Though they participated in last year’s Kingdom: Legendary War, iKON haven’t made a comeback since just before that competition started. Blame YG Entertainment’s always-slow promotional approach, I guess. Since losing leader B.I in 2019, the band has undergone big changes and But You’s switch to moody synth-pop has to be their most drastic sonic switch-up yet.
This isn’t without precedent. Synth sounds are everywhere these days, and iKON are only the latest to jump on the bandwagon. But coming on the heels of a couple good-not-great title tracks, this makeover is quite welcome. This is easily the strongest iKON title in years, and may just be one of the strongest titles we’ve heard so far this year.
But You (너라는 이유) isn’t particularly ambitious, but it nails its sound and sentiment without needless detours. This style of synth-driven pop requires a strong through-line, and the track curves and crests in all the right places. Its electronic beat remains steady, leaving room for extra drama during the chorus. The verses glide on a beautiful melody that’s instantly memorable. It’s rare to hear this melodic focus in K-pop verses, which are often structured to give every performer the chance to interject a throwaway line or two. With such a strong set-up, But You’s chorus is a little underwhelming. I’m confident it’ll grow with time, and I love its cathartic climax. But, I wish the first half of the chorus delivered just a bit more oomph. Because of this, I’m waffling at the edge of a “9” rating. I can see the song getting there in the coming weeks.