Since 2009, T-ara has incorporated eight different women, released a dozen albums, had some of Korea’s biggest dance hits, and won the Fan Army Face-Off on multiple occasions. But things haven’t been easy for the K-pop girl group, which found its career suffer due to internal turmoil between members in 2012 at the peak of T-ara’s popularity. Earlier this year two members left the act, leaving the group as a quartet to release what is expected to be their last album ahead of the expiration of their contracts with their label, MBK Entertainment, in December.
Released on Wednesday (June 14), What’s My Name? features three tracks, including the titular single, that are performed by all four members, while each of the women — Eunjung, Hyomin, Jiyeon, and Qri — are also featured on their own solo track.
“What’s My Name?” is a summery synth pop track that begins with breathy vocals and a low-key snapping rhythm before building to the utterly danceable chorus. Compared with some of the group’s most popular hits (“Roly Poly,” “Lovey Dovey”), “What’s My Name?” shows a more mature side to T-ara, prioritizing vocal delivery over catchy beats. But, in typical T-ara fashion, the single still offers up a hook-heavy chorus reminiscent of their most addicting hits.
The album contains two other group efforts, the retro funk throwback “Reload” and the ballad “20090729,” which references the day T-ara debuted. The focal point of What’s My Name?, however, are the four solo tracks. Qri’s sultry alt pop track leads into Hyomin’s refreshingly upbeat “Ooh La La,” which in turn runs into Eunjung’s R&B-tinged “Real Love.” Jiyeon’s pop rock melody “Lullaby” brings the album to a close, aside from a Chinese language and instrumental alternate version of the title track.
What’s My Name? is a solid show of the group’s strength and the individuality of the foursome. Originally planned as a May release, T-ara returned to the studio as a quartet after Boram and Soyeon departed so as to re-record the album’s tracks even as Korean media reported that they would disband later this year.
Though their future is precarious ahead of the contract renewal, the members didn’t say anything definitive regarding their prospects during a recent showcase performance in Seoul. ”A lot has happened in the past eight, nine years,” said Qri, according to the Korea Herald, “But we’ve felt like we don’t want it to end… We don’t yet want to let it go.”