Song Review: KEEMBO – Inside

Sweetune’s partnership with vocal duo KEEMBO has often felt like “Sweetune go indie,” which explains why most of the songs haven’t bowled me over the way I’m used to with these producers. Rather than go big and bombastic with idol groups in mind, tracks like Scene and 99 felt slightly more left-of-center. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not what I’d hope for either. New single Inside (인사이드) heralds the release of KEEMBO’s first full album, and delivers a more upbeat, disco vibe.

There are touches of past glories to be found here, even if Inside never builds to anything transcendent. But, that’s not to say it’s a disappointing track. Its dancefloor-ready beat is refreshingly straightforward, and pulses along a blend of electro squiggles and guitar to achieve a very satisfying groove. I especially appreciate the elastic bassline, which grounds the entire song in a sense of loose, head-nodding funk.

Sweetune’s trademark vocal layering only rears its head during Inside‘s evocative post-chorus hook. KEEMBO are such strong singers that they don’t need the assist, but it says something about the song’s melody that my favorite part is a swirling, almost amorphous bit of wispy, wordless ad-libs. The biggest drawback here is the absence of a strong chorus. What we get is pleasant and fits the vibe of the track, but also feels melodically safe. Still, the engaging instrumental and strong vocal performance make this another highlight from KEEMBO. I have a feeling it will sound even better within the context of their album.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8

8 thoughts on “Song Review: KEEMBO – Inside

  1. Well, hey this song is pretty good. The guitar and bass are refreshingly live and awesome. This is what it sounds like to hire real musicians to dig into a song.

    Keembo are flying so under the radar that even when I have them on my radar – subscription to their youtube channel – I didn’t even see this one pop up. It didn’t make it onto the weekly Kville new releases yesterday morning either, or my usual kpopmap go to daily release list.

    But, oh, that bassist. I am in love with the bass line.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Having loved SPICA since I first heard “Painkiller”, it makes sense that I’m a fan of Boa and Bohyung. As a duo, they’ve been prolific by K-pop standards. Most of what they’ve released till now has been.. I’d expect to hear any of those tracks in a café or safe work environment. That’s not a bad sentiment; per se.

    I know what both ladies are capable of. Either has the chops to make your head swim or your heart ache. Together, they could deliver a killer track. I keep waiting for them to release something that makes me say, “Oh yeah, there it is!”.

    Then there’s “Inside”. The music starts and I raise an eyebrow. Hmm. Is this the song I’ve been waiting for? The singing starts, the music shifts. First hiccup, the music sounds vaguely like mamamoo’s “Wanna Be Myself”. Not a biggie, let’s move on. Take in the music and singing. Second hiccup, the vocals sound separated from the music. Almost as if two different sound crews were processing each part, then mixed them together without taking into account the impact each would have on the other in the final result. The music is dynamic and spectral. The vocals are squarely positioned in the center and seem flat. I spend the rest of the song distracted and trying to fuse the vocals and the music. Oops.

    Shame. If greater care had been applied to make the vocals seem rich and spacious, I would’ve considered this their best release yet.


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