[Review] KNK’s “Sunset” is good but frustratingly close to being great

KNK made a long-awaited return this January with new member Lee Dongwon. And although title track “Lonely Night didn’t exactly set the world on fire, it was a good first step towards reestablishing the group’s standing after a nearly 18-month hiatus. Now that they’re back, the guys can move on to more interesting sounds. New single “Sunset” pushes the KNK style into unforeseen territories, pulsing with a captivating injection of electro bass.

Though still in its early stages, I’ve noticed an under-the-radar trend of club beats making their way into 2019’s K-pop oeuvre. EDM subgenres like trance and techno have begun popping up with more frequency. So far, Stray Kids seem to be the leaders of this burgeoning trend, but a song like “Sunset” hitches its wagon to the same general aesthetic.

“Sunset” has a slinky bassline as its most prominent element, present throughout most of the track in one way or another. Thankfully, this is complimented by a steady, uptempo beat that keeps the energy up. Many songs of this nature would be tempted to lurch into ill-conceived trap breakdowns (which nearly happens during verse two), but “Sunset” has a refreshingly straightforward structure. Its spoken word hook gets repetitive quickly, but is nicely balanced by standout verses.

In this day and age, it’s rare to find a K-pop title track in which the verses are the highlight, but the blend of hypnotic instrumental and engrossing melody makes for a perfect match. Even the requisite post-chorus rap break works better than expected. A secondary refrain after the song’s spoken centerpiece might have shot this into the stratosphere, as “Sunset” lacks just a bit of climactic punch. Still, this is a very welcome reinvention of KNK’s sound.

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