Some matches are made in heaven, and Infinite‘s Kim Sungkyu + Nell’s Kim Jongwan is one of them. Not only did Jongwan compose all of Sungkyu’s 2015 mini album 27, but he’s often been lauded by the man himself as the performer that inspired him to become a musician. Now, the duo have returned after nearly three years for ten new songs, heralded by the gorgeous True Love.
Sungkyu and his band mate Woohyun are my two favorite voices in k-pop, but Sungkyu reaches a whole different level when he’s on his own. You can hear Jongwan’s inspiration in his phrasing, but his tone is absolutely unique and capable of elevating anything it touches. Such is the case with True Love, which in other hands might float by pleasantly and be forgotten as soon as it’s over. But like his previous work, Sungkyu approaches each line with incredible nuance and emotion, imbuing the song’s slow-burn verses with a captivating build. He’s backed by gentle percussion that only fully resounds when the chorus crashes in.
And what a chorus. It feels instantly familiar in the way the most comforting of pop can, but its sentimental melody is wrapped in a lush collage of hushed background vocals and sticky rhythm guitar. This may seem like an odd comparison, but Sungkyu’s poppier material has always reminded me of the soft rock of 90’s act Savage Garden (who were one of my formative musical obsessions). Maybe that’s why his work resonates with me so strongly. True Love is simple — especially when it comes to k-pop — but there’s an undeniable beauty and power in that simplicity.