Thus far, Mamamoo have found success relying on roughly the same formula. Their title tracks fuse a kind of old-school, “let’s put on a show” energy with hooks that draw upon their formidable vocals. But as with any group, the time has come to try something new. Starry Night (별이 빛나는 밤) forgoes their big vocal runs and quirky asides for a trendier approach. It’s an interesting sound for the girls, and would have been a slam dunk if the songwriting was as engaging as the instrumental.
Drawing upon a repeated folktronica guitar loop for its core hook, Starry Night instantly sets itself apart from the rest of Mamamoo’s discography. This specific instrumental choice may not be generic within the world of k-pop, but Night‘s underlying structure that favors vibe over song is everything I disliked about 2017 wrapped in a neat little package. Its aversion to a proper chorus is maddening, even if the mood painted by the song’s production and vocal performance is beguiling in fits and starts. The thing is, Starry Night had the potential to be every bit as massive as a song like Sistar‘s Alone, but it just doesn’t choose to go there.
Instead, we get a gorgeously atmospheric series of aimless refrains. When the track seems as if it’s going to build to something more ear-catching, the instrumental pulls back with an over-reliance on that (admittedly killer) guitar loop. The word “aesthetic” gets thrown around a lot these days, but that’s exactly what Starry Night is. It’s mood music, and succeeds on that level. Now… for the next comeback Mamamoo need to expand this new sound and couple it with a song that’s just as enthralling.