After a series of scandals involving ditzy history remembrance trivia and the departure of center vocalist member Park Choabeloved summer hit queens, AOA, seemed to be on a slippery slope headed further away from public grace. For a while, there was serious speculation and worry as to how the girls would recover and regroup given the circumstances they were being dealt.

The heated question on top of every fan’s lips just needed to be answered. Could AOA successfully continue their dominance within K-pop as a six-member ensemble? AOA have their answer ready in the form of a musical EP that puts to shame any doubters, making a strong declaration that the group is here to reign once more just in time for the summer. The group’s fifth mini album Bingle Bangle is filled with funky summer jams, fresh and lively melodies that rise above their past discography to make Bingle Bangle their best work to date.

AOA’s fifth EP opens up with the title track “Bingle Bangle,” a saturated infused pop tune backdropped by a continued whistling melody that only elevates the playfulness of the song. The charmful instrumental works very nicely to spotlight the member’s individual voices, with Yuna and Hyejeong covering the pre-chorus bridge, an important spot that had been held by the group’s past lead vocalist, Choa.

The girls do a skillful job at making sure that no obvious gap can be heard even when the song hits its lively chorus melody. The song tugs on a simple lovey-dovey storyline as the girls experience a physical and mental attraction that can only be alleviated with a dance.

What is this trembling? Never felt this heart fluttering feeling
What’s wrong with my heart? I think it’s gone crazy
We know that there’s a strong attraction
You can want me all you want, just let’s dance

Along with their well produced single, AOA also deserves praise for the accompanying music video. The MV mixes the two worlds of reality and the virtual to create a comically filled video game universe full of colorful pixel characters and rollerblade costumes. This visual is definitely a massive change up in concept from their last double music video release in which they delivered a weak filled rehashing influenced from the magic stuffed film, Now You See Me. This time round, AOA puts their unique concept to good use. Not just in the title track but also within the rest of the mini album which happens to be just as good—if not better—than “Bingle Bangle.”

Along with the title track, Bingle Bangle is composed of songs drawing musical inspiration from folk, trap, and disco. The track “Super Duper” is another fun and addictive chorus filled track that is straight pop with its bright melody and instrumentation. The girls continue their love journey narrative, but this time they are much more upfront as they bravely confess to their lover that all they need is their “Super Duper” love.

The EP is able to make a dynamic switch with the introduction of the song “Heat” and “Ddu Ddu Ddu” which Jimin helped compose. Both tracks glow with clean and favorable guitar refrains allowing the AOA members to parallel well with the addition of group harmonizations. However, even though most of the tracks do a great job in filling in the empty spot left behind by Choa, it’s in the low key acoustic tracks that rely on vocal technique where Choa’s absence is felt the most. Although the members try to compensate this problem by delivering repetitive but catchy chorus hooks and added harmonies, Choa’s unique vocal tone is definitely something the rest of the members can never replicate.

AOA as a six-member group shine the brightest on funky summer tunes like the Latin inspired song “Ladi Dadi” and the personal favorite “Parfait.” By far these two tracks show off what AOA does best: delivering summer pop anthems that get stuck on repeat even way after the heat wave has cooled. Even as the lyrics tend to gravitate towards simple narratives of love, AOA has a unique charm that makes delivery the best part in every situation. For example, on the quirky and addictive “Parfait” the girls enter a trance of devotion as they gush about their crush.

You’re a good good funny funny ya
Your dripping honey makes me smile
Your eyes are like melted chocolate
You’re good good funny funny, good good honey

Although this type of quality lyricism is frequent among AOA songs and it’s no exception when it comes to the Bingle Bangle, there is nothing wrong in having these repetitive narratives when stylistically done and musically satisfying. This is the core moto the songs among the EP strive to be: addictive, fun, and all too colorful. In all honesty, this has also been the moto for AOA themselves as they usually set their comeback dates just in time for summer. They are all for pumping up the atmosphere with enjoyable and playful concepts, enticing just about any K-pop fan.

AOA has been dealt unfavorable cards in the past but they are now ready to let bygones be bygones. Their fifth mini album, Bingle Bangle is an excellent complication of tracks exhibiting the AOA we all know and love. The group seems to be more united than ever and are producing well crafted tunes around a refreshing and lively concept. It is undeniable, the summer queens are back.

(YouTube. Images via FNC Entertainment)