Though he may not receive the same level of attention as other production teams, Ryan Jhun has been a K-pop architect for over a decade now. His touch can be found in many modern classics (View, Love Me Right, Dumb Dumb, Lucifer, My First And Last, Baby Don’t Stop etc etc etc) and his name still pops up regularly on mini albums from a wide variety of acts and agencies. When considering his most iconic work, I envision immense choruses and robust, funk-influenced instrumentals.
Maniac marks the first half of Jhun’s new Maxis project, which puts his name front and center. It’s a smart move for any producer seeking a boost in notoriety, though the song’s guest vocalists are sure to draw the most attention. Maniac is performed by NCT’s Doyoung and Haechan. Neither appear in the music video, but their voices drive the project forward. It’s so nice to hear two of NCT’s fantastic vocalists on a unit song that’s not a ballad.
As I had hoped, Maniac draws upon the funkier side of Jhun’s work, harnessing an exciting rhythm punctuated by blasts of bright brass. The instrumental is straightforward and enjoyable, striking a satisfying balance between upbeat and chill. A full group version of this song would have made room for more dynamic highs and lows, but there’s something gratifying about the purity of Maniac’s groove. Meanwhile, the chorus swells with just enough melodic drama to act as a suitable climax. It becomes more rousing as the track goes on, taking advantage of the guys’ alluring performance.