[Review] Absence – Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

Despite all the Mamamoo members being active as solo artists in the first half of this year, we have yet to see the members together. They did say that they will be focusing on solo activities for the first part of 2020, from memory. But there was no indication for how long. Let’s hope we get one in the second half of the year (I am sure we will!). In the meantime, the members do continually treat us with new solo releases. For example, yesterday, Moonbyul dropped her repackaged mini-album, 門OON, which features the new track, Absence. This repackaged album features all the songs on Dark Side Of The Moon, including Eclipse.

I am genuinely surprised with this comeback. It is another side of Moonbyul that we have never seen before. And that is the beauty of solo releases. They give us different profiles of the singer, some of which will never be shown when they promoting with their original groups. Eclipse gave us a very dark and edgy side of Moonbyul. And Absence gives us an emotional Moonbyul. The instrumental is a bit standard to my ears. There are elements in Absence that reminds me of a ballad, such as the really emotionally charged vocals and the classical setup that forms part of the instrumental. The song does infuse some trap beats into the background, giving the song that ability to bring a dance to the performance (more on that in a bit). And it is this combination that allows the song to come off as moody and somewhat dull. What I really like about this are Moonbyul’s vocals and the song’s melodies, which helps steer the song away from that feeling. She gets more opportunities to show her vocals off in this song. The showcase of her vocals have been on the rise, but this is something we have not heard from her. You can hear the heartbreak in this song through vocals, which is definitely a sign of a good vocalists. And to know that this vocalist is more commonly known for being a rapper is something. As the song builds, her vocals become more powerful and I quite like this. Her nasally tone is very appealing. I also like that bit of rapping she throws into the song. Cliche and typical, but still quite nice. Actually, that summarises all thoughts I have on Absence in a short manner.

For this review, I will be combining the music video and performance sections of the review. The music video is a performance video, as stated in the title of the official music videos. There is a number of closeups of Moonbyul singing into the camera throughout, so essentially it adopts a closeup and choreography formula. I did like the black and white filter that was placed on majority of the video. It added to that moody nature of the song. It also added to the dullness, but I feel like that was a positive for the song, as it allowed Moonbyul and the dancers to be the pure focus of the video. And as a performance video, there is a greater focus on the choreography. And the choreography is quite fitting of the song. The song doesn’t really allow for any impressive moves to come forth, but I really liked the speeds of the moves. It is relatively slow and smooth, but there is a balance that allows it to become powerful. My favourite part has to the bridge of the song, where the dancers become like waves. I thought that was a stunning moment in the entire performance.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Album Review] Dark Side Of The Moon (1st Mini Album) – Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

It is time for another album review (and I am in the process of drafting another one for Sunday!). As you can see I am busy catching on album reviews that I should have published weeks ago (major hint for the next album review). As you can also tell from the title, I will be reviewing Moonbyul’s very first mini-album release, Dark Side Of The Moon. It features the title track Eclipse, which was also released on the 14th of February 2020. Moonbyul has since wrapped up promotions for her solo release (which is another reminder of how overdue this album review is). So without further delay, here is my album review!

Dark Side Of The Moon Album Cover

1. Eclipse (달이 태양을 가릴 때) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Eclipse. (9/10)

2. Mirror – When there is a choreography routine, the vocals and rapping are usually ‘reduced’ in KPOP to facilitate a flawless routine by the artist. And Moonbyul’s Eclipse is no exception, especially since the choreography was very powerful. Mirror, a song about the realization of the need to let go in a relationship, zones right into Moonbyul’s rapping and vocals, layered on top of a very soft and delicate R&B instrumental, filled with piano and synths to add definition to the song. I really liked how Moonbyul went into a higher tone for the end some of her lines. It really creates an interesting melody and also demonstrates more of Moonbyul’s range. Her rapping gave the song some edge and the way her rapping was packaged was perfect for the softer tone. (9/10)

3. ILJIDO ILJIDO provides the album with a little more light-heart nature, which was definitely absent through the two songs preceding. From what I understand, the song is about wanting more in life. I find the song to be very well balance and I think Moonbyul’s huskier vocal tone was very fitting for this song. The song features another light instrumental and featured a jazzy instrumental break. Prominently featured in the instrumental are flutes and I believe they sampled Hwasa’s Twit, as the flutes here sound very similar to the latter song. I do think the song is a little safe and traditional, but it is still pleasing to listen to. (8/10)

3. Moon Movie – How awesome is Moon Movie? I am declaring this is the hidden gem of the album, even before we dive into the song. Kicking it off is a really alluring piano piece that replays throughout the song. The track’s beat is equally as alluring. The combination of all makes this track stand out in my opinon. As mentioned many times previously, I am not a major fan of the hip-hop genre. But Moon Movie delves into the genre in such an appealing fashion that I cannot help but enjoy it. Moonbyul’s rapping is so rhythmic and it just pulls you into the song even more. (10/10)

