U-KISS are back in Korea after an extended hiatus. Though they’ve been away for about a year and a half, it’s been even longer since they’ve returned with a dance track. The beat-driven Stalker recalls the glory years of their 2009-2012 output, while also sounding different from anything they’ve released so far.
Stalker kicks off immediately with its pulsing, Timbaland-esque electronic beat. The staccato verses that follow recall k-pop trends of the past, particularly the twitchy, lurching funk pop of Yoo Young Jin-produced Shinee, Super Junior or TVXQ. That’s not to say that Stalker is as memorable as any of those acts, but it’s comforting to have this distinctly k-pop sound make a return. The song only gives us small bits of melodic release in the surging chorus. The hook is definitely going in the right direction, but suffers a bit by not pushing far enough. Tack a second refrain at the end of each chorus and Stalker would have felt fuller and bigger. As it stands, the track is enjoyable, but doesn’t beg for repeat listens the way their best material does.
But for better or worse, I don’t have many expectations for U-KISS’s newer releases. Overall, Stalker ends up as a pleasant surprise. It doesn’t offer anything new or novel, but the group has been around long enough that they can get away with their music sounding like a self-tribute act. In the realm of U-KISS songs, this is definitely in the upper 50%. And while I would have liked something with a little more melodic heft (like February’s Japanese single Kissing To Feel), at least Stalker has some bite to it.