Song Review: Moonbyul (Mamamoo) – Absence

Solo releases can be a great way to uncover artists’ hidden charms – talents or styles they weren’t necessarily able to portray as part of their group. When it comes to Mamamoo, the quartet is packed with three power vocalists, leaving little room for Moonbyul to do anything beyond rapping. So, it’s not too surprising that her 2020 solo work would see her stretch her vocals. And though she’s not a singer on the level or Solar or Wheein, she can definitely carry a track.

February’s Eclipse was a great springboard for Moonbyul’s charisma, coming off as a boy group comeback performed by a female soloist. Absence (부재) digs deeper, but at the expense of musical invention. Truthfully, this is more in line with what I would have expected from a Moonbyul solo, but that’s not a good thing. Absence is a muted affair, driven by moody keys and lethargic trap beats. The production is trendy, but the song itself comes across as a classic, ripped-from-the-pages-of-my-diary ballad – the kind you’d hear on an adult contemporary station.

While this framework offers a satisfying showcase for Moonbyul’s vocals, I find the track to be a bit of a trudge to get through. Melodically, it takes no chances, hitting its marks without the spark of spontaneity. It’s emotive, but not in a way that pulls me in. I can’t quite put my finger on why this is. Moonbyul’s clearly feeling it, but I don’t know that the emotion is captured in a way that transcends the track’s relatively humble arrangement. Several listens through, and I’m left without much of an impression at all.

 Hooks 7
 Production 6
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7
 RATING 6.75

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6 thoughts on “Song Review: Moonbyul (Mamamoo) – Absence

  1. This release is flying so under the radar, it didn’t appear on any of my alerts on youtube, it isn’t on akp which is today’s something bts du jour, soompi is preoccupied with next month’s comebacks, koreaboo is back to listiscles, etc.

    That about characterizes the song too. It keeps itself under the radar, does nothing to lift itself above. Which is not to say it is unpleasant, or worse “pleasant”, its just a little too mellow of a groove and doesn’t take any chances at all.

    The dance has some nice moments. Because it is slower, it is closer to “port de bras” than “vigorous arm waving”. Also, it has been choreographed for actual live singing with nice, quiet movements for Moonbyul. Hopefully, we can see her sing it live, test out those pipes.


  2. I know this isn’t the best place to say this, but Golden Child are coming back in late-June. So this means that Golcha, Seventeen, Stray Kids, Twice, WayV etc.. are making comebacks in June. This also means we could see many of these groups going bright and summery and we could see the song of the year take place next month!

    Liked by 1 person

    • From your lips to every single K-pop agency’s ears!

      I’ll definitely be referencing this news in several posts throughout the weekend, but my goal right now is to keep expectations down because 2020 has burned me too often already.


      • For me personally, I don’t mind if most of the groups put out below-average singles. But if Seventeen or Stray Kids mess this up then I don’t know if I can take this any longer.


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