Infinite’s Woohyun wasted no time after military service, releasing new music just weeks after being discharged. He’s one of two Infinite members sticking with Woollim Entertainment, though it seems the guys have negotiated stipulations that allow them to remain active as a group. As I’ve mentioned before, Woohyun is one of my absolute favorite voices in K-pop. I’ll happily listen to him sing anything, though I much prefer a blazing dance track like 2019’s Hold On Me to the traditional ballads he often performs.
New single Calm & Passion (냉정과 열정 사이) falls somewhere in the middle of those extremes, and my opinion of the song mirrors that dichotomy. Woohyun has never released a title track in this style, though they’ve appeared as b-sides on his albums. This subdued, mid-tempo sound will never quite thrill me unless it’s driven by dynamic production or a super strong melody. Calm & Passion approaches both conditions, but never makes it over the line.
Speaking of lines, I love the bassline that supports the song’s verses. It gives Calm & Passion a groovy vibe, as if the track is ready to pounce. Woohyun’s vocal supports this style. It’s restrained but charismatic. The pre-chorus feels more rote, opting for a generic ‘pull back and build’ structure we hear too often in modern pop music. However, the instrumental scores bonus points for its sprinkling of guitar. It’s consistently atmospheric, like the soundtrack to some moody film. The two-part chorus opens with a minimalist rhythm before blossoming into a vocal-driven hook. Both pieces are too simple for my taste, but Woohyun lends enough nuance to make them work. Still, Calm & Passion is more “calm” than “passion.” Even though the song is nice, I would’ve preferred a gutsier comeback.