Thunder (whose moniker sounds more like a stripper than a k-pop star), is branching out on his own with his first mini album since leaving boy group MBLAQ in 2014. To help him in his solo efforts, he’s enlisted Goo Hara, who’s also a former member of a group (this time the disbanded Kara). They team up to offer the smooth funk of Sign. It goes down easy, even if it doesn’t leave that big of an impression when it’s over.
Driven by rhythm guitar, Sign melds early Maroon 5-esque riffs with an ad-lib heavy vocal that borrows some of Michael Jackson’s inimitable tics. This all sounds kind of cheesy, but the song works in spite of itself. The melody is light, complimenting the upbeat nature of the production. None of the hooks really hit you over the head, but they’re fun and funky enough to keep you grooving. Thunder could benefit from dialing down his near-constant aping of MJ’s performance style, but his airy approach is otherwise engaging. Goo Hara isn’t given much to do, but I like the fact that she’s woven throughout the entire track rather than given some disconnected, phoned-in verse. The constant riffing of the instrumental threatens to become overly repetitive, but her interjections bring a much needed change in texture.
Sign‘s big drawback is that it fails to make much of a mark. It’s the kind of track that’s highly enjoyable when it’s playing, but there’s nothing about it that grips you by the collar and demands another listen. Still, its sense of lighthearted funk is a welcome change of pace during these winter months, and the fact that Thunder had a hand in its composition bodes well for any future solo material he may deliver.