Short of their third debut anniversary, Imfact seems to have finally found a sound to call their own. As it goes for many rookie groups, their past singles have covered a variety of fleeting styles — from the saccharine “Lollipop,” to the badass “Feel so Good,” to the interesting drum and bass of “The Light” — in the hopes of a breakthrough.
While that has yet to happen, last year brought significant attention to the quintet. Their participation at KCon 2018 in Los Angeles, where they performed their last single “NaNaNa” live for the first time, attracted numerous fans and welcome foreign media coverage. The song presented a refreshing deep house sound, highlighting the contrasting vocals of Jeup, Taeho, and Ungjae for an addictive hook.
“Only U” follows the same formula, although slightly more cheerful. A relaxing guitar sets the mood as the song progresses into its juxtaposed chorus. Jeup and Taeho’s melodic voices seem to have been made to meld with Ungjae’s rough tones, recreating the best aspects of “NaNaNa” one more time. The group-chanted bridge appeals to stadium anthem vibes, and the song finishes with an explosive EDM drop.
This release might not be the most outstanding effort, but it’s still a pleasant listen, worthy of a few replays. Its greatest sin lies in not taking full advantage of the group’s evident potential. When music is rarely the most important part of a K-pop group, Imfact could well benefit from an interesting storyline, concept, or even a creative MV. Budget plays a big role in those choices, but Star Empire has proven they can deliver when they want to — “NaNaNa” itself had stunning shots of the members running through urban landscapes, and Nine Muses had the memorable containers in “Hurt Locker,” just to give out a few examples.
The MV for “Only U” is, unfortunately, a complete letdown. At first, it reminded me of a grown-up version of GOT7’s “Just Right,” as the members of the group interact with the woman in little quirky ways. But while “Just Right” encourages a young girl who is worried about beauty standards, “Only U” has Imfact acting like sneaky fairies, choosing the woman’s clothes and helping her clumsy cooking — in a narrative that reinforces the passive female trope.
Looking at the lyrics, the message doesn’t get much better:
You still don’t really know
How beautiful you are
Stop looking in the mirror and look at me
Thank you for being my girl
Sometimes, when I act like a playboy
You always get mad
Every time you do that, you’re so cute I go crazy
Hints of possessiveness and thriving off of women’s insecurities shouldn’t be presented as harmless play like this release suggests. Adding to all this, the glossy filter on the video and the shot where the woman falls asleep suggest that Imfact might only be a dream in her head. This feeds yet another delusional idol-fan relationship, where five grown men are marketed as only having eyes for one woman (who’s also placed there as a representation of the fans.) And, conveniently, she can’t seem to be happy or to do anything right without them.
In the final moments of the MV, the woman is finally able to interact with the group, partaking in a feast with cake and colorful glasses. Still, it’s unconfirmed if that encounter represents reality or just another flick of imagination, and the overall story remains foggy. Is she awake? Is she still dreaming? Is she trapped in an alternate reality with mischievous boys setting off fireworks every night?
Imfact might have found their signature sound with “Only U,” but have yet to develop that same uniqueness in the many other aspects that encompass a solid K-pop group.