[Review] MAMAMOO’s “Hip” represents a sensible progression in their sound

Fresh off their success on Queendom, MAMAMOO are back with their second title track of 2019. This has been a fruitful year for them, particularly Hwasa. Her name has been lodged at the top of the K-pop brand reputation lists, and her casual but quirky energy has become synonymous with the group’s appeal. MAMAMOO have always had an effortless coolness to them, and they’re at their best when they find a way to harness this without gimmicks or goofiness. New single “Hip” is their strongest in a while, vibing off the group’s indelible charm.

“Hip” pounces with a tight arrangement stuffed with hand-clap percussion, elastic synths and swoops of strings. It finds its groove early on and rarely lets go, offering a hiccupping rhythm that’s as nimble as it is sly. The entire track feels like one winking grin. It’s playful without being silly, and that’s largely thanks to MAMAMOO’s assured performance. Rather than reach for big power notes or acrobatic runs, the members deliver a restrained, breathy purr that traces the edges of the instrumental without attempting to dominate it.

This tautness of melody threatens to become monotonous, as “Hip” loops back to the same refrains over and over. A series of Moonbyul-fronted rap verses helps to break things up, but the song never builds to any real crescendo. This structure reminds me of disco, where a pulsing, continual beat was often more important than dynamic builds and drops. However, MAMAMOO are charismatic enough to maintain interest throughout its entire running time, and the song’s slinky allure never becomes tiresome. This will become another deserved hit for them, and feels like a smart progression of their trademark sound.

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