[Review] N.Flying trade freewheeling for restrictive on “Rooftop”

N.Flying have had a rough go of it over the past month, with bassist Kwangjin leaving the group among accusations of inappropriate online conduct. This came just days before the group was scheduled to release the second track in their year-long ‘Fly High‘ project.

‘Fly High’ seems to mirror the ambitious (and successful) 2017 promotions of fellow idol rock band DAY6, but so far it’s less defined. We know that there will be multiple songs released, supported by busking, music show performances, and a concert every two months. But, it remains to be seen exactly how much new music we’ll be getting in 2019.

While a project like this keeps N.Flying’s name in the news year-round, I worry that it comes at the expense of finely tuned title tracks. October’s “Like A Flower” was pretty but forgettable, and “Rooftop” doesn’t really stand out either. Its upbeat energy recaptures the giddy appeal of previous singles “The Real” and “Hot Potato“, but lacks the freewheeling nature that made those songs such growers.

In its place is a rock-solid, sing-along hook that feels very much like early FTIsland or CNBlue. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, since N.Flying hail from the same agency. But rather than enlist outside songwriters, “Rooftop” was composed by frontman/rapper Seunghyub. That explains why the song’s verses focus so heavily on rap. This emphasis works well for the most part, but I wish the song’s structure wasn’t so repetitive. The chorus needs some kind of modulation, as it just kind of lumbers in over and over without ever growing into anything interesting.

This arrangement reminds me of early 00’s American radio rock, which often took one crunchy guitar riff and ran it into the ground. “Rooftop” is better than that, but I miss the band’s inventive — almost improvisational — spirit.

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