As Block B have progressed to a new stage in their career, their comebacks seem to alternate between the raucous hip-hop/pop of their past and more pensive balladry. November’s Shall We Dance brought the party vibes, and new single Don’t Leave (떠나지마요) follows it up with the inevitable come down, casting the group in a mature, melodic light.
Written by member Park Kyung, Don’t Leave feels very much like the kind of big, chest-beating ballad occasionally delivered by YG Entertainment acts like Bigbang and iKON. Seven years ago, when Block B first debuted, I doubt anyone would have expected Park Kyung to compose a track like this. Throughout the group’s early years, he was often relegated to the role of supporting rapper to Zico’s larger-than-life stage presence. But he’s always been my favorite member, and has begun to show a real versatility when it comes to songwriting.
With that said, Don’t Leave doesn’t reinvent the wheel. It follows its given template with lockstep precision, from its piano ballad production to its soaring chorus. Fortunately, this is a structure and tone that works, and is particularly successful for a group like Block B. They still manage to squeeze their trademark hip-hop in there, as the second verse unfolds with an effective vocal interplay. As listeners might expect, main vocal Taeil does most of the heavy lifting, and it’s always a treat to hear his voice unleashed on a track of this nature. But in the end, the fact that Don’t Leave doesn’t take any chances makes it feel more forgettable than it should.