Volume Up, release on 4.09.12, is 4minute’s 3rd mini-album.
Things start off with 「Get On The Floor」, is what I would say is a long introduction song as an ad-lib goes “uh-uh-uh-uh~” and HyunA says “Get on the floor”. The instrumental is purely electronica and a bit of synthesizer coupled with sound effects (like screeching tires). Some actual lyrics are sung with a bit of autotune added though saying “Get on the floor” constantly is a bit irritating. Next.
「Volume Up」, the mini-album’s namesake, starts with a beautiful saxophone solo (which I love) coupled with electronica. There are a lot of ad-libs “ye-ye-ye-e-ah” and “oh-oh-oh-oh” which I don’t like. I’m also not really fond of HyunA’s lines in this song (in the bridge and her raps) and the chorus isn’t anything special either. Gayoon has the best vocals and lines in this song; everyone elses’ end up sounding a bit strained. As you might be able to tell, I’m not fond of this song, I think the saxophone solo and Gayoon’s lines are this song’s only good points.
「I’m OK」’s light, melancholic instrumental coupled with the girls’ soft vocals seems to me to bring out that almost hurt, but struggling to be strong mood. It’s interesting to hear the girls harmonizing together in the bridge; it’s something new. In the chorus they sing, “I’m OK, baby, are you okay?” There’s a male vocal that comes in during the third verse, acting as supporting vocals to the girl, which is nice touch, like they’re reassuring to themselves that they’re the one that’s okay and the other party isn’t.
A heavily synthesized 「Say My Name」 gives off a pretty heavy feel to it, the girls’ vocals almost (but just enough to sing above) being buried in the synthesizer. There’s an instrument and beat that plays during the chorus that reminds me of something Arabic? Maybe? (Having a brain fart because I can’t remember exactly what culture it is).
「Femme Fatale」 starts sounding like Say My Name immediately, with an extremely busy instrumental that sound almost like they’re boasting about them being a “femme fatale” (which is technically the point, once you hear “I’m so dangerous!” and “I’m mysterious!” later).
I’m pretty sure 「Dream Racer」 is just the Korean version of one of their Japanese singles? Well it follows the last two songs in having a really busy, messy instrumental. The verses does quiet things down, driven by a low instrumental (guitar?) instead. Things get busy again really quickly, however.
They end things with the dark 「Black Cat」, complete with heavy autotune and buzzing electronica. The girls sing in a dark, mysterious tone as the instrumental gradual grows, transitioning into the chorus as they sing, “I’m a black cat, a black cat”. I thought this song would be better, but I was disappointed as I continued listening.
I haven’t really been that impressed with 4minute lately and this mini-album is no exception. I’ve noticed this with Gayoon and Jiyoon but when they try to reach the high key and hold the note, in my opinion, it starts sounding a bit screechy mainly because it’s just that: them holding the note and nothing else. I would think maybe a bit of vibrato would sooth out the sound, but the high key can really grate the ears if not done a bit more elegantly. It might be just me, though.