Release Date: March 7th, 2018
- ‘From Winter to Spring (Intro)’
- ‘Star, Wind, Flower, Sun’
- ‘Starry Night’
- ‘Be Calm (Hwasa Solo)’
- ‘Rude Boy’
- ‘Spring Fever’
- ‘Paint Me’
Total Runtime: 00:21:47
Recommended for: EDM lovers; people who like stripped down ballads; anyone who is ready to appreciate a vocally-driven album
NOT Recommended for: people who don’t like the aforementioned genres
- From Winter to Spring (Intro)
There isn’t much to say about this. It is not really a full song as it only lasts for 20 seconds. Nonetheless, the acoustic snippet in the beginning would have been a solid track. The MV scenery is beautiful, though!
- Star, Wind, Flower, Sun
I mentioned above that “From Winter to Spring” would be a good track, well this is it! It’s actually the exact same song. Surprise, surprise!
The vocal performances here are wonderful. Well, this is Mamamoo and so it is expected, but we must give credit where it is due. Even Moonbyul, who is the group’s main rapper, manages to add her unique vocal color. This adds a nice dynamic to the song’s melody, especially when the other three voices blend together. It is also a nice change, to have the rapper take on a different vocal style, as a rap would have ruined the song. All the members get to take turns harmonizing, sometimes in twos, threes, or even fours. Either way, the vocal performances make this song what it is.
The production is stripped down and laid back, relying on the piano to carry through the melody. That is not a bad thing, even though it is a staple of most ballads. The simplicity of this song does not detract from its overall quality, since all the individual parts are so well done. No one instrument overpowers the other. When mixed together, there is still a lot of room for the vocals to come through. This track does not pretend to be something greater than it is, and the performances from the girls makes this clear. It’s a regular ol’ ballad, but it’s an enjoyable one.
The music video is very beautiful. Many K-pop groups rely on CGI and artificial graphics for their videos but Mamamoo stand out from the crowd with this nature driven track. It might seem boring looking at just farmland, mountains, and a bit of the city life here and there, but it is so well shot. The transitions between scenes are superbly done and the contrasting colors are not jarring to the eyes. In fact, the music video’s greatest asset is the sheer amount of colors present in each frame. With the song being a ballad there is no choreography. Instead, the viewer focuses on the girls doing some really mundane things – like getting ice cream, and being silly on a cross walk. However, this actually makes the video more enjoyable as their personalities shine through. Whoever directed this deserves a massive pay raise. It’s absolutely gorgeous!
- Starry Night
When I first heard that Mamamoo would be doing an EDM track, I was a little scared. Their discography, from debut, has been heavily jazz influenced – sometimes with a bit of pop mixed it. I was not sure how this track would fare with the rest of their catalog. But I must say, “Starry Night” was a wonderful surprise. Its production value is not any different from regular EDM tracks, but it is still well produced. Each separate musical piece is something I’ve heard from countless songs in the genre, but Mamamoo pulls it off, and “Starry Night” is not boring in any way. The song is well constructed and shows that Mamamoo’s discography is diverse enough to cover different genres. It’s not like anything they’ve released before, but it still maintains that signature Mamamoo sound that is hard to put in words.
In proper Mamamoo fashion, the vocals are the best thing about this track. Each member shines here. In some Mamamoo songs, Wheein and Solar sound very similar, especially to people who are not familiar with the group such that they can pinpoint the individual members. Moonbyul is a standout in this track, as she shows that she can keep up with her vocally talented teammates. Her rap towards the end is pretty nice, though I cannot say much about it – in the grand scheme of things, it does not stand out. There are some really nice moments of harmonization. The individual members still get to be the main focus, even though they share some parts.
Like the previous track, “Starry Night” is shot outside. This is one of the best K-pop MVs I’ve ever seen. There is so much color in each frame, even in the members’ clothes. The styling for each member focuses on the background scene, which adds to the visual experience. The transitions are so smoothly done, even with vastly different locations. There are some really nice effects, too; one example is in a scene with magenta-colored grass. Several minute details also add to the overall theme of the track. One scene features a translucent moon on a sunny sky. Several dark and starry frames are present in the MV, and are sandwiched between scenes with a lot of greenery.
This is Mamamoo’s best effort yet and I would like to see more K-pop groups go in this route. Sometimes a walk through nature is needed to give us a break from the overproduced music videos that many K-pop artists are putting out. “Starry Night” was a joy on the first listen and gets even better each time. It one of my favorite Mamamoo title tracks so far, which is saying something as they have released nothing but quality in the 3 years since debut.
- Be Calm (Hwasa Solo)
“Be Calm” is a great song to showcase Hwasa’s vocal abilities. She sounds softer and sexier in it, as compared to the group’s songs. It is almost indie-like and it appears that Hwasa utilizes the common indie vocal intonations in parts of this song. It has a sweet melody and is perfect for the Spring weather, and can even work in the summer. If one wants to take a long drive down a highway with their windows down, “Be Calm” is the song to listen to!
- Rude Boy
I would not expect trap to be mixed with a seemingly acoustic ballad, but “Rude Boy” exceeded all my expectations. I really liked Moonbyul’s rap in this. She hasn’t rapped in any of the songs so far – well she did but it was very short. She sounded really good here and her rap is organic and flows with the song. The RnB feel to this is so calming, and enhances the trap beat in the background. Mamamoo is a group that can try many different genres and make each one their own and “Rude Boy” is definite proof of this.
- Spring Fever
“Spring Fever” is another acoustic ballad that is so fitting for the weather, but it doesn’t scream “listen to me in the spring time!!” like some songs are prone to doing. I got a bit of a Zion T/Crush vibe from this song. The vocal effects in the background are really well done. The verses and the chorus flow well together, and there are enough interjections throughout the song to prevent it from becoming a monotonous bore. The rap is also so organic here, even when coupled with the vocalized parts of the other three vocalists. Although this is titled “Spring Fever” it can work in the summer and autumn seasons too.
- Paint Me
“Paint Me” is the last track but was actually released in January. This is a ballad and so one should expect lots of piano, guitar acoustics, and vocal harmonies. As is with literally every track on this album, the vocal performances are very well done. Some of Mamamoo’s pop tracks do not really showcase their vocal capabilities – or dampens them in favor of flashier instrumentals. “Paint Me” works because it is simple and allows the members to take center stage in order to showcase their individual strengths. The production is very simple, but it is still excellent. This track is solid enough to be the title track, but “Starry Night” was probably chosen as it is more marketable. “Paint Me” might just be the best track on the album, although “Starry Night” puts up a good fight.
The “Paint Me” MV utilizes simpler settings to convey a deeper message. The set is artificial but it is nothing too flashy and uses different color pallets to differentiate the members from one another. The styling is also really good, which is often an important part of enjoying a video. Mamamoo has really set the bar high. It will be interesting to see who manages to challenge them as the year goes on.