BoA – ‘Forgive Me’ review: a veteran artist blazes thrilling new trails

The “queen of K-pop” returns after two years with an EP that proves she still has exciting new roads to go down

We’ve seen many facets of BoA over her 22 years in the music industry. She went from the sweet, debuting 13-year-old in ‘ID; Peace B’ to the confident woman of 2020 single ‘Better’. One of Asia’s most cherished artists, BoA seemed to have done it all; what else could she possibly have in store? But the “queen of K-pop” does that title justice once more on new EP ‘Forgive Me’, which shines on its own while making memorable additions to an already bejewelled discography.

First of all, BoA is furious. The title track and album opener, written and co-produced by the singer, is a burning diss to haters and the narrow-minded folks that recalls recent headlines. Filthy guitars underline her raging vocals as she declares her own redemption: “I don’t need you to forgive me.” It’s a powerful introduction to yet another BoA era, a reminder of why she’s still a force to be reckoned with.

On the rest of the album, however, BoA softens, and the music takes on a more diverse palette. ‘Sketch’ and ‘Hope’, the two other tracks she wrote and co-produced, are mellow: While the former swoons in sweet city pop hues about the “love of my life”, the latter melts into a customary acoustic ballad dedicated to family, friends, and fans, and closes out the six-track collection.

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The slower half of the album – which also includes ‘After Midnight’, another dreamy acoustic guitar piece where BoA’s vocals take centrestage – is safer and comfortably suited to what she does best. Although they don’t offer much novelty to BoA’s substantial excellence, her charisma and skill prevent the songs from being boring.

The more vibrant half of the album, on the other hand, offers plenty of creative potential. In the nifty bassline of ‘ZIP(짓)’ – co-composed by South Korean singer-songwriter Saay, whose distinctive style shines through – BoA reminds us how her vocals are as pliable as her dance moves. She flexes high and low notes in an entrancing groove, repeating “zip, zip, zip, zip” and giving us earworms for days.

But the clear standout on the album is ‘Breathe’, where the thrilling energy and gritty atmosphere of ‘Forgive Me’ are finally matched, even though BoA burns for different reasons. As she rushes towards a love interest – close enough to feel their breath – she enthralls with rapping and a hit-and-chase melody that builds up relentlessly.

‘Forgive Me’ harnesses a furious energy that BoA is more than capable of pulling off, and refreshes expectations of what kind of artist she can still grow into. Angry BoA took two decades to show up, and it would be interesting to see her dive even more into the merciless flames of ‘Forgive Me’ and ‘Breathe’ on future releases. After all, BoA doesn’t need our forgiveness, much less our approval. Her past and present speak for themselves.

Details

BoA - Forgive Me

  • Release date: November 22
  • Record label: SM Entertainment
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