KARD is the Essence of Summer in “Ride on the Wind”
KARD is back on the scene with their third mini-album Ride on the Wind! As the teaser images have suggested, the album is very summer-focused in both concept and sound.
The Title Track
“Ride on the Wind” is an EDM-driven track that definitely focuses more on vocals than rap, even to the point that rapper J.Seph begins the song with a vocal verse. Truthfully speaking, “Ride on the Wind” is rather underwhelming as a title track, especially when compared to “You in Me” or even “Hola Hola.” While musically it is similar to “Hola Hola,” it lacks a certain unique flavor that “Hola Hola” managed to have. The track itself is a very generic EDM and pop-infused sound without much that differentiates it.
The visuals are what really save this release. Aside from shooting on a beautiful beach setting, the overall color of the video is perfect for this mid-summer release, evoking the beautiful visuals of the crystal clear sea and gorgeous forest. The brightness of each member’s outfit is also a perfect fit, and it’s truly somewhat of a shame that the track to go along with these visuals is rather underwhelming.
Some of the criticism can be patted down with the additional tracks on the mini-album. Aside from “Ride on the Wind,” the album contains intro “Humming” and three other tracks, “Moonlight,” “Knockin’ on my Heaven’s Door,” and “Dimelo.”
“Moonlight” is another EDM-focused track that has less of a generic sound, but the melody line that has Somin and Jiwoo singing from the top of an octave and straight down is a little strange. Not because the two lack the vocals skills to pull it off, it’s just that the strange melody line is so continuous and repetitive that it starts to become somewhat of an annoyance.
“Knockin’ on my Heaven’s Door” changes up the sound of the album with a more reggae focused beat that has a slower tempo than both previous tracks by a noticeable amount. However, much like “Ride on the Wind,” there’s not much about the track that gives it a unique flavor or makes it stand out. It’s a very generic R&B reggae sound.
“Dimelo” is probably the best track on the album, with a Latin flavor and character added to the melody and lyrics. Much like Super Junior’s “Lo Siento” release, KARD actually has some lyrics on this track in Spanish to fit the island vibe. I believe that this song definitely showcases more of what KARD is capable of, and probably should have been the title track, since it has the summer vibe to perfectly fit the visuals as well.
Truthfully, I was hoping for a lot more from KARD after such stellar previous releases. Ride on the Wind left a lot to be desired in comparison to the debut mini-album and You & Me. KARD has proven before that they are capable of creating great music since pre-debut, but Ride on the Wind feels like there was less preparation put into it in comparison to other albums. Even if the group felt the need to return to the lighter sound of Hola Hola for the summer months, there was a lot more that could have been done with Ride on the Wind, which is basic to a fault, in my humble opinion.
As far as a basic, catchy summer single goes, “Ride on the Wind” has a certain level of mass appeal, but pales in comparison to previous releases. While I recognize that I tend to be biased toward KARD’s darker sound, I also believe they have a pretty good handle on the lighter stuff as well. The album itself is not bad, but more important than that, it’s not great. KARD has set a certain standard for themselves up until this point, and it’s a little disappointing to see them take a step back from that.
All of that being said, KARD is a very talented group that certainly doesn’t deserve to be overlooked because of this one fluke in their discography.