Album Reviews, MuuMuse Approved, New Music

Wonder Girls’ ‘Reboot’: The Other Excellent ’80s-Themed Pop Album Of The Summer

Now that we, the members of the global village, have come to the general consensus that Carly Rae Jepsen‘s E•MO•TION is The Best (I refuse to hear anything otherwise), it’s time to finally acknowledge that other music exists.

Wonder Girls, the fierce K-pop fivesome foursome (for the time being) — who also managed to make history by notching the first-ever hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart by a K-pop group with “Nobody” in 2009 — is back after a 3-year hiatus with a brand new style and a brand new beat. In fact, they’re being branded as a band now, as opposed to a dance group. Don’t stress out about it, though: Just because they’re all now brandishing instruments doesn’t mean the music isn’t still totally tailored for the dance floor.

A “brand new beat” is sort of misleading too, since the girls actually time-travelled their way back about 25 years ago to the days of big-haired freestyle queens like Alisha (educate yourself with some “Baby Talk”) and Corina (“Give Me Back My Heart”!) with their ’80s-themed REBOOT, a thoroughly impressive sonic restart.

“I Feel You,” the troupe’s lead comeback track, is a vintage synth-pop dream on VHS, complete with keytars, sleek workout bodysuits and wink-wink nostalgia items of yesteryear. As it turns out, multi-instrument bands can pull off choreography — in stilettos, no less! When will Coldplay? The girls’ deadpan expressions throughout the video only help to accentuate the ferocity. They know they’re slaying. (And yes, this video does begin by entering through a vagina.)

But as it turns out, the breathy lead single is just one of the many killer cuts from the collection.

Right out the gate, punchy opener “Baby Don’t Play” sets the throwback tone for the rest of the album amid bright synth pulsations. And then comes “Candle,” an amazing, Shannon-esque catchy electro cut. (“Li-ight, li-ight!“) It’s also surely the best song sung by a self-professed candle since Beauty And The Beast‘s “Be Our Guest.” (“I’m your candle…“)

The album carries a cohesive sound throughout, even while bouncing through the eras: “One Black Night” feels like Real McCoy-meets-Xenomania in space, while “OPPA” is kind of like Gwen Stefani‘s “Bubble Pop Electric” as interpreted by the B-52’s. Truly, the production is b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

The album’s not a straight-up revival of dance-pop, either: “Rewind,” a twinkling R&B midtempo, adds a nice, mature touch to the record, as does the super sensual “GONE.” There’s also the sleek, lounge-ready vibes of “Faded Love” and “Remember,” a super emotional ballad which definitely sounds like a K-drama theme in the making. And for those who are (or aren’t) feeling all the midtempo and slow jamz, the girls have graciously tacked mostly all of them to the very end of the LP. Party playlist-friendly!

It’s all so, so great — a comeback actually worth the coming back. At last!

Here’s hoping they give us they dig even further into the vinyl crates and give us some Robin S. and C+C Music Factory for the next round in a year.

Also, #WonderGirlsComeToAmerica!

REBOOT is currently available on iTunes and streaming on Apple Music, because THE GLOBAL MUSIC REVOLUTION IS NOW.