FNC Entertainment’s first-ever boy group Sensational Feeling 9, shortened to SF9, is back with their third mini album, Knights of the Sun, to commemorate their one-year debut anniversary. The group debuted in 2016 after winning the company’s survival television program, d.o.b (Dance or Band), with nine members: Youngbin, Inseong, Dawon, Jaeyoon, Rowoon, Zuho, Taeyang, Hwiyoung, and Chani. New and old fans of the group alike, beware: the SF9 members are ready to be your knights in shining armor with this sensational record full of sizzling charm and endless tunes.
SF9 is an interesting group because their music style is always evolving. From their debut single “Fanfare” to “Easy Love,” SF9 has dabbled in various concepts from “alpha-male” to “bleeding heart” and is now onto a Latin-flavored concept with their latest comeback, “O Sole Mio.”
Meaning “my sunshine” in Italian, “O Sole Mio” is a heavily Latin-infused title track very similar to “Despacito” in that the chorus, with its thick beats and catchy hook, will get stuck in your head in an instant, whether you want it to or not. With lyrics in Korean, English, Spanish, Italian, and Latin all in one song, the members of SF9 easily absorb global influences that aren’t typically heard in K-Pop and make them their own in a fun, refreshing way. And their international outreach is working; “O Sole Mio” is the fastest SF9 comeback to reach a million views, in just four days. Add in their air-tight choreography that mixes in hints of flamenco and even matador-inspired cape waving, and “O Sole Mio” is the perfectly unforgettable, spicy, end-of-summer jam.
The mini-album’s subsequent tracks hold their own as well. “빈칸 (Blank)” is a smooth grooving, R&B-influenced track that allows the group’s vocal line to take the forefront. The sweet-sounding track almost sounds like it could be part of an OST for a drama, with its swinging full band in the background providing piano trills and trumpets that really complement the group’s calming vocal tones. The song also has a fun juxtaposition between the lyrics and melody; despite the song’s upbeat melody, the group croons about not being able to fill the blank in their heart after losing their significant other.
For fans of SF9’s more aggressive tones and toughened image, their track “불호령 (Scold/Command)” harkens back to past comebacks “Roar” and “Fanfare” with its fast, impressive rapping from members Zuho, Chani, and Youngbin. The song’s vocals are on display in the forceful, grinding pre-chorus which contributes to the feeling of getting scolded. The chorus gives the listener a small reprieve before they’re back to rapping, speaking about the hardships they’ve faced throughout their trainee and idol careers: “I waited a few years / breathe out / it was really hard for me / I will not sit till I see the end of this, don’t stop.” If you’re looking for a hardcore, heavy rap track from SF9, this song is for you; if not, this may be a track that you’ll want to skip.
Whether it’s the fiery rapping, slow-grooving mid-tempo ballads, or Latin-influenced tracks that you’ll be singing in your sleep, Knights of the Sun has something for everyone and really highlights just how versatile a group SF9 is. In a month crammed to the brim with all-star comebacks, this album holds its own against big competitors and without a doubt proves why SF9, if they aren’t already, wholeheartedly deserve a place on your Spotify, MelOn, or iTunes playlist.