Whether intentional or not, SM Entertainment has established a template for debuting their newer girl groups. Open with a big, colorful dance track and follow up with a cover of a late-90’s/early 00’s Yoo Young-Jin produced song. This combination worked wonders for Red Velvet, but both Happiness and Be Natural were dynamite songs. I liked aespa’s Black Mamba just fine, but Forever (약속) is a real snooze, effectively blunting any momentum they may have been building.
The one positive I can say about this track is that it offers a better opportunity to showcase aespa’s vocals. They deliver many of those patented Yoo Young-Jin runs, making the track feel more like a tribute than an unveiling of their own musical color. But, the girls sound assured and polished throughout. Unfortunately, Forever mostly circles the same melodic territory over and over again without ever breaking through. The song is aptly titled, because it seems to stretch on without end. It’s at least a minute too long, but a strong climax might have made the payoff worth the bloated running time.
Curiously, the entire package has been given a Christmassy makeover. Last time I checked, we’ve currently entered the month of February. And, what might have played well during the holidays feels a little disjointed as we look toward spring. But, the entire aespa rollout has been confusing so far, from their awkward AR personas to these contrasting singles. I guess we just have to assume that SM knows what it’s doing – or at the very least is simply too big to fail.