Album Review: BoA – The Face
BoA ★ THE FACE
02 Sweet Impact
03 My Way, Your Way (feat. WISE)
04 be with you.
05 LOSE YOUR MIND (feat. Yutaka Furukawa from DOPING PANDA)
06 Girl In The Mirror
07 Happy Birthday
08 Diamond Heart
09 LOVE LETTER
11 ギャップにやられた! / Gyappu ni Yarareta!
13 Smile again
14 Beautiful Flowers
15 Best Friend
16 Hey Boy, Hey Girl (feat. BoA) / SEAMO (CD+2DVD Limited Edition Bonus Track)
Released on Feb 27 this year, BoA’s 6th Japanese original album, THE FACE, has already made history as her 6th consecutive (7th overall, including her BEST OF SOUL album) No 1-ranking album in Japan, only behind Ayumi Hamasaki with eight. BoA’s immense popularity can be attributed to her multi-lingual abilities – she is fluent in both Japanese and her native Korean – and her ability to appeal to fans of all ages, male and female, Korean and Japanese.
So what does BoA have up her sleeve this album around? Her singles prior to the release of THE FACE include the mid-tempo electronica-influenced "Sweet Impact," the not-quite-ballad but not-exactly-fast-paced "LOVE LETTER," the sexy and funky "LOSE YOUR MIND," and the heartfelt "be with you." Though these songs present BoA as the flexible and versatile artiste that she is, fans and non-fans alike have not been as impressed as they have been with BoA’s previous offerings (circa her peak with VALENTI). Her first post-MIT(20) single, "Sweet Impact," sometimes drags along with seemingly overproduced beats and mundane verses. What saves this song is its climactic chorus and, as seen in its promotional video, the Michael Jackson-esque (circa "Smooth Criminal") choreography. "LOVE LETTER" is a BoA ballad, straight and simple. Vocally, this song fits BoA’s range perfectly and her voice effortlessly moves the song along. "LOSE YOUR MIND" features guitarist Yutaka Furukawa from the J-Rock band DOPING PANDA and is BoA’s first single featuring another artiste. Furukawa’s influence, along with the American production of this song, has permeated the atmosphere of "LOSE YOUR MIND", a funky dance song backed with brass and subtle electronic/synth-ish instrumentals. Released only a week before THE FACE, "be with you." was used as a promotional track for the album, alongside a tie-up with the movie Inu to Watashi no 10 no Yakusoku. While heartfelt and gentle, "be with you." falters in that BoA’s vocals are exceedingly nasal due to the draggy nature of the song’s verses. The chorus almost climaxes out of nowhere and takes on a different feel from the song’s initial gentle, serene state.
As for the non-single tracks on this album, "AGGRESSIVE" has received the most hype as its electronic-dance feel instantly grabs your attention. BoA’s vocals are, just as the title states, powerful and aggressive, matching the production of the track. A great way to open up to an album with the greatest involvement from BoA herself. Of course, what’s a BoA album without a staple cutesy song? "Happy Birthday" is just the sweet treat to satisfy. Much like "七色の明日～brand new beat～" was to MADE IN TWENTY(20), this song offers a slight alteration to the album’s concept, though it is a well-presented and safe addition. On to another dance-oriented track! Simply put, "Style" exudes just that: style. With its Justin Timberlake-like beats and production and BoA’s vocals to offer a strong point of view, we are sure to be able to also "believe [BoA’s] style." One of my favorite tracks in this album is "Best Friend," which just happens to remind me of Wonder Girls’ "Friend" from their first album. BoA’s affections for her best friend are clearly heard, as her voice almost speaks to the listener. The simple arrangement, the memorable melody and harmonies, and the modern instrumentals all add up to a great final track for this album.
Overall, THE FACE offers a glimpse of BoA’s many sides (or faces, if you will). There is the strong, powerful individual, the love-struck, cute girl, the sexy, refined supermodel, the girl moving on with herself, and the always-there best friend. To combine all of these facets of one singer is remarkable and the connection sometimes works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but holistically, THE FACE is cohesive, full of scope, and represents BoA well. Here’s to another great year!
5/5 – Even if you’re not a fan of this artist/group this album is a must buy.
4/5 – If you’re a fan of this artist/group, you must buy this album.
3/5 – If you’re a fan of this artist/group, you might want to add this one to your collection.
2/5 – I don’t think a fan would even buy this.
1/5 – You might as well just flush your money down the toilet.