KARD debuted just at the right time. In late 2016, K-pop’s appetite for tropical pop was still high, and the group rode that trend to great international success throughout their first year. Things stalled a bit last summer, just as their sound began to feel more generic. No matter how successful a group may be, they need to branch out eventually, and Ride On The Wind wasn’t distinct enough to stand out. New single Bomb Bomb (밤밤) feels much more in line with the diverse b-sides from their albums. This shift will likely gain them renewed attention, but the song’s rap-heavy structure doesn’t make for a very appealing listen.
Rather than impress with a strong melody or interesting musical palette, Bomb Bomb throws all its attention on energy. It’s a specific kind of energy — blustering and loud and not particularly palatable for those of us not enamored with this style. When not auto-tuned to death, male members BM and Jseph spend much of their time shouting and swaggering. It’s the aural equivalent of puffing up your chest, and it comes across as kind of silly and very broad. The girls fare better, but they’re not given enough to do. Bomb Bomb lacks a strong chorus, opting for a noisy chant over a fully fleshed out hook.
Unfortunately, this simplistic approach is coupled with an irritating instrumental loop that recalls the sound of a streaky windowpane, wiped to the point that it starts to squeak. I can appreciate how this boisterous cacophony could be fun in a club setting, but I find it needlessly combative and off-putting. Sadly, Bomb Bomb doesn’t feature enough redeeming qualities to compensate, no matter how charismatic the group may be.
This is the ultimate evidence we needed to prove KARD a bluff.
Their pre-debut phase was surprinsingly overpromising, compared to what followed after that. Probably they worked at the very beginning as a marketing wonder due to their peculiar lineup, but they have never had any other substance in their concept and in their music. And according to Bomb Bomb they will never have as well.
KARD’s story is very peculiar in the sense that their pre-debut era, based on variations of the tropical pop sound, was appealing and promising regarding new sounds to come. Yet, they failed to deliver any strong releases after their official debut. The generic and/or bombastic to the point of being annoying trend the group seems to embrace is a pass for me. That’s too bad considering the group has talent. It’s just not used rightfully and Bomb Bomb illustrates that.
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I can see how some listeners will love this. It certainly brings the energy, but the overall sound just isn’t for me.
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