[Review] MAMAMOO’s Moonbyul revitalizes boy group tropes on “Eclipse”

Mamamoo’s massive success has spawned equally popular solo offerings from its members. This time last year, Hwasa unveiled the addictive Twit, which ended up being one of 2019’s most enduring hits. This time around, it’s Moonbyul’s turn. She’s back with her second mini album, which sees her trying on a different style for title track Eclipse (달이 태양을 가릴 때).

These past few months have taken too many boy groups down a darker musical route, resulting in a very generic slate of songs. Interestingly, Eclipse would fit right in with these tracks, despite being performed by a female soloist. It’s rare to hear this style outside of the moody boy group oeuvre, but it kind of works. It helps that Moonbyul has a great songwriting team behind her. Eclipse brings together RBW Entertainment’s stable of composers and Monotree’s Inner Child. They find ways to pull this tired trap/EDM brew in new directions, bringing in rock guitar and pushing Moonbyul’s talents further than the quirky idol rap she usually delivers.

Eclipse’s instrumental may be overly stuffed and noisy, but it’s my favorite part of the song. The heavy bursts of percussion remind me of A.C.E’s excellent Under Cover, and the klaxon-like synth blends well with the squeals of guitar that filter in and out of the track. Melodically, Eclipse’s chorus feels better suited for a power vocalist. Moonbyul’s limitations are definitely on display here. But, the refrain is otherwise solid and memorable from the first listen. Even better is the aggressive pre-chorus, which approaches death metal in its warped delivery. It’s a delightful surprise from Moonbyul, who I never would have expected to release a track like this.

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IATFB says: Moonbyul effectively answers the question, “What would happen if a female soloist did one of those hyper masculine boy group songs?” The result is … pretty good, actually. I agree with TheBiasList on the limitations of it, mainly due to the solo aspect but partially due to Moonbyul as well, but the instrumental during the chorus resonated with me. A pleasant surprise from Moonbyul, if nothing else.

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