A “Step” Up for Kara *UPDATED WITH FULL STEP AUDIO!*

One of the few of my previous (and perhaps still current) biases in kpop has finally marked their return to the Korean music scene with the release of their 3rd full album, STEP. For those readers that have stayed with me from the very beginning, many of you can quickly conclude that that group is none other than pop sensation Kara!

The girls have been riding it high on the popularity scale in their home Korea, and stealing the hearts of the Japanese on their overseas excursions. With a string of hits ranging from the sugary sweet Honey to the retro electropop dance beats of Jumpin‘, it’s hard not to follow suit and love this group release after release. Although the group hit a major roadblock of sorts with company disputes from DSP Entertainment, the problem has been seemingly resolved and the group has already released their Korean comeback track and album, ready to win fans over some more!

The first track from their STEP album is a mere introductory track entitled “EY! OH!” From the sound of the title, as well as the introductory beats and powerful bassline, one almost gets the impression that this album strays heavily from Kara’s previous sweetly pop tunes, opting instead for a more in-your-face crunk attitude that one would naturally tag on fellow kpop group 2NE1. Looks can be deceiving, of course.

Since YouTube decided to take down all the full audio uploads of Kara’s second and title track off the 3rd album, ya’ll are just going to have to settle for the teaser video. I’m slowly but surely coming across uploaded videos, so please be patient. The song “Step” kicks off with a strong Caribbean reggae-ish beat takes prominence and the group’s signature fun, yet eclectic dance trend continues. This track definitely marks a fresh transition into a familiar genre of music, offering fans a summer feel as the final days of the season are drawing to a close. It’s fresh, it’s hot, and I love it.

Or click here for the full audio! Unfortunately, it’s not a youtube link so I cannot embed.
http://www.tudou.com/v/6z8BHoZ_W_0/v.swf

Riderwill be included once I get my hands on a youtube video. Lookin for a fierce track to start up your day? Look no further than track #3 because it’s got the beats you’re craving for!

The fourth track “Strawberry” will strike a nostalgic chord with veteran Kara fans. The song follows the general arrangement of the songs from their first album and first two mini albums. The track is so saccharine sweet and soft, paired tastefully with the obligatory electrobeats that heavily dominate the kpop scene. Scattered throughout the track are rap segments from the members, which keep fans on their toes as the track makes rapid transitions from sweet singing to a heavy popped up chorus line. The nostalgic factor that comes with this track will be what wins fans over.

따라와” offers a stronger and auto-tune heavy flavor for those fans craving a more poppin’ dance beat. If fans were getting sick of the achingly poppy and sweet jpop tracks these girls were releasing, well this is the track for you! It’s a lot more on the fierce side, almost along the lines of their previous track “Lupin” and a more auto-tuned version of maybe even their debut song “Break It.”

Date/My Boy” returns to the familiar Kara that fans grew to love. Once again taking elements that were very prominent in their first few releases as a group, this track is an upbeat and sweet track that’s very easy on the ears. Although nothing too special, the melody the girls carry complimented by the subtle piano in the background is a lovely touch. The song itself has no particularly strong highlight that would otherwise make it a stand out track.

The following track will definitely be a treat for the long-time Kara fan. When the song was first released, I fell in love with it immediately. The instrumentals mixed with the girls beautiful delivery vocally was what made “나는” such a treat for me. With this album, the girls remastered and revived the song with an acoustic twist. The instrumentals are no longer as powerful and demanding of our attention, allowing us to focus heavily on the girls’ vocals. Had anyone any real doubt of the girls’ vocal capabilities, well, listen to this track and doubt no more. I’d love to see the girls perform this unplugged version live one day.

Kara 4 U” is the outro track for the album, and is the song that fans will recognize as the track that is featured on the series of teasers the group released for their comeback track “Step.” Nothin’ much to say about this one.

If fans were displeased with the lack of ballads in this album, hopefully the final track “Dear Kamilia” will appease your souls. Once again, the girls’ lovely vocals are beautiful complimented by a more prominent piano melody. And if the sheer aesthetic quality of the song was not enough to win you over, perhaps the message the girls deliver through their lyrics will. One can only speak so much until their words just cannot express one’s feelings as well as we would like any longer. So just listen to the song below.

I suppose I should applaud Kara for delivering yet another wonderfully constructed album. The nostalgic factor delivered through tracks like “Strawberry,” “Date/My Boy,” and especially “나는” will be a key factor for reeling in former fans that the group might have lost along the way, or whilst on their journey of conquest in Japan. Their more powerful tracks like “따라와” were a nice change from the typical jpop pop tunes that have been filling our ears left and right ever since the girls left their mark on the scene. And thankfully, none of these songs reminded me of 70s workout track music. And finally, there was “Step,” the absolute stand-out track in the entire album. Kara will have quite a bit of competition this month from the likes of SNSD and Brown Eyed Girls, but I have a feeling that with this ace up their sleeves, the will have no trouble holding their own against their fellow kpop juggernauts.

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