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.
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