As packed as October’s release slate has been, it’s been surprisingly short on girl group comebacks. Apart from Ladies’ Code and Limesoda, new group ARIAZ practically have the month to themselves. That’s a boon for their debut, as it helps them stand out in a busy market. And let’s be honest, any new act from the not-so-fabulous Star Empire Entertainment needs every leg up that they can get.
Debut single “Moonlight Aria” doesn’t knock me out, but it offers glimpses of potential that make me want to hear more. ARIAZ’s sound comes across as LOONA by way of WJSN, which is a pretty smart combination. “Moonlight Aria” borrows the trendy synths from the former and the mystical aesthetic from the latter. Its at its best when it leans into its more dynamic elements, like that sledgehammer, chip-tunes synth that opens the track. I’m less enthused by the swerving, off-balance electronics that underline the verses. But, this is no surprise. The song’s official description calls these moments “glitch hop,” but they sound more like future bass to me, and you all know how I feel about that particular sub-genre.
Luckily, “Moonlight Aria” is anchored by the same bombastic synth of its introduction, upping the drama directly after the catchy, titular hook softens things up. This production flourish is about as in-your-face as the track gets. Its melodies are oddly subdued, without one single refrain really taking precedence. In this way, the song feels like a straight line, lacking peaks or valleys. This structure results in a muddled first listen, but improves as you become more familiar with the song’s quirks. ARIAZ will no doubt release superior material in the future, but this is another promising debut in a year packed with them.
IATFB says: If this wasn’t a debut, I honestly probably wouldn’t care much. And the fact that Star Empire Entertainment will surely find a way to fuck this all up anyway still almost puts me in that category, but while this debut doesn’t necessarily pop, if they can build on it I can certainly see how their output would become worthwhile.