It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year and a half since we’ve last heard from KNK. They were one of the many groups screwed over by YG’s failed MIXNINE program, and the past year has seen them lose a member, part ways with their old agency and add a new face in the form of Lee Dong Won. In other words, things haven’t been easy. With all of these roadblocks, it’s a minor miracle that they’ve made a comeback at all.
It’s even more surprising that Lonely Night sees them paired once again with composer Kim Tae Joo. That kind of loyalty is heartening within such a fickle industry, and helps to give KNK’s music consistency even amongst all of the career changes. In fact, Lonely Night picks up right where 2017’s Rain left off. The guys continue to offer a moody — somewhat downcast — K-pop sound that feels well-suited to their style even if it’s not something I personally enjoy all that much.
After a muted instrumental opening, Lonely Night launches into its rap-driven verse. There are way too many vocal effects slathered over the top, giving these segments a warped, echoey sound that’s trendy but ineffective. This continues into the second verse, and strips the performances of any idiosyncrasies they might otherwise have. Thankful, the jazzy, vocal-driven chorus is infinitely stronger. There’s not much in the way of melodic complexity, but the repeated power note quickly digs us out of the murk and feels like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise claustrophobic arrangement. Lonely Night isn’t the knockout return I’d wished for, but I hope it points toward stronger things to come.