[Review] Kim Donghan leans into his Taemin fanboy on convincing, confident “Focus”

Kim Donghan is a self-professed Taemin fanboy, and his music is at its best when it leans heavily into those influences. He released two solo singles last year, and each left me with very different reactions. The Taemin-esque “Sunset rode on an addictive early-summer groove, but the overly trendy “Good Night Kiss totally fizzled. New single “Focus” splits the difference, but its strong points are more than enough to compensate for overly moody verses.

As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, I find the lurching, washed-out tones of future bass to be some of the ugliest-sounding music in recent memory, and the verses of “Focus” unfortunately borrow heavily from the style. Rather than catch fire and command attention, they feel like a lawnmower struggling to start. This hinders the song’s overall effect. Just when you’re really starting to get into the rhythm, the momentum suddenly shifts in dreary directions.

Luckily, “Focus” is the rare song that rebounds from this underwhelming arrangement. The groove-based chorus is simply too strong to be ignored, and it’s followed by an even better instrumental refrain that pierces through the murk with a bright, brilliant synthesized vocal line. This hook opens the track, and instantly grabbed my attention. Also, the tempo picks up during the pre-chorus, which offers a sense of build that contrasts with the lockstep structure of the chorus.

Throughout it all, Kim Donghan sounds more convincing and confident than ever before. His tone is not as unique as Taemin’s, but the producers arrange it well, chopping up his vocals to create an off-kilter sense of rhythm.

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