4. Weird Day (낯선 날) (ft. Punch) (Pre-Release Track) – We get a simple jazzy instrumental in Weird Day. It is then paired with the sweet vocals from Punch, along with Moonbyul husky vocal tone and soft rapping. And you effectively have created a really amazing track. The track shows how versatile Moonbyul can be, a key skill needed in the industry nowadays. The melodies are really nice and the track is very peaceful to listen to. The only problem, it goes by so quickly despite it going for 3:15 minutes. Other that, I liked this pre-release track (9/10)

5. Snow (눈) (Pre-Release Track) – We end the album with a ballad that was first unveiled in December. And this is a beautiful ballad that focuses purely on Moonbyul’s vocals. I like how Snow manages to incorporate some rhythm to the song, as if Moonbyul is rapping. The harmonies with the backing vocal really make this a strong track. I was going to say that the song feels very versatile, but the Winter theme kicks in later in the song in my opinion, which restricts it to only the Winter season. If it didn’t do that, I think I would have given the song a slightly higher rating. But it is still amazing nonetheless. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

Dark Side Of The Moon Teaser Image

[Review] Eclipse – Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

Apologies for the 3-day late review. I know I promised the reviews would only be a day late last week, but I took some time off over the weekend as I needed to recover from a lack of sleep. One of the reviews that were meant to be published on Saturday is Moonbyul’s solo comeback, Eclipse. The Mamamoo rapper and vocalist made her solo comeback back in 2016 with Selfish (which featured Seulgi from Red Velvet). It has been a while since we heard any solo work. I do need to warn you. If you are expecting something along the lines of Selfish, I would quickly change those expectations now.

Why would I lead into the review with a change in expectations? Well, Moonbyul goes full blast with Eclipse. We have never seen her like this. Not in Selfish and definitely not as part of Mamamoo. I think the relevant way of it saying it nowadays (Internet jargon/slang is not my thing) is that ‘She snapped’. The song has this intense trap-based dance instrumental as its backdrop. While this is typical in the industry, the way the song manages to come together makes it sound epic and helps breathe new light into the style/sound. There are also some smaller details such as the song’s slow down moments (which provide relief from the intensity) and the deep voice in the background during the chorus that helps with this. We see a mixture of Moonbyul rapping and singing in this song. I won’t describe this as an extension of what we have seen so far. Not when she raps with such intensity and her vocals shine through thanks to the raspy nature of her voice. I feel like Moonbyul created her own identity through Eclipse, far away from what we are used to. The song itself is also catchy and has a nice rhythm, which appeals straight to my tastes.

Talking about ‘sides’, Moonbyul presents two sides of herself in the video. I think the first is Moonstar, which is represented through the white outfits and her much lighter makeup. The second is Monster. This side of the artist is presented by the black outfits and heavy eye makeup. I definitely thought this was a very strong concept. Two sides of an artist has been visited before. But this one feels a lot more fulfilling once you finish watching the music video. I am not usually a fan of the flashy nature of music videos, but I thought it was very well used in this video and helped with the intense aesthetics.

I liked how despite the fact that Moonbyul still had to rap and sing throughout the performance, she delivers with her moves. No moves stood out to me. But I thought it was a cool performance, regardless.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.9/10

[Double Review] Selfish + In My Room – Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

Moonbyul made her solo debut 2 weeks ago. Clearly shows how ‘up to date’ I am. But once again, better late than never. Moonbyul is Mamamoo’s well-known rapper (and starting this year, vocalist). The main title track is Selfish, which also features Seulgi from Red Velvet. The two previously participated in Idol Drama Operation Team. Furthermore, I have decided to include In My Room, which also had a music video (hence the review).

Selfish is a nice song that does bring a smile to your face. The song is quite melodic and slowly paced (but not too slow), which makes it pleasant to listen to. When rappers released solo songs, they are usually fierce and energy packed in the way the lines are delivered. However, Moonbyul’s solos tracks are one of the few examples that don’t really conform to that. Seulgi’s vocals in this song pair well with the soft nature. But my favourite part in the entire song is the harmonies, particularly in the final chorus. It is clear that Moonbyul can sing (as seen through her group’s releases this year). But there is something about the harmonies that has me falling in love with the song. Overall, it is quite good.

In My Room takes on an R&B approach. In this song, she takes on both the vocals and raps herself. Though, there seemed to be a male singer featuring in the middle of the song, who didn’t seem to be listed on any of the tracklist or information that I could dig up. I like her vocals in the song and when she changed to rapping as well. The instrumental was also quite nice, which gets me swaying along to the music. Sadly, I don’t find this song as memorable as Selfish was. However, it was still pleasant to listen to and showcases Moonbyul’s talents in a much more softer manner.

The two music videos are polar opposites. Mainly due to the atmosphere the song creates. Selfish’s video was more fun-filled, while In My Room was more emotionally centred. The message of the Selfish video can be seen clearly throughout the video (see the English translations for the song) but I really liked the comedic approach they took in some of the scenes (e.g. the kids intimidating and getting the singers’ money).  In My Room seemed to conform to that typical R&B visual, with the darkness and nightlife scene. On top of that, I thought the loneliness that Moonbyul was easily experienced just by watching.

Selfish
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

In My Room 
Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7/10