It’s been over a year since IMFACT’s last group release, the exuberant pop jolt of Tension Up. Since that time, main vocal Jeup made a splash on KBS’s The Unit survival series, nearly placing within the final nine contestants. It’s the perfect time to try to capitalize on that momentum, and new single The Light (빛나) attempts to do so with a reinvention of the group’s sound.
I’m all for lesser-appreciated genres making their way into k-pop, and it’s a delight to hear drum and bass play a prominent role in The Light’s chorus. Its double time breakbeats and off-kilter synth provide a refreshingly unique jolt of excitement. Unfortunately, the song’s verses are business as usual, presenting the kind of murky, low-energy ambiance that seems to be dominating much of popular music lately. Like so many recent boy group tracks, these segments simply feel as if they’re killing time until we get to the good stuff. Also, these pitched vocal ornamentations and background synth squiggles absolutely need to stop. When they’re haphazardly thrown into every single k-pop track, they begin to feel laughably derivative.
It’s better, then, to focus on The Light’s merits. Vocalists Jeup and Sang bring a wonderful power to the song’s pre-chorus, while Ungjae’s gruff tone lends addictive life to the one-line chorus. I just wish the guys would have embraced the drum and bass sound even further. This is an amazing group with such potential, but they haven’t yet found their one extraordinary song.