Just last week, former JBJ member Longguo released his solo debut. Right on his heels is Kim Donghan, the project group’s youngest. More often than not, I struggled to connect with JBJ’s music, so I can’t help but approach these solos with deflated expectations. But that sense of ambivalence makes Sunset all the more impressive. Donghan is channeling his inner Taemin with this track, and I’m all for it.
Sunset is driven by an ever-growing pulse of rhythm, which unfolds gradually for maximum effect. The instrumental opens with little more than finger snaps and an atmospheric guitar loop. This soon develops into a chugging bassline before the chorus opens the floodgates. We get a wonderfully sticky groove here, electronic and almost industrial without ever kowtowing to the dreaded tropical trend. In this way, Sunset recalls k-pop’s experimental 2013-2014 sound. There’s a classic touch to the song’s production, but it doesn’t feel stuck in the past.
Donghan is a gifted performer, and instantly draws attention as a dancer. His straightforward vocals don’t have the mystique or effortless charisma of someone like Taemin, and that blunts Sunset’s overall effect — but only slightly. The song’s serpentine melody gives him plenty to work with, culminating in a multi-part chorus that opts for melodic hooks over monotonous instrumental drops. I assume Donghan will be put into another boy group somewhere down the line, but Sunset does a convincing job establishing him as a solo artist with incredible potential.