Album Review: Mamamoo – “Melting”

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Leading up to their first full-length album Melting, Mamamoo had built up a reputation for being a group of talented vocalists who, while not braving new paths in music or even trend-hopping in any discernible way, could put together a soulful sound that stood out on its own. For the most part, Melting builds on Mamamoo’s past success. The overall album doesn’t dazzle or reveal anything that the group hasn’t showcased before but Melting is enjoyable from front to back and it does a good job of displaying the the basis of the group’s appeal.

Pride of 1 cm

Review is here. As an album starter, “Pride of 1 cm” seems like an odd choice because it doesn’t really serve as a “mission statement” or introduction for what follows. Nevertheless, it’s a fun song and it would likely seem even more out of place anywhere else on Melting so starting off the album with it was probably the right move.

Words Don’t Come Easy

A soft R&B song resplendent in acoustic guitar, saxophone and light snares, “Words Don’t Come Easy” sails by with all the gentle smoothness of a warm breeze. Mamamoo’s accentuated breathy vocals create a sense of intimacy that is only broken up by an out-of-place rap break that sounds a bit forced. Still, for filler, “Words Don’t Come Easy” is enjoyable mood music. Listening to it on the album only feels slightly odd because it’s sandwiched between “Pride of 1 cm” and Mamamoo’s energetic lead single.

You’re the Best

Review is here. Basically, this is a really good introduction to Mamamoo’s capabilities. “You’re the Best” is just the right mixture of bright pop and funk/soul that takes full advantage of Mamamoo’s considerable vocal talents.

Friday Night featuring Junggigo

“Friday Night” more or less picks up where “Words Don’t Come Easy” left off. Another sunny R&B track, “Friday Night” manages to be slightly better than “Words Don’t Come Easy” thanks to the pseudo-duet sound that the track achieves thanks to Junggigo’s inclusion. The song also does a pretty great job of subtly building to a crescendo. Orchestral strings, a rap verse that adds additional energy and Mamamoo’s closing interaction with Junggigo all work to “Friday Night’s” benefit even if the song ends somewhat abruptly.

Hometown

“Hometown” represents the first real lull in Melting. It’s not bad but the beat’s use of guitar licks and laid-back percussion and Mamamoo’s raspy vocals are things that are already pretty front-loaded in the album. It’s not bad by any stretch and Moonbyul’s rap does a lot of work but “Hometown” simply doesn’t stand out in any memorable way.

Emotion

The old-timey vinyl recording effect and swirling strings that start off “Emotion” shows potential but the meat of the song doesn’t do much with that anticipation. Make no mistake, Mamamoo sounds great as “Emotion” requires a stronger pop sensibility that the group tackles proficiently. The track simply lacks a catchy hook or riff to structure the song around.

I Miss You

Review is here. Like a lot of songs on Melting, “I Miss You” doesn’t do much with its genre template but Mamamoo’s belting more than makes up for the average production.

Funky Boy

This is the first non-promoted Melting track that sounds like it has some life to it. The production takes a much more aggressive approach in “Funky Boy” and, if nothing else, the added energy is a welcomed breath of fresh air in the sea of light R&B that typifies Melting.  Hard-hitting horns, distorted synths and thumping percussion give Mamamoo a formidable sound to play off of and the group responds with a strong spirit that alternates between a graceful lightness and a confident swagger that is pretty perfect.

 Recipe

“Recipe” is an odd mixture of jazz and hip-hop that ends up sounding impossibly charming. The fact that Mamamoo can pull off an old-fashioned blues track isn’t surprising but the production’s woodwind riff that works as an acutely catchy hook in and of itself is devastatingly effective and, with the help of the bass and the sampling of Mamamoo’s own vocals, helps modernize a quaint but still thoroughly enjoyable sound.

Cat Fight

If “Recipe” was a modern K-Pop spin on the jazz, “Cat Fight” is a much more faithful interpretation of old jazz music. The fact that “Cat Fight” is placed right after “Recipe” is a helpful comparison tool and demonstrates how Mamamoo can tackle variations of a genre with success. However, while Moonbyul absolutely brings it, “Cat Fight” is a bit too straight-forward and, by itself, it lacks a twist that allows for it to stand out. (However, to the song’s credit, it does work as a wonderful 1-2 punch in conjunction with “Recipe.”)

Just

“Just” basically brings Melting full-circle. Like so many tracks on Mamamoo’s first full album, the production doesn’t wow, leaving most of the work to the vocalists. “Just” certainly doesn’t disappoint in that regard. Full-blown bellows abound and the song achieves just the right balance between its soft moments and its climaxes.

Girl Crush

In some ways, I wish that “Girl Crush” and “Just” swapped places on Melting. “Girl Crush” has a light but frenetic tempo that is certainly a fine way to end an album but it doesn’t necessarily “represent” Melting as well as the slower, vocal-rich “Just.” Still, ‘Girl Crush” is pretty nice, and it definitely helps keep Melting from relying too heavily on the R&B-soul notes that Mamamoo parades through the album.

Overall, Mamamoo’s Melting is a good freshman album. The quartet definitely stick to their comfort zone and there are more than a few filler tracks to go around but each song is easy to listen to thanks to Mamamoo’s undeniable talents behind a microphone, even if the production is a bit lacking a times. There is little doubt that Mamamoo can sing with the best of the genre. Hopefully, the group is able to hammer down a specific sound to call their own in future albums down the line.

Stand out tracks: Pride of 1 cm, You’re the Best, Friday Night, Funky Boy, Recipe

Meh: Emotion, Cat Fight, Just, Hometown, Words Don’t Come Easy

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