With a confident aura and an ability to attempt (and succeed) with any genre, Moonbyul proves her ability to pursue a successful solo career with the release of her most recent mini album, 6equence. The album consists of six tracks with a variety of genres ranging from hip-hop, to pop, to R&B, as well as an English version of the hypnotic title track, “LUNATIC.”
Although one fourth of MAMAMOO as the main rapper, she strives to separate her persona in order to stand alone and showcase her artistic depth. In an interview with The Korea Times she expressed, “In hindsight, I was mostly hidden from people’s view. Many of them just recognize me as a MAMAMOO member, not as Moonbyul, but after putting out my solo releases, I finally felt that I also have an identity as Moonbyul.” She continued on to explain how although grateful for the opportunities her group gave to her, at times she feels confined to their musical identity. “MAMAMOO’s reputation gives me a heavy burden in almost every way, but I am most pressured when I have to prove myself with my music.”
Kicking off with a transformational introduction, “Intro: SYNOPSIS” establishes the album’s theme of love and heartbreak. A soft guitar sets a calming tone, slowly evolving into an electronic sound as Moonbyul shares her frustrations and concerns regarding her love life. She admits, “I keep trying to write/ But you keep trying to erase,” which represents the beginning stages of heartache when pining for someone that doesn’t desire the chase. The one minute 38 second introduction manages to include an array of emotions with the mix of speeds and instrumentals.
Taking a hard turn, “G999 (Feat. Mirani)” provides a nostalgic aura with funky sounds from the 90s. The atmosphere of the track feels young and free, illustrating the emotions and light-hearted feeling that love has the potential to provide. The late-90s hip-hop sounds make for easy listening as she sings, “My life was so boring/ But you livened it up/ I know how you feel even if you don’t say it’s pointless falling for anyone else.”
While “G999” represents the fun, youthful side of love, “Shutdown (Feat. Seori)” represents deep connection and the more intimate side of a relationship. Teaming up with artist, Seori, the duo creates an intricate ensemble that intertwines Moonbyul’s deeper, raspier vocals with Seori’s delicate and light tones to illustrate desire amongst a push and pull relationship. The lyrics, “Set my cold heart on fire/ It’s fine even if you mess me up,” shows the passion and intensity experienced. The use of the English pronouns “she” combined with the aura and atmosphere of the music video hints towards a sapphic relationship, a still very progressive concept in South Korea. The R&B heavy tone complemented by the lyrics embodies the feeling of being face to face with an unknown future, but enjoying every second of it.
After the slower “Shutdown (feat. Seori),” the title track “LUNATIC” gives some aural whiplash. The melodic speed switches between songs producing a perfect segway into this track to personify the disorientation that can be experienced when not knowing how to handle or process feelings felt for another. Moonbyul expresses her frustration with, “I’m so wish-washy 12 times a day/ I’m so changeful/ I know it’s not because of you/ But I lose control/ I only get mad at you.” Knowing herself as someone that enjoys being in control, the realization that her emotions lie in the hands of another creates frustration and irritation to the point of feeling crazy. An eccentric music video displays Moonbyul confined to the walls of a psychiatric institution to amplify the message that love drives people insane. Magnifying the measures taken to revive a dying relationship, she fakes an accident in an attempt to win over her partner through sympathy. Taking a turn for the worst, the plan results in her landing in a psychiatric hospital, but instead of her recognizing the lengths she has gone and attempting to get help, she tries to break free to return to a relationship already perished.
“For Me” forces the album to take a screeching pause to slow down and reflect on the past and her current feelings. Describing a relationship gone south, she regretfully looks back at things said and most importantly, things unsaid. With remorse she sings, “You know how strong my pride is” and “With your words, ‘let’s stop now’/ Me only being able to say ‘yeah, let’s do that’/ That me is pathetic,” describing the relatable situation of letting pride and the thought of winning an argument lead to the biggest loss of all, losing someone.
Rounding out the album, “ddu ddu ddu” offers a smooth, sorrowful track describing a one-sided heartbreak. Unable to wrap her head around what to do or her feelings, she states the melancholy lines, “What can I do?/ That’s how love works/ That your heart abandoned its place.” “ddu ddu ddu” holds a similar feeling to the introduction track, insinuating the story has come full circle.
6equence beautifully embodies the different stages and moments experienced in love, both positive and negative. Moonbyul’s ability to express raw emotion and vulnerability allows for personal power and skills to shine throughout each track. A collection of relatable lyrics and diverse sounds reveals Moonbyul stands ready to take off on her solo endeavor.
Make sure to stream 6equence on all streaming platforms!