Nearly nine years after his group’s debut, Infinite’s Dongwoo has finally released a solo album. Its been a long time coming. As one half of successful sub-unit Infinite H, his talent as a vocalist and rapper have positioned him to take on styles that aren’t usually associated with Infinite’s music. As a rabid Infinite fan, this puts me in an awkward position. Obviously, I adore Dongwoo. But, his musical touchstones don’t always align with mine. Such is the case with News — an oddly downbeat title track that precedes his military hiatus later this year.
Produced by BLSSD (one half of production team Rphabet, and the composer of Infinite’s 2018 single Tell Me), News draws on all of Dongwoo’s skills but muddles them within an overly dense soundscape. The song works its way through a lurching structure, vacillating between emotive moments of dark, minimalist crooning and synth-drenched, trap-inspired breakdowns. At the onset, it almost feels as if the track is going to grow into some twisted, shadowy version of Infinite’s Back, but the tempo never picks up.
I applaud the experimentation within the production itself. There are layers of interesting samples, including some evocative splashes of synth that point towards a much more interesting song. Its orchestral influences hearken back to the best of Infinite’s work, bringing a weighty atmosphere to a melody too simple to harness it. In the end, News feels more like an extended album intro. It certainly doesn’t sound like a title track, which actually makes it kind of ballsy. But as a showcase for Dongwoo, the song just doesn’t make much of an impact. Thankfully, News comes paired with a stronger partner in the form of Party Girl.