Nearly every song on Cignature’s debut mini album has a sound effect title, and that pretty much says it all. Nun Nu Nan Na, ASSA, Daldalhae, HingHing… we’re in full-on aegyo, nursery rhyme mode here. And, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. ASSA was a fun little concoction, comfortable in its own silliness. And if you’re a fan of Cignature’s higher-pitched, ultra-energetic performance style, you’ve got a new group to obsess over. For me, this approach is a major stumbling block, and blunts the otherwise interesting Arisong (아리송).
Sonically, Arisong has a lot to offer. Its kitchen-sink production fuses marching band beats with sweeps of synth and frantic electronic loops. I’ve always loved when K-pop goes weird, and Arisong has no problem stuffing all manner of competing elements into its taut pop structure. The noise becomes almost overwhelming during the track’s climax. There’s just so much going on. At times it barely holds together, and that cacophony can be enjoyable.
However, Arisong lacks two important elements. First, its melody is rather humdrum. With so much going on in the background, the song needs a killer hook to cut through the madness. What we get instead is serviceable, but mostly just the kind of chirpy sing-talk that’s better suited to channeling energy than developing robust refrains. Adding to this frustration, the girls’ performance is incredibly exaggerated. As long as Cignature continue to sing in this hyper-stylized style, I think I’m going to have a hard time connecting to their music. I get that the baby noises connect with some listeners, but I’ve always struggled with this approach. Given a more full-throated performance, Arisong might have been able to leapfrog over its melodic shortcomings and stand as a successful K-pop experiment. Instead, it’s too sweet for its own good.