Spica is one of Korea’s latest girl groups, gaining attention from debut for being a group with powerful voices. They debuted with the single 독하게 (Doggedly), in which the music video for the track featured labelmate Lee Hyori as the main focus. They had received a lot of praise from media writers and from listeners who enjoyed both the single and their voices. They then went on to release their first mini album Russian Roulette which I am going to review today.
The mini album opens with the ballad 화 (火) (Anger/Fire), a song with an instrumental focus on a various stringed instruments (including a harp sounding instrument and guitars), piano and percussion. The vocals begin sounding very light as if they float over the other instruments and a depth is created with the variation of volume between the instruments and the vocals. The power in the song builds up in the chorus both in the vocals and the instruments playing which showcases a lot of emotion. A beautiful, rather ethereal song that also showcases a lot of power. Definitely my favourite on the album and I feel that it acts as a fantastic opening to the mini as it shows their vocals off in a song that suits them very well.
Up N Down comes in the form of a much more upbeat song. Starting off with slightly high chord progression combined with some filtered vocals. The song then kicks in with a darker beat and vocals that have some effects on them that sing a rather fierce melody. The effects used on the vocals in this song do something to add to the feel of the song and don’t take away from the girls’ vocals a great deal, so it’s basically a good use of using effects for songs to make them better as an addition. The chorus is incredibly catchy and the harmonies within it are fabulous. The whole song pieces together to sound like a really strong dance track that isn’t too samey with other pop songs. This is tied with 화 (火) as my favourite song on the mini album.
The second track, which is also the title track, is 러시안룰렛 (Russian Roulette). The song was produced by Sweet Tune who has produced the likes of Nine Muses’ last two singles Figaro and News, Infinite’s Be Mine, Kara’s Mister and Rainbow’s A. So if you are familiar with those songs you will be familiar with the style that Sweet Tune produces and you can expect to hear that style within this song. Combining pop/disco and slight rock elements together to create a rather retro and strong sound to the song. Russian Roulette is a song that is catchy and allows space for vocal power and emotions to come through. I love the falsetto note that one of the members sings near the end but I felt a few vocal runs in that range could have added a little bit more of an impact to the ending. But nonetheless, a song that I really, really enjoy and I think is quite a good title track from this mini.
Beginning with a catchy repeated section of “oh oh oh” is No More. Another song that has a dance sound to it that has an ostinato of the melody from the beginning oh’s playing within the background for the majority of the song. The song is catchy and I really enjoy the song as a whole. Instrumentally it doesn’t have something that sets it out too much against the others but nonetheless I find it a great song. The vocals sound fantastic as they do on each of these songs and there are parts of the song that I really enjoy.
일기장 (Diary) is the penultimate track on Russian Roulette and is another ballad song. The song begins with the sound of rain, an empty sounding piano being accompanied by speech which then later builds up into a fuller section of music. Harmonies are not long to follow and the melodies and the chord progression during the 20 seconds that come before the verse kicks in are absolutely stunning. The song is quite a strong ballad song that I feel certainly suits their voices very well and the fact that the chord progression from that beginning section I love so much is used throughout various parts of the song. It’s a very pretty song with a lot of nice harmonies that I find very calming to listen to.
The last track is 독하게 (Doggedly) which was their first single and was released about a month prior to the mini album coming out. The song has a very mellow ballad sound to it along with slight r&b elements within it. The chorus is very strong and the verses have really nice melodies that are sung really nicely. When this was initially released I enjoyed it as it was a ballad and the girls had lovely voices, however I wasn’t entirely sure on my thoughts on it as a whole and I guess now I’m still not very sure. I do like this song and I think it was a good introduction to them and their voices. My favourite part is probably the first verse as it’s quite empty with only a piano and the vocals which are allowed to shine.
In general, I love this mini album to pieces and I have found myself listening to it quite a lot recently. I’m quite fussy with groups and for the majority of the time I want a group of strong singers (though I can deal with one or two being weaker as it will usually be the case) and these girls fit that perfectly. The first two tracks along with the second last one are the songs i would recommend from this mini to listen to if you haven’t yet. I shall be keeping my out on them for sure and I hope they release a lot more in the future as they have voices that are far too good to go to waste and not be heard. 4.5/5 for this mini album for sure.