Since debut, Mamamoo’s sound has changed quite drastically. Looking back, I think the turning point was 2018’s Starry Night, which went on to become a big hit for them. From that point on, most of their title tracks have rejected the big vocal moments that characterized their first few years. In their place is a sultrier appeal to trends. But, I can’t help but long for past glories, and new single Aya just rubs that in.
In many ways, Aya feels like a sequel to Hwasa’s solo track Maria. Yet, this time the producers have forgotten the hooks. Aya is oddly amelodic. Sure, the girls are singing – sort of. But, the song flits from one line to the next without any real purpose. I feel like I’ve used the words “sing-talk” often this year, and Aya is a great example of what that approach sounds like. So much of the track is composed of random vocalizations, interspersed with the occasional refrain. It’s not enough to maintain interest, and forces the girls into a very affected performance. Gone are the crisp harmonies and power vocals of their best work, replaced with a kind of mealy-mouthed singing that sounds as if they’re swallowing all their words. I don’t get it.
Aya doesn’t really have a chorus, either. In its place is an underwhelming instrumental drop, which feels rehashed from too many other songs. It lands with a thud. The track would be better off harnessing some of the energy from its percussive finale, which is jarring and messy but at least has a pulse. Instead, Aya remains underwhelming all the way through, which is not something I’d expect from one of the industry’s hottest groups.