Album Review: CL gives musical lessons on self love, heartbreak and more in ‘ALPHA’
ALPHA is the debut studio album by South Korean rapper and singer-songwriter CL. Produced under her self-managed label Very Cherry, Alpha marks CL's first full-length work as a solo artist since her career debut in 2009. The album was preceded by the release of several singles, and was released on October 20, 2021. The first single ‘Spicy’ was first released on August 24, while the second single ‘Lover Like Me’ was released on September 29. ‘Tie a Cherry’ was released in conjunction with Alpha on October 20. The last track, ‘Let It’ was released on October 27 as an MV. Let’s take a deeper dive into the 11 tracks of popular soloist CL’ s album:-
The EDM flecked track begins with a narration from the renowned actor John Malkovich and goes on to a hyped/hip hop sounding instrumental with lyrics that are all about self confidence and owning her South Korean identity. Coupled with a simple yet impactful MV, the track is a great way to understand the rest of the album.
Accompanied with an electro-pop instrumental, the track dives into a painful heartbreak which can be heard in the beautiful vocals of CL. The drop chorus somewhat feels empty with not much in it. The song also goes on to become a way to increase self esteem post breakup.
The Korean word ‘cheok’ means to pretend. It feels like a diss track with the childish ‘la-la-la’ and the lyrics suggesting that CL is used to people pretending to be her because of her insurmountable success and original personality. Coupled with a hip hop instrumental and sliding vocals, this is a decent jam.
Beginning with an electro funk instrumental, CL reintroduces her vocals when she sings about being in a secret relationship but it sounds fun when the reggae beats are introduced, making it seem like she is completely alright being in the little world with her lover.
This track introduces a piano instrumental, a complete 180 from the previous songs. This track, in particular, had the old YG sound, like late 2000’s Big Bang or 2NE1. The rap adds funk to it but all that dissipates in the bridge when she creates some brilliant vocalisations.
The electro-pop instrumental coupled with trap beats, CL sings about loving herself and gaining extreme self confidence as she is precious in the world. The vocal pre-chorus added flair to the track and the rap kept it a typical CL song.
Trap beats and heavy war like instrumental is a unique combination but only something CL can pull. The autotuned rap and the repetition of the word ‘Paradise’ was the least favourite part of the track for me. It seemed as if she was convincing herself that she had found paradise.
With the beginning of the track being a hip-hop instrumental, it felt like a typical CL track but soon it brought about a middle eastern sounding instrumental, adding sparkle to the song. The lyrics were similar to the previous songs- self confidence and pride in her success.
This would be the most atypical of the album as it had a slow paced instrumental and is placed in a time right before breakup, when everything is slowly turning into a dumpster fire. Coupled with a simple yet impactful violin instrumental, the vocals shone throughout.
An older track, HWA was a famous track on self confidence and self love. The chorus had the lines for a Korean version of a children’s game ‘Hide and Seek’, adding uniqueness to her song. The hip hop instrumental and strong beats will make you want to dance along.
+ 5 Star +
Like HWA, ‘5 Star’ is relatively old but still holds a special place as one of the favourite CL tracks as it had everything- satisfying alt pop instrumental, vocals, lyrics that describes a sweet love story and the addicting chorus. The bridge where CL begs to live in the ‘fairytale like love’ tugs at our heartstrings.
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Which is your favourite track from the album? Let us know in the comments below.