Although I’ll primarily be reviewing singles, there are some albums that are too influential or strong to not cover. In this segment, I will be spotlighting those standout albums and giving my thoughts on each and every track
It’s been a while since I’ve done an album review and most of that has got to do with me not really enjoying one all the way through since early March. Sure, there have been a number of strong b-sides, but few projects really managed to have an all-killer no filler setlist. Thankfully, WJSN have ended that streak releasing probably my favourite girl group mini album of the year so far. This LP is incredibly consistent, taking Cosmic Girl’s iconic spacy sound and stretching it in new directions. There isn’t a single weak link, with all 6 songs coming together to create a wonderfully cohesive project.
1. Butterfly (review)
A great summer themed comeback that would have been an excellent single, Hola is just pure unflagging energy from start to finish. I love how it rarely lets up, pulsing forward on an aggressive synth beat. It’s rare to find such a track in 2020 and its very existence is to be applauded. But while I appreciate the energy and powerful chorus, it just feels a little too loud for me. While I think this might have been fixed with a mv, I think its one of those tracks that might get tiring fast. But in the moment, it’s an excellent blast of sugary pop music. Though I like Butterfly quite abit, I think I would have preferred this as the single. Especially since kpop heading into summer.
One of the best and most musically inventive kpop songs of the year, Pantomime is an incredible piece of stylish dance pop. Two of my favourite b-sides from last year were IZ*ONE’s Highlight and Twice’s Love Foolish and Pantomime follows a similar route, taking its deep house template and stretching it in much more interesting and addicting directions. But I actually think I like Pantomime more than those other two tracks and thats because the song just never goes where you would expect. The song is incredibly sleek and the perfect playground for the group to showcase their charismatic vocals. It’s a track in constant flux, held together by the simple and wonderfully charismatic hook. But what really steals the show is Pantomime‘s final minute, which makes excellent use of build and an ‘anti-drop’ climax to bring an end to one of the groups most daring tracks.
4. Where You Are
Leaning completely into the more ‘cosmic’ side of their sound, Where You Are is a lush piece of symphonic pop. It’s a satisfying mix of the girls ‘Secret’ era sound mixed with the best aspects of Gfriend circa 2016/17. This is an incredible combination and immediately stood out to me as one of the albums highlights on first listen. I love the constant swirling of the strings and that ascending, guitar assisted pre-chorus is just gorgeous. The girls get to show off their incredible vocals and the melody is the perfect support. One of the most instantly satisfying tracks of the year.
Taking influence from the tropical house trend, Tra-La is one of the more successful renditions of the genre. Though most of it pulses with a similar addictive bounce, the real star of the show here is Yeonjung, who’s vocals during the hook just steal the show. She’s one of the best female vocalists out there and tracks like this really help showcase her skills. It’s one of those chill songs that feels perfect for long drives and would be perfect for any summer themed album. The chanted climax is reminiscent of As You Wish, but lacks the emotional sucker punch that track had. And that’s fine. Another incredibly solid b-side.
6. Our Garden
While the first 3 tracks of the album took the groups sound in more daring and interesting directions, the last three adhere to a more traditional Cosmic Girls template. This is in no way a bad thing as I fell in love with Cosmic Girls specifically because of this sound. Our Garden pulls from one of my all time favourite genre’s, City pop and is a very strong end to the album. If groups want to go for a more chill track, this is how you do it. The vocal layering and harmonising during the chorus is just heavenly. There are songs that hit you right over the head on first listen, while others hinge their bets on longevity. Our Garden is one of those songs that I doubt will leave the playlist anytime soon. It’s right up there with Dreamcatchers Jazz Bar as one of my favourite mid-tempo’s of the year.
Best Album Tracks
- Where You Are
- Our Garden
Final Thoughts: Easily the best girl group mini-album we’ve seen so far this year, ‘Neverland’ is an excellent encapsulation of everything that makes cosmic girls such an interesting group. And while the album didn’t have a track as strong as I-Yah (then again few songs are even close to this) or even Luckitty Cat, each song managed to be incredibly enjoyable in their own ways. Pantomime is easily one of the strongest and most obscure tracks we’ve seen this year and tracks like Hola point towards a much more bombastic and melodically driven girl group sound that’s all but gone extinct. Considering 2020’s track record, ‘Neverland’s existence is a miracle in itself. This is the 4th album in a row that Cosmic Girls have knocked it out of the park and they don’t look like they’re slowing down anytime soon.
Album Rating: A