November’s “Decalcomanie“ felt like a watershed moment for MAMAMOO, giving them one of their biggest hits (and choruses) yet. It was always going to be a hard act to follow, but the group has an advantage this time around. After hits like “Um Oh Ah Yeh“ and “Mr. Ambiguous“, MAMAMOO have become somewhat synonymous with endearingly playful summertime fare. “Yes I Am” arrives at just the right moment.
Like the girls’ personality-driven persona, the song is a bit all over the place. On first listen, few hooks are able to free themselves from the chaotic energy that overtakes the track. In the space of three-and-a-half minutes, the listener pinballs from one element to another without a moment to process. MAMAMOO have had an improvisational charm since the very beginning, and “Yes I Am” feels like a song designed to capitalize on that specific aspect of their style. The instrumental takes their throwback soul sound but augments it with elements of tropical pop, filtered sweeps of electronics and a very 80s vocal hook. Add a constant underbelly of ad-libs and runs, and you’ve got a dense brew of competing interests.
Further listens help tease out more of the song’s charms. The vampy chorus is not among the group’s strongest, but it does a nice job showcasing their unique vocal character. Better are the free-wheeling verses, which are driven by a dynamic arrangement that keeps the melody in constant flux. The fact that there’s a surprise around every corner will likely give “Yes I Am” the same kind of staying power that MAMAMOO’s other singles have enjoyed, even if its lack of focus prevents it from becoming a classic.