Sistar19 is a Sistar sub-unit formed by Hyo Rin and Bo Ra. In 2011 they released a hit digital single called "Ma Boy," which appears here on CD for the first time, but they're only now releasing their first physical single with the appropriately entitled Single Album Volume 1.
The single begins with an intro track called "SISTAR19." It basically consists of the girls singing "la, la, la, la, la" over and over again with bits of guitar in the background. The first proper song, "있다 없으니까 (Gone Not Around Any Longer)," begins with the sound of a phone ringing then the girls gently sing "oo, ooo" while one of them whispers something on the phone in the background and we hear a sharp piano line with shimmering horns in the background and a nice, hard programmed beat. Before they even start singing the actual lyrics, the production team known as Brave Brothers, who've produced all of Sistar's hits, have already sucked you deep into this trippy, intoxicating track, painting vivid pictures of things like steamy nightclubs and hotel parties. And the girls' vocals are soft and sultry, fitting the mood of the music perfectly. They practically whisper their way through the whole thing, velvety smooth, seducing the listener.
The second track, "나도 여자인데(A Girl In Love)," is more of an urban R&B song, though it has a dark vibe that fits nicely with "Gone Not Around Any Longer." It also has a hip-hop element with some dudes saying "yeah" and occasionally grunting in the background, which I definitely could have done without. Unfortunately, these dudes almost ruin the song. If the production wasn't so lush and slick the guys would have rendered it intolerable, but the superb production and the girls' sexy vocals save the day. Just barely.
The final song is "Ma Boy," which is a pleasant mix of pop and dark R&B with heavy, pounding beats and a well-used clapper. This track also has a hip-hop vibe, but, thankfully, the girls are doing the rapping here, with a guy in the background merely exclaiming "hey!" a few times. As for their singing, they harmonize perfectly and otherwise split the vocals 50/50, working very well together as a unit.
The single concludes with an instrumental version of "Gone Not Around Any Longer." It's worth a listen because it makes you appreciate just how exquisitely-produced the track is. -Michael McCarthy