[Review] UNB use hybrid sound to create an energetic, theatrical dance track, “Black Heart”

When producers LDN Noise and Ryan S. Jhun collaborate, we tend to get instant classics. From Married To The Music to Dumb Dumb, their track record is incredibly strong. And frankly, I’m surprised that KBS was willing to secure such behind-the-scenes star power for UNB. It would be easy to saddle the temporary project group with generic fluff and simply rely on their brand recognition, but “Black Heart” makes an effort, and that pays off tremendously.

The song is refreshingly old school, disarmingly inventive and a whole lot of fun. I’ve been missing K-pop’s funk influences in this era of cut-and-paste electronic beats, and “Black Heart”’s hybrid instrumental delivers in this regard. Fusing jazz piano with hard-hitting EDM production was an ingenious move, and the balance here is just right. It doesn’t sound too gimmicky, but the addition of live instrumentation gives the track’s electronic elements necessary warmth and grounds them in a more primal appeal.

To their credit, UNB absolutely attack the song. Throughout most of “Black Heart”, their vocals are layered, providing plenty of opportunity for interesting harmonic moments and sweeping arrangements. The track’s theatrical melody calls for an unending supply of energy, and even in its quieter moments “Black Heart” crackles with excitement. I love the punky vocal hook that opens the track, shredding the baroque piano introduction with bratty glee. And even though “Black Heart” is most strongly a performance piece, there are some brilliant ad-libs sewn into its mix. This, along with the chorus’s effortlessly anthemic surge, results in the kind of explosive dance track we haven’t heard from K-pop for awhile.

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