There’s no shame in seeking to replicate the success of a hit single. Momoland did it earlier this year when BAAM all but plagiarized their own Bboom Bboom, and now Pentagon have doubled down on the musical hallmarks of their slow-burning spring hit Shine. Of course, Naughty Boy (청개구리) sees the group in a very different place than Momoland, as their ranks have been cut down by two for the time being.
So what does the reconfigured Octagon sound like? Well, leader Hui and his crew Flow Blow are back on songwriting duty, giving Naughty Boy’s rambunctious, stream-of-consciousness sound a familiar appeal. Honestly, the song’s similarity with its predecessor is a little off-putting at first, as Pentagon have already proven themselves to have a more diverse style than this. But that critical lens drops pretty quickly. The track is just too fun to dismiss. And in a boy group climate dominated by brooding and tough guy posturing, I’m all for some fun.
Naughty Boy opens with a whistle, but that potentially grating element rarely returns. Instead, we get laid-back, bouncy verses and a chant-along hook that slightly shifts Shine’s melodic turns to create something just different enough to stand on its own. This chorus is underlined by trumpet-like synth cribbed directly from the final moments of iKON’s Love Scenario, but Pentagon’s unique energy makes it feel fresher than expected. This is a track tailor-made for their rapper, E’Dawn, and it’s a shame that he was kept from participating. You can hear the lines that were meant for his bratty, sing-song tone, and that’s the one ingredient missing from Boy’s addictive brew. The other members compensate well, with the vocalists conjuring a few impressive moments within a pretty restrictive arrangement. The final product isn’t quite as sharp and streamlined as Shine, but it feels like Pentagon have really begun to establish their own unique sound.