Though they seem to have found their sweet spot as a self-producing idol group, it still feels like Pentagon are struggling to find their signature sound. Leader Hui co-created Wanna One’s immense Energetic, but hasn’t chosen to borrow that same sense of dance-pop propulsion for his own group. In its place is a trendier brand of hip-hop pop that has impressed just as often as it has underwhelmed. With new single Shine (빛나리), it feels like the group saw the immense success of iKON’s Love Scenario and decided to create their own version.
This mid-tempo, melodic sound works well for Pentagon, even if it doesn’t come across as particularly original. With ten members, the group benefits from a variety of tones and performance styles that keep Shine consistently engaging despite its low-key arrangement. The song utilizes a catchy piano loop as its base, gradually building its instrumental with minimalist percussion and a touch of synthesized brass. Add some cowbell and you basically have Love Scenario Part 2. This is a problem, as these aspects of Shine come across as derivative and try-hard.
Thankfully, the guys throw enough curve balls into the mix to make the song stand on its own. As much as I love rapper E’Dawn’s unflagging charisma, he feels a bit overused here. Much more exciting are the song’s vocal-driven peaks. They pack a surprising punch — especially during the brief pre-chorus build. Shine’s chorus is largely throwaway except for the chanted refrain that marks its climax. Catchy, idiosyncratic moments like this represent what Pentagon does best, and point towards a more exciting sound that isn’t so reliant on others’ successes.