[Album Review] Full Bloom (4th Studio Album) – KARA

As it is another Tuesday (though it is less than half an hour left until Wednesday where I am), it is time for another Past Album Review. Sorry for missing out last week (as that is why I took my break). The artist I had intended to review last week was KARA, so I am going to pick up from there. Going through their discography, I wanted to review a personal favourite of mine. Given that Full Bloom (their fourth studio album) already features two of my favourite tracks (the pre-release Runaway and title track Damaged Lady), I thought this would be a good opportunity to dive into that album. Full Bloom also serves as the final album for Nicole and Jiyoung, who both left the group early on in the following year after their contracts expired.

Full Bloom Album Cover

1. Runaway (둘 중에 하나) (Pre-Release Track)Runaway happens to be one of my favourite KARA side tracks ever. It is a little confusing to describe it in words. But I would say that it is a R&B-based acoustic guitar-centric instrumented track that has a feeling of a ballad, but it actually ends up being more of a soft pop track. It doesn’t develop into a full-on dance track. But it does pick up slightly and in such an elegant manner. Take the rap sequence we get in the bridge of the song. The rap sequence (brought to you by Nicole and Jiyoung) has quite a bit of heft and momentum to it, which would only work if a soft song had picked up to a degree. And while the song did do that, KARA managed to make the rap sequence feel natural and fit right in with the rest of the song. The song’s melodies and the members’ vocals were very memorable. Overall, everything was executed beautifully and starts the album on an amazing note. (10/10)

2. Damaged Lady (숙녀가 못 돼) (Title Track) – I previously made some comments in my review for Damaged Lady in regards to things I didn’t like. All of these items have actually grown on me and this has become one of my favourite KARA title tracks. Hence, I have decided to bump the original 7.5/10 rating to a 9/10 rating. Click here to read the original review of the Damaged Lady. (9/10)

3. 1+1 1+1 adds a Summery vibe to the Full Bloom album with its bright and sugary sound. This is in direct contrast to the songs preceding it, given that KARA goes with a more innocent profile with this song. I would describe the instrumental to 1+1 as pretty, as that is what the twinkling effects and light wavy synth come together to create. I find the melodies in this song to be quite sweet, but not to the extent where it would be overly saturated with sweetness and become cringy. I also enjoyed the vocals of each of the members, particularly Seungyeon who flourished during the chorus. Hara and Jiyoung handled the raps this time and they were well executed for this song. The only flaw in this song was the terrible English in the song, which often did not make much sense (e.g. ‘You want me best one thing alright’). (8.5/10)

4. In The Game – To me, In The Game is another strong offering from the group. There is one thing I do dislike about it. But for the most part, I enjoyed it. First praise goes to the instrumental. I liked the upbeat jazzy and funky nature of the song. I enjoyed the brass, which reiterates the funky nature that I just mentioned. Second praise goes to the vocals and (part of the) rapping. I specifically mean the singing vocals. The chorus was stunning and Seungyeon really knows how to pack a punch. I also like the way they sing the title of the song together, which adds to the appeal of the song. Nicole’s rapping in the second verse also adds to the energy of the song, which was fantastic. With most of the praises out of the way, I must turn to the one thing I dislike. I am talking about the ‘G A M to the E R’. It was whiny, unnecessary and was the biggest disappoint of the song. Other than that, In The Game is an awesome track. (9/10)

5. Follow MeFollow Me is what I would consider to be your typical side track. It doesn’t offer anything more than a pop sound. I must say that Follow Me is quite pleasant and this can go a long way, depending on the circumstances. Furthermore, I like the song’s consistency. It doesn’t dry out the song, given that the beat is nice. However, to me today, the song isn’t that exciting and pretty skippable. Their vocal work is warming, but not their most impressive display on this album. (6/10)

6. Smoothie – Pretty much the same thing can be said in Smoothie as in the previous song. I do find it a smooth track, but it doesn’t offer anything new or exciting. There is a jazzy vibe to the song, but it lies more on the R&B side of the spectrum. One positive aspect that I can pick up on is that their breathy vocals are quite nice and compliment the soothing nature of the song. But other than that, Smoothie is just another track on the album. (6/10)

7. 2Night – An upbeat number ends the Full Bloom era and it also serves as the final song we hear from Nicole and Jiyoung as part of the KARA lineup (Sorry for bringing it up!). It is a return to their more interesting and appealing side, as well. While 2Night doesn’t have any strong hooks to grab on to or memorable vocals draw me in, the song does have a easygoing funky 80s electropop instrumental that I enjoyed. Their light vocals work well with it. I do get a bit of a nostalgic vibe from the song, as this is a similar sound to a number of side tracks of KPOP artists that I used to enjoy (way back when I started this blog 9 years ago). (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

Full Bloom Teaser Image

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