[Review] KARD find their groove within the bombast on “Red Moon”

KARD have publicly talked about their difficulties finding music within the K-pop industry that’s written for a co-ed group. Their mixed configuration has become a distinct calling card, but also boxed them in. Compared to single-sex groups, it feels like they’re more limited when it comes to concept. Perhaps because of this, their 2019 work catered to their hype side, dialing back melody in favor of big, aggressive beats. It wasn’t for me.

New single Red Moon brings KARD back to the tropical sounds that characterized their first two years. This is a musical trend that has largely passed, but it was always well-suited to their performance style. There’s a certain level of comfort in hearing them return to a (slightly) more melodic sound, even if Red Moon isn’t quite as strong as their first four singles.

Grooving over a moombahton beat, most of the track is exactly what you’d expect. The verses are fine, even though they’re driven by the same in-your-face posturing that made their last two singles so irritating. I would have loved to hear more innovation here, especially during that awful trap break that follows the first chorus. The members have an undeniable charisma, but I think it could have been channeled into a more interesting structure.

Luckily, Red Moon heats up during its chorus. The first half offers a decent (though heavily autotuned) refrain before taking a hard turn towards more compelling territory. The percussion grows bombastic and exciting here, coupled with an addictive chant that feels like the hook last year’s Bomb Bomb and Dumb Litty were desperately seeking. Smartly, Red Moon comes in at just under three minutes. There’s not enough time for its chorus to become stale, and its brevity should keep listeners coming back for more.

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IATFB says: Obviously I preferred their earlier sound, which had a lot more focus on melody, but they seem to be getting better at mixing the bombast with melody as they settle into their new normal with an emphasis on performance. Also, man they all look amazing in this comeback.

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