Since their debut in the summer of 2017, ONF’s title track Why represents the only time the guys have made more than one comeback in a calendar year. That’s an insanely sparse schedule for a rookie group, driven by some factors that were out of their agency’s hands. Even this new mini album has been fraught with trouble, as member Laun announced his departure from the group just as they started releasing teasers. Fans have been patiently waiting for almost two months since then, and now the day has finally come.
While I would prefer to see the guys release material more frequently, I’m happy that their discography thus far has been quality over quantity. February’s We Must Love steered their synth-heavy sound in darker directions, and Why continues that approach. The song has an interesting composition, perched halfway between moody ballad and crushing dance track — not unlike agency-mates B1A4’s 2016 hit A Lie, actually. Right off the bat, we’re greeted by a dramatic verse that harnesses a tight melody and killer vocals to quickly establish the song’s angsty mood.
Now, you all know I’d rather hear something upbeat and fun when it comes to my boy group K-pop, but if you’re going to go moody, Why is the way to do it. Based on teasers alone, I was unsure if the loud, lumbering chorus was going to be for me, but it works much better within the context of the song. Its synth-sprinkled climax is particularly effective, drawing on a gorgeous vocal blend to add an extra spike of drama. However, Why’s true star is its propulsive second verse/pre-chorus. The tempo kicks up to near-frantic levels as the song’s electronic elements become more aggressive. Part of me wishes that this energy would have completely transformed Why’s second half, but even the brief crest that we get guarantees that the song never becomes boring. Four releases in, and ONF’s partnership with production team Monotree continues to bear fruit. Long may it last!