I’ll keep this brief, as I listened to this album when I began working on my upcoming EXO review. I liked 4Minute’s comeback single and decided to give the rest of the album a listen… and I liked one or two other tracks.
Here’s a track-by-track review:
01. “Get On the Floor” – At 1:47 in length, the album opener isn’t a full track. Just a warm up song… which fails to do so. It’s a rather weak track and the hook sounds a little too similar to the one in “T.H.E” by will.i.am. – 1/5
02. “Volume Up” is the title track and the lead single:
When I heard Shinsadong Tiger was producing this track, I figured it would sound as an expected 4Minute track – he produced all their prior releases. But I have to give him special credit on this song. There’s a catchy saxophone hook that instantly draws you in, and underneath that is the standard keyboard hook you hear in pretty much every dance-pop song by Western artists these days. When the singing begins, it’s slow and then the beats rapidly speed up and everything just explodes in the chorus. Gayoon and Jiyoon, the two lead vocalists, soar with high notes and it’s an impressive musical mash-up you don’t see often in a K-pop song. Despite being a high-energy dance track, it still allows the singers to sing their hearts out. “Volume Up” isn’t a year-end award winner or anything, but it’s still a good song, and I especially appreciate Shinsadong Tiger’s idea of mixing it up musically. – 4/5
The MV, despite the grand set (which reportedly cost $132k to construct), pretty much comes off as a standard k-pop idol video. The members have solo cuts, group cuts, HyunA cut (still pushing the sexy concept huh CUBE?) and all the dancing is within the environments. Nothing special, and didn’t really care much for the ‘spooky’ concept.
03. “I’m OK” – After the high energy single, the pace slows down for the third track. The girls’ vocals are emotive, with HyunA sounding better on this song than she did on “Volume Up “. A good mid-tempo number with a catchy chorus. – 3/5
04. “Say My Name” – This sounds atypical of any of those girl group songs in K-pop, or even the Western girl groups from the early 2000s – very Euro-pop inspired (despite being an all Korean production). The beats are heavy but there isn’t anything that stands out… other than “Gurls, gurls, gurls”. – 2/5
05. “Femme Fatale” – So Britney-inspired, be it the title or the sound. The beats and chorus also reminded me of “Patron Tequila” by the now defunct Paradiso Girls. Not the most original track then. – 2.5/5
06. “Dream Racer” – The very first thing that any k-pop listener will say when they hear the song is: “2NE1!”. Produced by rock band The Koxx, it’s a good track, but you just can’t get Minzy’s line from “I Am the Best” out of your head as the girls sing the verses. The chorus and the overall sound still manages to be a little different from the standard k-pop formula, so overall it’s one of the better tracks on the album. – 3.5/5
07. “Black Cat” – You want standard k-pop fare? This track is it. Typical album filler material. – 2/5
CUBE Entertainment can be considered one of K-pop’s biggies. Home to B2ST, G.Na, 4Minute, A-Pink and other rising groups like BtoB, the quality of their musical releases have been fairly consistent, if not improving these pasts years. This being the first major comeback from a CUBE artist this year only whets my appetite knowing new music from the company’s biggest moneymaker (B2ST) is only a few weeks away.
Although I’m no huge fan of 4Minute, pretty much all their prior releases – “Hot Issue,” “Muzik” and “I, My, Me, Mine” have been great. “Volume Up” is yet another hit single for the girl group. I would have liked it if ‘sexy HyunA’ was toned down a bit, but whatever, CUBE’s obviously not listening. 4Minute’s ‘Volume Up‘ is a commendable mini-album that should please 4NIA’s and “Volume Up” the single should win the group some more new fans. But for me, aside from the title track, the rest of the album averages out to a collection of not-so-memorable tracks.
My final rating for 4Minute’s ‘Volume Up‘: 2.5 out of 5 (Average)