Compared to the rest of her bandmates, MAMAMOO’s Solar is still right at the start of her solo journey. Aside from the soundtracks of K-dramas, some covers and a handful of collaborations, the singer’s sole piece of her own material came in 2020 with the refreshing and addictive single ‘Spit It Out’. Now, she’s adding more bricks to her road with her debut mini-album ‘容 : FACE’ – five tracks of low-key unpredictable R&B and pop that give us more of an idea what her individual career might look like and contribute some dazzling new additions to our playlists as summer creeps closer.
There are surprises aplenty on ‘容 : FACE’. Sometimes they appear subtly, like the EDM flourishes that creep into the final throes of ‘Chap Chap’. It opens with an almost Parisian feel that dissipates in seconds and sings adoringly of someone with an existence that’s “just [like] an angel”, before the big synths and beats come sparkling into view.
At other times, they appear with bombast and make themselves unmistakably obvious, as on ‘Big Booty’. From the title alone, you might expect a fiery rap track full of attitude and sexy spirit; instead Solar gifts us a big band jazz song dedicated to sizeable derrières. “Big booty, big booty / Oh big booty,” she croons sultrily on its chorus. “My lips keep going / Hi there.” It’s a spectacular case of thinking outside of the box and highlights the musician’s eccentric side in endearingly surreal lyrics like, “It’s smooth, it’s chewy / I don’t know how to explain it.”
When she’s not trying to manifest her own “big booty” through song, Solar takes us into more romantic zones, encapsulating the playful beginnings and complicated later stages of a relationship. The former is expressed through the title track ‘Honey’, in which the star dabbles in a cat-and-mouse game with a potential lover. “If you lower your guard thinking I’m already yours / You’ll hurt yourself bad,” she sings on the alluring R&B track, adding later in a rapped verse: “Try me, see if I fall for you / Be careful, your gaze is dripping honey.” It’s cool, fresh and beguiling, and a perfect soundtrack for a holiday flirtation.
‘Zinggle Zinggle’, meanwhile, takes us deeper into a relationship, setting up a partnership that pushes and pulls between good and bad. “Really do love you, right,” Solar gently insists on the chorus. “We’re breathtaking every day.” But, soon after, she’s questioning, “Why are you acting the other way? / Let’s make an unnecessary fight” and searching for answers that could change the course of her love life (“Am I lucky that I met you? / Tell me, I wanna know”).
A record of balmy bops, ‘容 : FACE’ captures Solar’s energetic, bright and breezy personality well. The rap verse on ‘Honey’ is a particular highlight that showcases her dynamism, while the mini-album as a whole pops with little vocal details that subtly elevate the songs. Although it shines brightly as it is, it feels like it could gleam much more powerfully if some of its tracks were extended – particularly opening track ‘Raw’, a potential club banger that fizzles out after being given just over one minute to make its mark. Hopefully that’s something Solar will pay more attention to as she continues down her solo path but, for now, her debut mini-album is a positive step forward.
- Release date: March 16
- Record label: RBW