Girls' Generation's second Japanese album burst onto my mp3 player in the middle of last week with a selection of quality pop tunes that's left me a little dazed. Until now, I've become accustomed to being somewhat disappointed by SNSD albums. Their singles promise a world of catchy choruses, while the album usually serves up large portions of fillers.
But not this time. For whatever reason, the quality control on recent SNSD songs has been turned up to ten. I was very impressed by SNSD sub-group TaeTiSeo's album and I'm relieved that this has carried on to the main group.
Not every song is golden, though. After the first track (which is about spiders and butterflies, apparently) there are two fairly anonymous tracks. It picks up again with "Reflection" and then after "Stay Girls" it doesn't put a foot wrong, despite probably being performed in absurd high-heels doing a synchronised dance routine.
"Boomerang" is like "Paparazzi"s younger sister, containing a similar number of "boom"s in the chorus. "All My Love Is For You" is my favourite track on the CD and "Oh!" is given a bit of a polish for its re-release, but it's the final two tracks "Peace and Girls" and "Not Alone" really hit the high points and convince me to send my mp3 player straight back to track one to experience the whole thing all over again.
It's tempting to see this album as a step forward on SNSD's march to global domination. Looking at the song writing credits, I note a heavy international influence, with songwriters from Sweden, America, Nigeria, South Korea, Japan and the Netherlands. Its healthy sprinkling of English in the choruses indicate the direction they seem to be heading.
But despite all this, there's no international release. Surely in this day and age, it's not too much trouble to put out an album on download only, just to test the water. But apparently it is. The only way for me to throw a few coins into SNSD's hat is to buy an over-priced import CD, or "The Boys" single,which has an unappetising seven version of the same song.
Maybe the Korean album in early 2013 will be downloadable for us in the West? Or will I have to wait for the fabled English release later next year..?