K-pop girl group Aespa has been on a roll since their debut in late 2020. Following a year of virtual promotions due to the pandemic, Karina, Giselle, Winter, and Ningning are taking on 2022 full force. The girls performed at Coachella in April, held a special showcase for fans in Los Angeles, and just this week, spoke at the United Nations’ High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
It’s almost hard to believe that Girls is only Aespa’s second mini-album. The record features five new songs, “Girls,” “Lingo,” and “ICU,” along with pre-released singles “Illusion,” and “Life’s Too Short,” and includes everything one could want from an Aespa record– heavy synth beats, strong piercing vocals, visuals that don’t give you a second to blink.
The album starts off with bangers “Girls” and “Illusion.” The rap-heavy “Girls” can hype up any room and is an elevated extension of their previous lead track “Savage.” The chorus is almost chant-like, as if their heading into battle: “Follow us / Bow down / Keep an eye out / My skill / You’ll be surprised / Say wow / We coming.” While “Girls” and “Illusion” are closer to Aespa’s traditional futuristic synth-heavy sound, the rest of the album features a more light-hearted side of the girls with themes of not taking life too seriously. “Illusion,” which was released last month as a pre-release single, is a fan favorite and rightfully so.
“ICU,” which Giselle and Winter both called out as personal favorites, has a message that emphasizes the importance of making sure to take a step back and rest in the midst of busy times. Karina sings “I see you / When you feel down for some reason / Remember that nothing is more precious than you.” Similar themes of self-care and mental health can be found in “Life’s Too Short.”
“Lingo” is a bit more experimental by meshing pop with country, a genre rarely featured in K-pop, but it’s addictive nonetheless. “It doesn’t matter what people say / or if it seems childish / I know what I like” sings Ningning in the bridge.
Aespa has been surrounded by a lot of buzz since their debut due to their unique concept featuring a virtual world, villains, and avatar members, but the root of it all is the music. If you were doubtful about Aespa before, it’s time to fall down the rabbit hole into Kwangya and realize that the girls make it work.