MAMAMOO are one of the few girl groups that I don’t like. Even though I enjoy the odd single here and there (“Ahh Oop,” “Um Oh Ah Yeh”), the girls still annoy the hell out of me. They always make me feel like I’m listening to leftovers from Christina Aguilera’s Back to Basics. And for a vocal group, their campy concept is nowhere near as appealing as the cool edge of Brown Eyed Girls or the sex appeal of SISTAR.
I was all geared up to hate their latest album, Purple, but I’m actually really enjoying it. The cherry on top is that the title track, “Yes I Am,” is beating BLACKPINK on the Korean charts!
Producer Kim Do-hoon, who does most of MAMAMOO’s music, is behind “Yes I Am.” I was getting sick of hearing the girls scream over jazzy instrumentals, so I’m glad that they’ve finally done away with all that pesky ‘real’ music stuff and served thumping electronica with touches of disco and eighties pop. The bridge drops into a hip-hop breakdown, but it works because it’s brief – PENTAGON tried something similar on their new single “Critical Beauty,” but they overplayed the sound by making it the entire chorus, ruining the song.
“Yes I Am” is for sure the gayest thing MAMAMOO have ever done, and it really works. The gays love a strong female vocal over a glittery dance beat and MAMAMOO could become formidable rainbow divas if they serve up a few more songs like this in the future.
Speaking of gay, Purple’s second track “Finally” is like an old Ariana Grande b-side that the hunties would stan after deeming the rest of the album too urban. (My last housemate, the biggest cliche ever, would listen to “Into You” on repeat all day but always skipped “Side to Side” and “Let Me Love You.”)
Elsewhere, “Love & Hate” is the kind of safe and smooth R&B-tinged pop that makes up so much of K-pop filler, but it works. However, the jazzy “Aze Gag” is the kind of goofy retro thing I specifically DIDN’T want to hear from MAMAMOO again, so bye.
Purple wraps up like most idol albums do: with a big ballad. These are always hit and miss, but MAMAMOO gets it right on “Do Ra Do.” Wheein is the only member present for this, teaming up with the honey-voiced Jeff Bernat for a stunning duet. The pair sound gorgeous crooning along to candlelit strings and cocktail piano.
I’m not quite ready to become a MAMAMOO stan just yet, but Purple is definitely a step in the right direction.