KNK made a long-awaited return this January with new member Lee Dongwon. And although title track Lonely Night didn’t exactly set the world on fire, it was a good first step towards reestablishing the group’s standing after a nearly 18-month hiatus. Now that they’re back, the guys can move on to more interesting sounds. New single Sunset pushes the KNK style into unforeseen territories, pulsing with a captivating injection of electro bass.
Though still in its early stages, I’ve noticed an under-the-radar trend of club beats making their way into 2019’s K-pop oeuvre. EDM subgenres like trance and techno have begun popping up with more frequency. So far, Stray Kids seem to be the leaders of this burgeoning trend, but a song like Sunset hitches its wagon to the same general aesthetic.
Sunset’s slinky bassline is its most prominent element, present throughout most of the track in one way or another. Thankfully, this is complimented by a steady, uptempo beat that keeps the energy up. Many songs of this nature would be tempted to lurch into ill-conceived trap breakdowns (which nearly happens during verse two), but Sunset has a refreshingly straightforward structure. Its spoken word hook gets repetitive quickly, but is nicely balanced by standout verses.
In this day and age, it’s rare to find a K-pop title track in which the verses are the highlight, but Sunset’s blend of hypnotic instrumental and engrossing melody makes for a perfect match. Even the requisite post-chorus rap break works better than expected. A secondary refrain after the song’s spoken centerpiece might have shot this into the stratosphere, as Sunset lacks just a bit of climactic punch. Still, this is a very welcome reinvention of KNK’s sound.