Before enlisting in the military, two out of three members of Infinite have preceded their absence with a solo album. Now that main vocal Woohyun is back with new material, I can’t help but think he’ll be going on hiatus soon. This makes “Hold On Me” bittersweet, to say the least.
Woohyun faces stiff competition, but I think I’ve settled on him being my favorite vocalist in K-pop. Not only is his tone rich and his technique powerful, but he has a way of attacking every song he sings. Even during the quieter ballads, he finds a way to imbue each note with a certain pathos. Sometimes it goes over the top into cheeseball territory, but it’s never boring.
With this said, I’ve been disappointed that the vast majority of his solo work has been relegated to ballads and mid-tempos. He excels at these styles, but his work with Infinite reveals a much more galvanizing performer. He can belt it out like nobody’s business, eliciting goosebumps in tandem with instrumentals that match his intensity.
So, when I saw that his latest album would be titled ‘A New Journey,’ I hoped that he meant this phrase literally. It turns out I was in luck, because “Hold On Me” is a chugging power-pop-meets-Latin-guitar anthem. It may not fully showcase his skills (where’s the obligatory power note, Woohyun?) — and features wholly unnecessary interjections from rapper Junoflo — but as a full package I can’t say that I’m disappointed.
Composed by up-and-comers Code 9, “Hold On Me” bounds out of the gate immediately. Its verses offer instant momentum, driven by brisk phrasing that launches perfectly into the stadium-ready pre-chorus. The actual chorus is less developed, relying almost entirely on a guitar-driven instrumental riff. However, this hook is so potent and simple that “Hold On Me” gets away with its beat drop formula. A knockout bridge would have sent this soaring into the stratosphere, but I’m more than pleased with the new journey Woohyun delivered. Pair this with 2016’s “Everyday” and you’ve got a two-track rock concert worth seeking out.