KARD are back with their second album, “You & Me”, a 6-track EP that came out on the 21st November, accompanied by a music video for the title track “You In Me”. While we will only be reviewing the digital version of the release, fans of the 4-member co-ed group from DSP Media will be glad to know that the physical copy includes 3 more tracks, including two instrumentals and an extra all-member version of the track “Trust Me”.
- INTO YOU
The album begins with a sweeping and epic emotional ballad full of majestic vocal harmonies, chord sequences and an interesting arrangement which starts from pianos and builds up to booming EDM breakdowns. One of the best songs on the album, it makes an appropriately strong impression and paves the way for a musical journey that is darker and more mature than that of their first album, “Hola Hola”, which in comparison was brighter, more cheerful and less thematically consistent.
- Trust Me (J.seph & Jiwoo Ver.)
The first of two (three if you have the physical album) versions of “Trust Me” follows; compared to “INTO YOU”, it’s definitely more laid-back and consistent in its arrangement, using the same rolling drum beat throughout and interspersing with dreamy pads and synths to accompany Jiwoo’s sultry vocals. While not the most exciting of melodies or song arrangements, Jiwoo’s soft and smooth voice is definitely a highlight, and J.seph’s rap verse accompanied only by drums is an interesting twist; however, it’s far from the best song on the album or indeed particularly memorable by itself.
- Push & Pull
The next song harkens back to KARD’s debut sound, bringing back the tropical house vibes and introducing an interesting and catchy “push and pull” chorus hook. The prechorus melody is particularly nice and there are some nice vocal harmonies in the song; the rappers also adopt a slightly different style and flow more appropriate to a Caribbean-influenced sound, showing impressive versatility. Instrumentally, however, the arrangement is rather dull and does not bring the cheerfulness and groove expected of a song with this kind of tropical influence, or indeed KARD’s songs in general.
Bringing the album to its latter half, “Jinikka” shows a different side to KARD’s music and develops the darker style they first introduced with songs like “Don’t Recall” and “Rumor”; “Jinikka” is decidedly more mature and sombre, opting for sinister buzzing synths and discordant notes with Jiwoo and Somin’s haunting vocals layered on top and BM and J.seph’s growling rap adding contrast. One of the other stronger songs on the album, its greatest contribution is to cement the darker theme of the album and provide a base from which the next song can develop it further:
- You In Me
As the title song of the album, “You In Me” is much closer to the signature KARD sound we’ve grown accustomed to, with a powerful melodic chorus and epic instrumental hook creating a catchy yet melancholy song that makes you want to dance and cry at the same time. As mentioned in our review of the music video, its only weakness is its similarity to KARD’s previous singles; nevertheless, within the context of the album, it definitely has its place and relatively speaking is one of the best and most KARD-like songs there.
- Trust Me (BM & Somin Ver.)
You’d be forgiven for expecting the second version of “Trust Me” to be the same as the first but with different vocals; in fact, the final song on the album is arranged completely differently, borrowing only the laid-back chill vibe and muffled pads and synths. Effectively a different song, BM and Somin’s version is slower and more relaxed, using a half-time beat (compared to the fast beat of J.seph and Jiwoo’s version), and is pleasantly easy to listen to, rounding out the album nicely and very gently.
Overall, the album is a strong follow-up to KARD’s first EP, lacking the catchy bangers of the latter but making up for it in maturity, artistic development and thematic cohesiveness. While there are objectively more good songs on their first album, “You & Me” paints a relatively more interesting and coherent musical picture than “Hola Hola”; this is a great sign for the potential of their future releases and the album definitely raises hopes for an even better full-length album in 2018.
Review by Vivien W.