The first North American album release by Korean dance-pop group Girls’ Generation (or SNSD), The Boys caps off SNSD’s five-year rise to stardom since their Korean debut in 2007, landing them a label spot with Universal—home to Lady Gaga and Eminem.
The titular track is the album’s flagship, and the song that SNSD is performing in high places like Jimmy Kimmel Live, but it’s one of the weakest songs SNSD has offered in a long time. One can’t help but wonder if the attempt to appeal to a North American audience will negatively shape SNSD’s music henceforth. The Boys suffers from choppiness, a flat chorus, and lacklustre lyrics in both English and Korean. Rapping is not SNSD’s strength, and it falls to two of the nine members (Hyoyeon and Sooyoung) to try and pull it off.
“Trick” and “Oscar” carry the album, showcasing SNSD’s talent and their gradual move towards a powerful, mature pop sound. They accomplish the sound well, and one wishes more of the album were like these tracks. Lead singer Taeyon’s vocal dexterity is out in full force with high notes in “Oscar,” and the other eight girls find moments to shine in its low pulse. The inescapable, put-it-on-loop “Trick” is a song that’s built to buoy SNSD’s renowned choreography while it dominates your playlist.
—Marri Lynn Knadle