Nearly two years after releasing their full-length debut -- a lifetime in the K-pop world -- global superstars BlackPink return with their sophomore LP, Born Pink. Hardened and more experienced, the eight-song set brims with the confidence and intent accumulated over years of dealing with fame, the spotlight, and detractors. Without any immediate dance-pop ravers like "Ddu-Du Ddu-Du" or "Boombayah," Born Pink opts for big bass (and big flexing) hip-hop bangers in the form of "Pink Venom" and "Shut Down," which reintroduce the world to Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa atop callback chants of "BlackPink" and "BlackPink in your area," reminding listeners of who they're messing with. The mischievous "Typa Girl" takes the boasts and empowerment even further, explicitly shutting down haters and rude boys with quotable lines like, "I bring money to the table, not your dinner." Having set the stage with this emboldened opening trio, they expand their sonic limits with rock-leaning standouts like the new wave-esque "Yeah Yeah Yeah" -- co-written by Jisoo and Rosé -- and "Hard to Love," another stadium-ready rocker that transforms into blissful pop complete with introspective lyrics, thick bass groove, and disco handclaps. Meanwhile, the midtempo "Tally" shows once again that BlackPink can't be contained with explicit declarations like "I say f*ck it when I feel it" and "I do what I want with who I like." Considering the level of typical K-pop sanitizing and label control, this honesty and relatability are refreshing and impressive changes of pace. Amidst the edginess and aggression, Born Pink also includes the pensive piano ballad "The Happiest Girl," a vulnerable heartbreaker, and "Ready for Love," the closest they come to a "classic" K-pop sound, sparkling production, horn flares, a massive singalong chorus, and all. Aiming for an even wider international audience, the English-heavy Born Pink matures BlackPink with stronger production, more personal lyrics, and a bold conviction that cannot be contained.
Born Pink Review
by Neil Z. Yeung