Of the two title tracks that Akdong Musician released as part of their new mini album, How People Move is the looser, more fun-loving sibling. It’s also one of the most bizarre mainstream kpop releases we’ve heard in quite some time.
On first listen, many portions of the song come across as improvised. Though it’s a short track, it boasts extended instrumental breaks that add to its freewheeling party vibe. Further listens reveal a tighter structure, though surprises continue to lurk around every corner. How People Move opens strong with touches of brass and a fast, shuffling rhythm. Suyhun and Chanhyuk trade off verses, coming together for some bright harmonies that fuel the chorus, though it’s hard to really call it a “chorus” because the entire track amounts to a grab bag of equally-positioned hooks. This makes everything feel a bit scattershot at first, but adds to the song’s anything-goes mystique. It grabs you immediately, but also forces you to listen carefully for fear of missing any of its rapid-fire melodic turns.
Three quarters of the way through, How People Move explodes in a gorgeous, extended harmonic crescendo that acts as a theatrical exclamation point. It’s one of the duo’s best musical moments to date, and certainly my favorite aspect of the track. I wish things didn’t end so quickly after that point, as the closing lines feel somewhat abrupt and unfinished. Still, the amount of sheer craziness at play here is incredibly admirable, and an absolute blast to listen to. Akdong Musician has undoubtedly matured, leaving behind simple kpop for something much more challenging and eccentric. How People Move nearly falls off the rails at multiple points, but each time it’s pulled back by the undeniable pop smarts of its performers.