened to it in relation to the rest of the EP, I was surprised when the real effect was the exact opposite of what I thought it would be. “Ma Boy” works with the other two songs precisely because of my reasons for thinking it wouldn’t. It’s a lot heavier most probably because it was produced before they even thought of putting it on the EP, but it’s that weight and intensity, coupled with the playful element present throughout all three songs, that gives the EP some dynamics. If the previous two songs were more concentrated on the “how”, on the process and the elements, “Ma Boy” goes ahead and delivers the punch for the whole EP. This is how you do dynamism right, not only with conviction, but with cohesion to boot.