AKMU’s newest release is a collaboration album, with each of its tracks featuring a guest artist. None of these guests feel too surprising or left-field, but their presence has inspired the duo to experiment with their sound. NAKKA (낙하) brings together AKMU and IU – a recipe for surefire chart success. But, the track also embraces unexpected electronic influence, resulting in a style we’ve never heard from either artist.
The last time an AKMU title track felt so synth-driven, the siblings were waxing poetic about youth in 2017’s Dinosaur. NAKKA is quite different, taking more inspiration from K-pop’s current synthwave trend. It’s still quirky in execution, yet feels like the duo’s answer to 2021’s crop of groovy idol releases. The rhythmic chorus isn’t too dissimilar from the beat drop hooks we hear so often. It’s buttressed by the trio’s idiosyncratic voices, but the menacing beat feels familiar.
AKMU play with the instrumental, giving NAKKA a sense of spontaneity that enhances its bite. There are some great hooks in here, though I’m not sure they come together in a way that feels wholly satisfying. I keep waiting for NAKKA to explode, but the song seems intent on pulling back at every turn. Surprisingly, IU is underutilized. The production threatens to overpower her tone, making this feel like a case of ‘big-name guest tacked on at the last moment.’ Even so, NAKKA’s sinuous rhythm has its charms, particularly when its icy synth line takes over and AKMU go all Blade Runner on us.