Who would have thought that 2022 would be the year of 2nd gen comebacks. With Bigbang, 2NE1 (kinda) and SNSD already making their mark this year with landmark comebacks, KARA’s grand return comes as arguably the biggest surprise. With the shock loss of core member Goo Hara back in 2019, it seemed as though the fabled KARA comeback would always remain that. A fable. As such, When I Move comes as a massive surprise and the first song to get me out of my post exam (depression) writing drought. And though harbouring many of the qualities that made KARA such a force in the first place, it lacks the extra charm needed to make it feel truly special.
Now let me preface this by saying that I don’t think When I Move is bad. In fact I think it’s actually quite good. But when compared to hits of old and the sheer expectations I harboured coming into this, It just falls short. I mean just listen to songs like Lupin, STEP, Pandora, Mr, Mamma Mia, Damaged Lady, Jumping. They all felt like they had weight. Impact. Even something like Honey (a guilty pleasure for sure but one I’ll defend with my life) felt substantial. And much of that could be attributed to the production. KARA have always had a vocal blend to be reckoned with. And though it could be said that Sweetune’s trademark production touches always helped elevate their material to those euphoric levels, producers duble sidekick proved the same could be done at the hands of different producers on the seminal Mamma Mia. And when viewed through such a lens, I feel as though When I Move could have really gone bigger. The melody is there. The vocals are there. It just needs that extra kick. The chorus has the makings of something truly magnetic, pulsing forward with the aforementioned power and weight vocally but feels slightly held back by a production that fails to match the intensity.
But I say this as someone who was expecting pure, undiluted excellence and nothing less. KARA were (and still are) one of my favourite acts in all of Kpop and so expectations proved to be a real curse on my first listen. Though my criticism of the chorus remains, further listens have already helped bring out some of the centrepieces charms. A positive sign for the longevity of the track heading into my end of year lists.
Elsewhere, When I Move is quite enjoyable. The verses especially work very well, employing a pulsing instrumentation that maintains a solid groove whilst still acting as a great playground for the quintet to really stretch their performance in directions that feel both new yet oddly familiar. A characteristic that I just happen to adore in this context. It’s a distinctly KARA performance but one that feels tethered to both a new age and sound. A sign of fitting into current trends whilst still retaining the charm and sound that made them such a force to begin with. It proves be absolutely magnetic at times and while the slow down during the bridge could have been handled better, a small dose of electric guitar does wonders to keep it afloat before we return to the beating, melodic heart of the track. When I Move may not come close to the titans of KARA’s stellar discography but it does stand as a great reminder of what makes them so great. It stands as another wonderful 2022 reunion and one that solidified its greatness courtesy of a majestic medley of hits during tonights MAMA.
Final Rating: 8.5 / 10