Review: Call It Love by Briana Marela

Call It Love by Briana MarelaIf you’re coming in expecting another dreamy record from Briana Marela, well, not this time. Call It Love may still have the hazy signature of her previous work, but it’s definitely her synthpop record. Everything bounces, everything bites – not aggressively, but perhaps you can call it that considering what came before. It’s nice how she contorts nicely to the punchier sound she’s adopted – halfway through the album it all feels natural now. It provides an interesting tug between both extremes, and you don’t feel lost. What seems to be lost, however, is the message. It seems you’ll have to work a bit more to get to what Briana is trying to say – and then you’ll have to wonder if, in this case, she’s telling a story she’s intimate with, or just reading out of a script. Well, clearly it’s still her perspective, somehow, but with that taking a back seat… are you supposed to just lean back and let it all snap? [NB]3/5

Review: Holiday Night by Girls’ Generation

Holiday Night by Girls' GenerationWell, of course Girls’ Generation will not suddenly reinvent themselves on Holiday Night. Their (relatively) experimental era, which kicked off with The Boys and ending right around the time Jessica left the group (and “Catch Me If You Can” was released), won’t be coming back any time soon – a listen to their last album, Lion Heart, says as much. (Want them to go modern pop? Listen to their solo releases.) Thankfully it’s not a bunch of terrible songs, either. Holiday Night is their tenth anniversary release – ten years is something in K-pop, a world of seven-year contracts, if not bust-ups from groups failing in varying degrees. There is a vibe of celebration all over, which means relatively pedestrian, yet still enjoyable, songs. (“All Night” gets stuck in your ears.) It doesn’t feel like a look back, although there definitely are concessions to the sound the group launched with in 2007 – a bit retro, a bit pure, but now with an edge that they’ve definitely earned. That’s how you set the template, I guess. Come to think of it, just change the image a bit and you have songs perfect for Red Velvet. Now that’s a group that needs a shot of inspiration. (I didn’t review their latest release, Red Summer, because I had five other reviews that week – that, and I gave up on their slow downward spiral.) I don’t begrudge S.M. for keeping these songs for their biggest girl group, but, you know… [NB]3/5

“Are you there, Eugene?”

“Hey Eugene” by Pink Martini | Because I feel like going slightly jazzy to end this week (and to usher in another week-long break), here’s some Pink Martini. It’s a band that’s not exactly about jazz, but more classic pop, which can be my thing depending on the mood, really. It’s another one of those songs I have tucked away on some list and have forgotten about. All right, I might be running out of songs to write again. Maybe that’s why I need a break. (That, and it’s customary. That, and it’s work.) But here’s an interesting one about a fleeting love, lost, or forgotten. Perhaps that’s what we have right now, you (the blog) and I (the blogger). [NB]

“You’ve been running in my veins for days.”

“Creep In Slowly” by Gold Key | This song gives me shades, some, of Matt Bellamy. I don’t know why. It doesn’t hold for much long, giving way to the crunchy guitars and strong drums. (Although that can provide some shades of Muse, too.) Gold Key is a new four-piece from Watford, and “Creep In Slowly” is their new single, just dropping last week, in time for the release of their debut album Hello, Phantom on 6 October. Perhaps it’s me and my narrowing playlists, but this was a good change of pace – and one that made a good impression. Brought me back, in a way, even. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“Qu’est ce qu’on peut bien faire de mieux.”

“Et puis juin” by Rose | I’ve been sitting on this song for months – by that, I mean I have a screen cap of the song’s title on my phone (I streamed it from Option Musique, as always) waiting for the time when I can write about this. And then I forgot, and here I am. It’s nice listening to this song again – a light, bouncy, frothy thing, quite breathy, not exactly alluring but magnetic enough. There really is a French style I cannot quite get a grip on. Rose is her stage name – Keren Meloul, actual one – and she’s been singing for the past decade or so, only launching into music after a stint as a teacher. Basing on this song alone, I see the connection: it feels whimsical but a closer translation of the lyrics suggests something grounded, something more realistic. It was nice to chance upon this again. [NB]