On November 26th, AOA came back with the highly anticipated mini album ‘New Moon’. Their previous album release was in May 2018 with ‘Bingle Bangle’. During their 1 year and 7 months of hiatus between music releases, AOA weathered through major changes in the group such as renewal of contracts with their company, FNC Entertainment, and the departure of one of the members, Mina. They re-branded themselves as a 5-member group and in August, they participated in the Mnet show ‘Queendom’ where five girl groups (including AOA) and one soloist performed in a series of competitions in which their performances were ranked. AOA themselves were highly praised for their appearances, and they subsequently rose in popularity with the general public. ‘New Moon’ serves to continue their re-established, growing recognition as it went for a dark, fierce, and classy concept. Jimin, the leader and rapper of the group, participated in writing lyrics for three of the tracks, ‘Come See Me’, ‘Sorry’, and ‘Magic Spell’. The members present themselves as moon hunters who search for the bright object in the dark night. They’re yearning for the beautiful sphere that can create luminous light which can enhance the sky.

Title track ‘Come See Me’ is an electro-pop track that gives an intense yet dreamlike aura. It shows their desire for someone to come see them, even in the cold wind that blows in the deep night. While the song starts with electric guitar vibrations (0:08-0:09) that allures a Western vibe and warm atmosphere, the lyrics themselves depict the cold environment especially when Seolhyun sings in the first verse, ‘Through come cold winter’ (0:16-0:18). She has a breathy yet tender vocal that draws me to the song. Jimin sounds enticing with her signature phrase ‘Hey’ at 0:14. Melodies all through the song are catchy with the first listen. The EDM beats during the chorus are pleasant to hear as well. The members went for a girl crush concept, and their vocals carry a lot of that energy. The chorus is memorable with Hyejeong singing at 1:03-1:06, ‘Sound of your steps, Do you know my heart is fluttering’ which switches to Seolhyun singing at 1:07-1:08 with a line that is the track title, ‘Come see me’. Then it alternates to Yuna at 1:09-1:14 singing ‘Voice looking for me, I run to you in one step’. The end of the chorus is also notable when Yuna sings ‘Twilight…the twilight‘ at 1:16-1:22. Repetition of that phrase is so distinctive that it made me think that it would be good as the song title as well. The emphasis on ‘twilight’ also creates the image of the moon and the dusky concept. Overall the song is captivating with its electric guitar instrumentals and the confident vocal tones.

Sorry’ is an urban pop genre song which is known for its vocal performance in ‘Queendom’. Released on October 25th, it was one of the finale songs performed in the show. ‘Sorry’ talks about determination to leave a person who doesn’t love them and constantly says he’s sorry when he truly isn’t. The pre-chorus parts are low in tone, and the chorus sections turn to high notes. The chorus itself is powerful with Hyejeong belting out at 0:48-0:56 ‘Don’t make me laugh, it’s obvious again, sorry sorry sorry’, and Yuna singing at 0:57-1:03, ‘What’s the ending, to freeze to death with your love? Love without an answer bye bye bye.’ The most appealing part was when the latter sings repeatedly ‘stop the stop the love’ at 1:11-1:15. It was enjoyable listening to the traditional string instruments in the background during the ‘stop the stop the love’ parts. While ‘Sorry’ is a solid track, it isn’t my favorite b-side as the pre-chorus parts lack instrumentals, and the song doesn’t pick up until the chorus. This however delivers the solid girl crush concept that was perfect for ‘Queendom’.

Magic Spell’ is a mixture of trap and dance, and it’s my favorite track on the album. It starts off with giggling at 0:02-0:06 which gave me a dreamy but anxious feeling that made me wonder what would happen next. Distinctive are the electronic guitar sounds and whistle noises at 0:04-0:13. The sounds of the whistle transcended me to a magical, renewed feeling, and it’s a cutesy song compared to the other tracks in the album. At 0:11-0:13, Yuna sings ‘Cast a spell’ which is the same line as in the chorus itself. I like how the chorus part is already introduced in the beginning of the song. Through ‘Magic Spell’, the members ask a person that they desire to find where they are by casting a spell. My favorite parts are during the pre-chorus parts when Chanmi sings at 1:44-1:50, ‘So that you can hear me calling even from the end of that star‘ and when Yuna lets out ‘So that it will shine even in the darkness’. Their vocal colors shine a lot with their high notes and charming vocal tones.

The meaning of the lyrics seems to be similar to the title track ‘Come Find Me’, especially during the chorus sections when Hyejeong sings at 2:14-2:20, ‘Come find me wherever I am…’, and the same in Yuna‘s turn in 2:21-2:26, ‘Remember the signal that only you and I know.. signal for just the two of us.‘ The most mesmerizing part was when Seolhyun sings in 2:27-2:33 ‘find me in my dreams.‘ Her voice was alluring which fits well into the fantasy concept for ‘Magic Spell‘. Jimin’s raps were also good especially when she sings in 1:42-1:43, “Tonight I am a Cinderella, cast a spell.” From beginning to end, the music was very enjoyable to listen.

Ninety Nine’ is a disco pop track with a retro vibe. It depicts how the person’s heart rises up to 99 degrees upon seeing someone that they like. It expresses a person’s mind in an exhilarating way. Yuna’s vocals shine here with her high tone vocals during the chorus, ‘Now our temperature is 99, my heart is getting hotter.” There are disco beats throughout the verses and chorus. Hot temperature is suggested further when Hyejeong sings, ‘even the cold champagne, it can’t cool me‘ at 0:38-0:41. I like their vocal harmonization when they all sing during the verse ‘oh no, oh now‘ at 1:52-1:53 and during the end of the second chorus at 2:36-2:45. The upbeat tempo throughout the song made me feel energized.

My Way‘ is the last track on the album that is noted for its funky sounds. It gives a message to enjoy the moment and not care about what other people think. I was particularly fond of the groovy bass sound throughout the song. I like how they all harmonize when they sing at 0:50-0:52 ‘Just for today, my way leave it, my way.‘ Perhaps they are talking about themselves when they express that they feel freedom by enjoying life for today and not caring about the negative attention that may surround them. My favorite part of the song is Chanmi‘s vocal in the second verse when she sings at 1:44-1:50, ‘I want to be alone, today I’m a bit sentimental.’ I suggest listening to the whole song for its motivational message, groovy tempo, and rhythmical vocals. It’s fun to listen to.

In closing, I recommend listening to the whole album as all the tracks are very good and there are no fillers. They explore a variety of genres such as urban pop with ‘Sorry‘, disco pop with ‘Ninety Nine‘, and electro pop with ‘Come See Me‘. They expressed themselves effectively with an elegant and fiery concept. It’s a change from their cute approach in their previous title track, ‘Bingle Bangle’. The sophisticated and sultry image presented in ‘New Moon‘ is similar to their title tracks pre-2018 such as ‘Excuse Me.’ I’m pleased that they came back stronger than ever even with difficult circumstances surrounding them as well as long hiatus music wise. I’m looking forward to whatever new music they’ll present to us in the future.

Artistic Creativity: 8.25/10
Vocal Quality: 9.25/10
Music: 9/10 for the title track, 9.25/10 for B-sides