mini-album review: aespa “Savage”

aespa returns!

The four-member group (or eight-member, if we’re going by the group’s formalities) from the ever-popular SM Entertainment umbrella has made waves in the K-pop scene with their third single “Next Level”, reaching heights as the new hot 4th generation girl group. So, when the announcement for a mini-album comeback (this being their first) came along months later, the hype was real: will this follow “Next Level” in its footsteps to securing aespa’s fame?

With a mini-album and a title track titled “Savage“, you know aespa isn’t coming to play around with the next comeback. So, it’s here we have to ask: is this on the “Next Level” for the girls or is this not on the same “Savage” level as Megan Thee Stallion? I kid, but we have to wonder how savage this could be… read on!


aespa
Savage – The 1st Mini Album
Released: 2021/10/05

Navigation
aenergy
Savage
I’ll Make You Cry
YEPPI YEPPI
ICONIC
Lucid Dream

aespa promoting Savage

aenergy

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Everyday we get better to be good aenergy!

The beats pulse, the bass hits, and the synergy is real. “aenergy“, the mini’s introductory track, serves its purpose, setting the energy of the mini-album as a whole. Its lyrics bring each member front and center, and its chorus calls out for its listener to chant along with them in unison. It’s a fiery intro, built to make you move in anticipation for what’s to come, and it’s worthy of repeated listens. The only downside is that it is an introduction track – this means it is brief, to its point, and shouldn’t have to sound as good as it does. That doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of energy coming up soon…


Savage

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Oh my gosh, don’t you know I’m a savage?!

Winter makes it very clear. And I love it. It’s “Savage“.

I had entirely high expectations for this song, with its attractive title, its teasers, and the hype surrounding how it will sound following the frantic but incredibly catchy vibes of “Next Level”, and those expectations were smashed. I bet it has something to do with how this song is much more coherent in its structure, yet somehow manages to have this weird SOPHIE (RIP) sound meshed with its typical K-pop flavorings. I bet it also has to do with a anti-chorus that gets you gets you now to zu zu zu at every point it shows up.

I have to give it to aespa for making these lyrics feel as fierce as they do because if it was for any other song outside of SM, it would sound ridiculous. Yet, here, it’s the vocal deliveries from Winter and Ningning to the incredible rap tings of Karina and Giselle that offer so much. It’s a fierce song, and one that blew me away upon first listen. Megan Thee Stallion, you better watch out. You’ve got savage competition.


I’ll Make You Cry

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The game’s over, and you just played on it.

The energy continues with “I’ll Make You Cry“, which, as you’ll notice, is my least favorite track on the mini-album.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s still a pretty fierce track, but it pales in comparison to the incredible feel of “Savage”. Here, “I’ll Make You Cry” makes attempts to face off against a scorned lover with aespa flair, but it just falls flat with its generic girl crush sound that borrows a lot of Western R&B/hip-hop/trap elements. And perhaps that’s why I’m not too fond to put this track on repeat; I’ve heard it all before. Its saving grace is, again, each girl in the group, who deliver with amazing vocals that just exude fierceness.

Maybe I’ll get into this, maybe it’ll make me cry eventually, but right now, to quote Miss Ariana Grande, there’s just no tears left to cry.


YEPPI YEPPI

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Even if you don’t say I’m pretty, I’m pretty, pretty!

In amazing contrast to “I’ll Make You Cry” is my absolute favorite B-side (and maybe even favorite song) on the mini-album: “YEPPI YEPPI“.

Don’t let it’s incredibly laughable title fool you; it’s supposed to be a way to describe being pretty, which is what this track is all about – loving oneself. I can’t fault the girls for a silly title, especially when it’s all about admiring who you are and knowing your worth. Yet, it’s not even its title or its lyrics that I’m in love with.

The whole song is a banger. A bop, as the kids say. It’s got this wholesome house melody (which blends with hip-hop elements) that is just so up my alley that I’ve stayed parked in it for hours since this mini-album came out. I’ve had it on repeat at the gym, in the car, at home cooking… look, there’s really just no way to describe it than that it is aespa’s most fun song, and I don’t know if I’d listen to anything else past this point.

I have to give it to aespa… I’m definitely feeling pretty pretty.


ICONIC

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

We go and make it iconic, like that, with no hesitation, like that!

But alas, we have to continue… and I’m glad I did! Because “ICONIC” happened to play, and let’s put it in simple terms: it is iconic.

Now, at first, I cringed at its lyrics, because it just feels so of its time, BUT then as I listened to it more, I felt it. I resonated. I had the zoom zoom zoom. I had ITZY telling me it’s ICY but then it turned into aespa giving me a spelling lesson I never knew I needed. It’s I-C-O-N-I-C.

Let’s talk about its instrumental – it’s fierce. Again, there’s just no shortage of the girl crush feel here, considering that aespa is SM’s form of it, albeit with some twinges to make them a ‘futuristic’ girl crush group. There’s a really slick feel to its melody, as it has a hip-hop meshed with pop sound that feels familiar, but not as generic as that of “I’ll Make You Cry”. It hits at the right moments, and it complements the girls’ vocals and rap so well.

They do this song so iconic, and I’m about to vroom vroom vroom this song to future listens.


자각몽 (Lucid Dream)

Lucid Dream
Romanization: Jagakmong (Lucid Dream)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ll follow you here forever, even in the dark, ’til the end. It’s still you.

Lucid Dream” ends the mini-album on a slower note, opting for a more Western R&B-like feel, and I love it, especially after finding out it’s a track produced by a team that includes singer-songwriter Hayley Kiyoko.

It hits all the right marks for a typical R&B song (right down to a possible sampling of something, whatever it is), but it also makes it sound so good and smooth. The girls sing at a lower tone, which is understandable as we’re now slowing down the aenergy. Yet, it never wanes. The song feels fresh and worthy of a sway and headbob.

I’m not entirely fond of the weird monologue part-way through, but it gives the track some sort of oomph; had it not been there, the song would probably just feel repetitive. I do enjoy its tale of the girls looking for love in their dreams, and it fits well with its laid-back vibe.

“Lucid Dream” is quite the closer, and I think it’s worth drifting through if you need to relax from all the savage energy…


OVERVIEW

“Ehhhhh!” – Megan Thee Stallion

All joking aside, aespa has delivered and has taken a savage hold on me for the next month or so. I would not be surprised if all the songs somehow end up raking in high play counts in the next three weeks.

I’m giving “Savage” a definite recommend. There’s just a lot here that I think is worth a listen or two for casual listeners, and it is certainly going to continue the hype train for those already on board the naevis train. More people should SYNK their teeth into this savage release; otherwise, you’re missing out.

If this is the “Next Level” that aespa is referring to, I can’t wait to see what next savage release the girls and KWANGYA will send to us fans next.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

MUST-LISTEN: Savage, YEPPI YEPPI, ICONIC

For more aespa reviews, visit the archive!

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