[Review] The sleek “I’m A B” relies on Hwasa’s charisma to carry it

Mamamoo’s success has provided an equally successful launching pad for its members’ solo careers, with Hwasa being the biggest beneficiary. In addition to her solo music, she’s a regular on MBC’s long-running series I Live Alone, as well as one of the buzziest idols in the industry. She brings a sense of nonchalant confidence to everything she does, and that energy is hard to resist.

Yet her music has yet to live up to 2019’s wonderful “Twit.” Last year’s “Maria” proved to be a bigger grower than I’d expected, but too often Hwasa’s style feels overly subdued — her performance broiling under the beat rather than taking charge and laying it all on the line. “I’m A B” mines similar territory, but the track is sleeker and more focused than expected.

The title uses clever word play, with “” translating to “light” in English, yet pronounced the way English speakers would say “bitch.” This duality is fun, though I wish the music itself offered the same contrast. Instead, “I’m A B” drives forward on an insistent dance beat. It has the propulsive appeal of synthwave without being particularly synthy. The melody follows suit, with a deliberate structure that jettisons any extraneous bits. This is where the song’s sleekness comes into play. The transitions between segments feel quite smooth, especially as “I’m A B” coasts into its chorus. No single moment steals the spotlight, and this is both a strength and a drawback.

The song is very enjoyable, but doesn’t leave much of an aftertaste. And at just under three minutes, isn’t given time to build toward a memorable climax. Still, “I’m A B” sees Hwasa harnessing her inimitable charisma once more. She can make pretty much anything compelling.

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