Though new debuts by k-pop groups are always exciting, I’d argue that their follow-up release is even more important. When making a first impression, investments are high. But the real test is whether a group can keep up the quality, especially when it comes to rookies from small agencies. MASC impressed with debut track Strange last summer, and they were smart to keep the same producer and composer for the newly released Tina. With just two title tracks, they’ve quickly established a unique sound for themselves.
Though Tina (티나) isn’t quite as melodically potent as Strange, it retains the rock influences that made that song sound so fresh within the idol scene. Its chugging funk guitars recall Maroon Five in their earlier days, giving the song just enough edge to stand out. Though Tina adheres to a familiar boy group structure, complete with rounds of sing-songy rap and swaggering chorus, its unique instrumental touches give it a classic, throwback vibe. It’s funny to think that the mid-00’s could now be considered “throwback,” but it’s probably a smart move to start mining this particular decade before it becomes trendy.
Tina‘s verses shine a welcome spotlight on the members’ vocals, which really drive the song. In the age of 10 or 12 member groups, it’s refreshing when a track gives ample time to actually hear and distinguish individual members’ tones. None of the guys in MASC are lacking in charisma, but it’s rapper Ace’s tone that caught my attention most. I’m actually surprised that he’s listed as one of the group’s rappers, because his delivery of the song’s melodic verses feels incredibly strong and assured. With only four members in the group, it’s promising that they each seem to be such multifaceted talents.