No one can stop talking about aespa. After an explosive first half of 2022 that included the futuristic K-pop girl group making their Coachella debut, the “Savage” singers are back with their second mini album, Girlsa disc of nine tracks of songs that positions them as one of the most exciting girl groups of the moment.
If you’re not already familiar, the octet – made up of four real members, Karina, Winter, Giselle, and Ningning, and their four AI counterparts – already has a slew of prominent co-signers. Grimes considers herself a huge fan, and after listening to their new project, it’s hard not to understand why. Their brand of pop – filtered through the band’s weird sci-fi lens and steeped in history – is brash, daring and hard to define. On Girls, their sound goes from glitchy, hard-hitting anthems to sweet, radio-friendly bops, and then veers off completely into another different path. There are apparently no sonic rules in the Aespa universe, which makes listening Girls all the more invigorating.
Below, we’ve rounded up the best songs from the mini-album that captures the essence of Aespa’s unbridled artistic identity. From the title track “Girls” to the western and danceable mishmash that is “Lingo”, these are the must-have songs from the band’s latest album.
In the aespa universe, the girl group is a monster-fighting force navigating between reality and the virtual world. It’s a bold concept that the band often translates into hard-hitting pop that wouldn’t seem out of place during the “walking away from a scene of destruction” part of a Hollywood action movie. “Girls,” the title track and opener from their latest album, is that version of the song, but it does it in a way that doesn’t sound corny. Its glitchy, electronic-heavy production mellows out during the bridge, before slipping into a crazy techno breakdown at the end. Throughout, the members repeat the lyrics, “We them girls,” as an invigorating call to action. Sonically, there are a lot of surprises, but it shows that Aespa’s vocals sound comfortable against any kind of beat.
“Lingo” is probably the weirdest song on Girls. The two-and-a-half-minute track uses harmonica, cowbells, and a squeaky bass line to create something that sounds something like sonic whiplash, but in a good way? The song is about celebrating the special and unique bonds between close friends, expressed through the metaphor of shared lingo. If this song is any indication, aespa certainly has its own language and I’m on board to learn it.
“Life is too short”
Is “Life’s Too Short” the best pop song of 2022? Maybe it’s too early a call to make, but if you ask me for the guitar-laden tracks is, hands down, the clear distinction of Girls. Sometimes when K-pop groups release a song in English, they can fall into the trap of over-maximizing the song’s production and structure, a tactic that works in K-pop but sometimes fails to translate. . “Life’s Too Short” (aespa’s first English-language single) eschews this pitfall wonderfully, instead crafting a bright, bouncy, and fairly simple pop melody that holds together as delightfully as a dollop of whipped cream. The song is about warding off your enemies because life’s too short to focus on those things – a very American concept that, surprisingly, doesn’t seem out of place at all in the world of Aespa. From the song’s irresistible hook – there’s just Something about the way they sing, “And I don’t care what they say about it” that immediately slips into my brain – with kinda sassy lyrics and the agile voice of the members, it has everything you would want of a three-minute pop song. Another rarity? The Korean and English versions sound fantastic.
Dreamy, so sweet and light, “ICU (쉬어 가도 돼)” is the whimsical reflection of the smooth and edgy pop side of the album. His plucked acoustic guitar line oddly reminds me a bit of One Direction but not to his detriment. The song is honestly just a really enjoyable listen, as the girls take a break from the hypothetical fights and saving the world to sit down and serenade us with a mid-tempo ballad. Technically, it’s a display of the band’s unflinching versatility and adds a powerful emotional punch to the band’s otherwise fierce history.
One cannot fully understand Aespa’s story without listening to “Black Mamba”, the band’s song named after the fierce villain of their universe. It’s also a beast in its own right in terms of production, blending elements of rock, hip-hop and EDM, and makes the girls sing in a call-and-response way. The track is one of the first singles they released for Girls – dropped in 2020 – but remains one of their most idiosyncratic, boldly blending their fantastical storytelling and laid-back listening. Two years later, I still don’t know what the “Black Mamba” is exactly, but I still sing with it.
Aespa’s “Girls” is available now through SM Entertainment.