Though Zico remains Block B‘s biggest solo breakout, I’ve actually preferred the more playful, quirkier material released by Park Kyung. Both Ordinary Love and Inferiority Complex were dynamic, interesting pieces of hip-hop pop, and pairing his verses with female vocalists seemed to be a winning formula. New single When I’m With You (너 앞에서 나는) switches things up a bit, as it sees Kyung duet with singer/producer Brother Su, who is perhaps best known as the songwriter behind BTS‘s massive I Need U.
But this isn’t the only aspect that’s different about the song. When I’m With You trades the light, upbeat style of Kyung’s previous hits for a laidback, jazzy vibe. In fact, the track is much more vocal-driven than hip-hop. The instrumental’s general sound still fits securely in his wheelhouse, but it’s definitely a more subdued iteration of that style. The sing-songy melody is pleasant, but lacks the interplay and wit that was so appealing in his past work. Though its refrains are repeated often, the track fails to present a knockout punch that would linger past its running time.
That said, it’s surprising how convincingly Park Kyung pulls off this genre. When the extended jazz instrumental kicks in during the song’s middle eight, it doesn’t sound remotely jarring or out of place despite the fact that it’s not at all what you would expect from an idol-driven track. Kyung’s voice retains its inimitable character, and actually blends with Brother Su’s so seamlessly that it’s hard to tell when one ends and the other begins. In all honestly, When I’m With You probably could have just been a pure solo release rather than a duet. As it stands, the song feels more like a strong album track than the next big hit that likely lies in Kyung’s future.