It seems as though the debut of a new SM girl group has been imminent for some years now. In fact, it’s been four years since SM last debuted a new group and almost six since their last girl group, Red Velvet. As such, Aespa, and their debut effort, Black Mamba arrive with much expectation. And while much of the pre-debut hype surrounding the group stemmed from the idea of potential large configuration SNSD like super group, Aespa are a much more compact affair, with a rather small 4 member roster. In a company known for providing their groups with knockout debuts, does Black Mamba measure up?
The short answer is No. No it doesn’t.
The long answer however is a bit more complicated.
When compared to instant classics like Replay, Into The New World, Mama, Twins and maybe even to some extent The Sixth Sense, Black Mamba falls far short. Dare I say that even Happiness and La Cha Ta were more instant. That’s not to say that Black Mamba is a bad track (it’s far from it), but it lacks the kind of immediate impact and image that characterised the SM efforts of days past. Much of that has to do with the production, which feels much more like it’s been ripped from a recent NCT record than something unique to the girls. Of course it’s great to hear a different take on this kind of sound and the girls pull it off really well, but I would have really wished for a more unique approach sound wise.
The lack of a concrete hook I believe does play a key role in limiting Black Mamba‘s appeal. The production here remains strong and while the instrumental bursts with character, the accompanying hook feels much too lifeless and generic to carry any weight. This is a shame because Aespa has shown to be home to some great performers. The first verse has a great flow to it, backed by a healthy dose of attitude that manages to feel both effortless yet cool. This coupled with some tight production during more trap laden following segment allows for the girls to showcase both their vocals and rap line in a rather efficient and very well structured fashion. But Black Mamba‘s crowning moment is the bridge, which in typical SM style builds to some electrifying vocal crescendos and transitions the track into a standout final chorus. It’s moments like this which remind me of the groups noble heritage and I would have loved to see more standout moments like this throughout the track
Producer Yoo Young Jin may have lost some of the spark that made his past efforts near flawless but his golden touch is still present here. Those glorious backing vocals during the pre-chorus and even the slight layering of vocals during the hook assist in giving Black Mamba a more larger than life feel. And while Black Mamba hasn’t hooked me quite as strongly as I would have liked, I’m still eager to see where these girls go next.
Final Rating: 7.75 / 10