Rookie group IMFACT were frustratingly managed in their debut year, suffering a fate that has affected many new acts before them. Rather than establish a distinct sound, they pin-balled between the upbeat novelty of debut Lollipop and the tuneless, swagger-on-steroids of Feel So Good. Neither were particularly great songs, and both seemed built to appeal to vastly different markets. It just wasn’t a solid foundation for the group.
Looking to change that, their agency announced the IMFACTORY project, which allows the guys to release new music every month in 2017. Better yet, the project’s first track was written and produced by the group themselves. I’m usually not a huge fan of idol groups composing their own material just for the sake of it, but with IMFACT I think it’s an important step. After their muddled approach so far, listeners need to feel a more personal touch.
In many ways, In The Club (니가 없어) is every mid-tempo boy group ballad you’ve ever heard, but IMFACT pulls it off well. Kicking off with a familiar blend of moody keys, acoustic guitar and a hip-hop beat, the track blends emotional rap verses with a more melodic chorus. It’s the kind of song that sneaks up on you — its melody transforming from slight and throwaway to quite galvanizing and addictive the longer the song plays. It’s also the best the guys have sounded, particularly during the vocal-focused segments. There are some gorgeous tones on display here that none of their past title tracks have ever really explored. I can see this becoming quite the grower as 2017 moves forward. If nothing else, it’s a massive u-turn in quality for a group I was about ready to dismiss entirely.