Co-ed quartet Kard is back after almost a year with its new track Icky, another of the group's signature steamy moombahton sounds.
"We didn't expect to take this long. We wanted the album to be good and we created every song very thoughtfully. The album is jam-packed with Kard's unique colours," the group's main vocalist Somin said at a joint interview with the local media on Thursday.
Icky marks the group's comeback in almost 11 months since the release of its fifth EP Re: in June 2022.
The group has been touring around Latin America with its concert series Wild Kard and renewed its contract with DSP Media, regaining the vigor it had lost for a time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leading the new album is its namesake title song, Icky, a groovy anthem of catchy beats and sensual vibes, underscored by the group's iconic moombahton sounds.
Making a sexy song for the band's wide range of listeners was difficult, according to the members J. Seph, BM, Somin and Jiwoo.
"The message (of the song) itself is suggestive, and we wanted to refrain from making it too explicit," said J. Seph, who contributed to writing the song's lyrics.
"There are a lot of innuendos," said BM, who is credited as the song's lyricist and composer, adding, "Many of our listeners are kids. We wanted to make the song fun for them, while making some twists for those who understand the implied meanings (behind the lyrics)."
BM explained that, in creating the song, they had "searched for songs with the keywords sexy, powerful and performance-centered, and this song was a perfect match. If Ring The Alarm had been more fresh and vigorous, Icky resonates a different energy -- passionate yet restrained."
Ring The Alarm is the title track of the band's previous album Re:.
Jiwoo said the group took on a new challenge with the song.
"'Icky' embodies a new sound for Kard. It's moombahton, but there's a twist. We wanted to show that there are different styles in moombahton," Jiwoo said.
"We liked the song the instant we heard it and later found out it was a moombahton. It was the kind of sound we wanted to show through this comeback," J. Seph added.
The group's co-ed nature added some color to "Icky," Somin explained.
"It's our strength that we can show love between a man and a woman through our vocals, rap and performance, and this song portrays that," she said. BM chimed in, adding, "The song itself is like a conversation between a man and a woman."
The album also includes Without You, which was pre-released in April. Two tracks, F*** You by Jiwoo and Somin, and Been That Boy by BM and J. Seph, are also listed on the package.
Rounding out the album is Cake, the quartet's first song made by themselves. BM composed and arranged the melody and the four members crafted the lyrics together.
Jiwoo said the song shows the group's synergy at its best.
"The recording went so smoothly that we went with the first version we recorded as a demo in BM's studio," she said.
Somin credited BM, noting he took the helm of the song's overall production. "BM always pulls out the potential of each member and knows how a co-ed team can stand out."
BM's eyes glowed as he shared his experience making Cake. "I still remember the excitement I felt while making this song. Imagination and inspiration flourished with it," he said.
The quartet debuted in 2016 with its mega-hit single Oh NaNa. For the past eight years, it has walked a lonesome path as a co-ed group with its signature moombahton style, still a minor genre in Korea.
The harsh reality of music in Korea is that K-pop idols are largely divided into sweet girl groups and heartthrob boy bands, followed by fans who often view them as their romantic counterparts -- a difficult landscape for the group to navigate.
But now, the bandmates highlight this difference as a key part of their identity.
"Looking back on the songs we have released until now, I'm just grateful that my voice is included on such masterpieces. (We are) a group that have made a smash with moombahton," Somin said.
Renewing its contract and opening a new chapter, Kard hopes to expand its listenership inside Korea.
"On the upside, I think the comparatively low popularity we have in Korea drives us to keep working for it. We call it our 'homework' because we have to accomplish it and we believe we're on the way to achieving it," Somin said. "Eventually, we hope to set the standards as a successful co-ed group."
With "Icky," the members aspire to prove themselves in the local market. BM hopes for a music show No. 1, while J. Seph aims to land in the local top 100 charts.
"We hope the song goes viral. We treasure it so much and we hope many people also enjoy it with us," BM said, adding, "Hopefully, our album could help people release stress and make them happier." — By Choi Ji-won/The Korea Herald/Asia News Network