The last time co-ed group KARD had a full-fledged comeback was in July of 2018 with their third mini-album, Ride on the Wind. February 12 marked the release of their fourth mini-album, Red Moon. The tracks are filled with their well-known catchy hooks and Latin influences while also showcasing twists of intensity as the album progresses. Red Moon demonstrates KARD’s growth as artists as they experiment throughout the five tracks while indicating the emergence of a cohesive sound for the group.

The mini’s title, Red Moon, and its cover art demonstrates the new direction KARD is taking with their latest release. The color red automatically calls to mind more aggressivity. In line with this, KARD comes in with a harder beat-heavy sound with Red Moon. The group has some of their most sonically fierce—and lyric-wise as well—tracks on this album.

Combined with the fiery full moon hovering above on Red Moon‘s cover, one might think of a blood moon. This phenomenon, which occurred last year, happens during a lunar eclipse when the moon passes Earth’s shadow. Red Moon’s cover design reflects this in the title details as the two “o”s in “Moon” are interconnected.

Throughout history, there have been contrasting associations with the blood moon. Some found it to be a sign of evil and wrath, while others saw the phenomenon in a more positive light. Some cultures saw the moon as wounded or ill causing them to desire to heal this affliction. Others were in awe of the blood moon and saw what was possible in nature.

The complexity and strength of the blood moon is channeled into KARD’s Red Moon. The mini-albums five tracks have a natural cohesion to them. This flow is as a result of the unfolding relationship-based narrative that grows in intensity from “Go Baby” to “Dumb Litty.” “Go Baby” starts with the end of a romantic relationship, while the other songs reflect on that relationship with the group finding their identity without that other person. The tracks’ sonic similarities also contribute strongly to this cohesion as there are echoes of familiar chorus structure in each song, featuring the repeat of a certain phrase.

“Go Baby” kicks off Red Moon on a confident note that also evokes a similar feel to their past songs. The track, with lyrics by BM and J.SEPH and composition and arrangement credited to BM, is more laid back than the others on the mini. The lighter vocals paired with the Latin-inspired instrumentals and the steady beat, which takes more of a backseat, contribute to this relaxed beginning. “Go Baby” tells the story of a relationship ended as the members say goodbye to their ex-significant other.

The lyrics, however, indicate the farewell is said with a good riddance kind of attitude, which matches the lighter sound of the song as KARD asserts,

“Heard that you have been feeling good

But I’ve been feeling better

Without shedding a single tear, I removed all feelings for you

Feeling like a boss and I know you see it all.”

As the love turns to break up, the quartet admits that it was tough at first—because “fiery love ends with fiery breakup”—but then they gain the confidence at the chorus to simply say, “Go baby girl” and “Go baby boy.”

The title track, “Red Moon,” with lyric credit to BM, comes in with a harder and more impactful beat, growing from the chill vibe of “Go Baby.” Listeners also hear the Latin influence that is consistent with KARD’s discography. The chorus of “Red Moon” further points to a noticeable KARD sound with the repetition of the phrase “run baby run,” which comes after BM asserts, “Switch it up.” Their voices are surrounded by more synths and more sounds weaving in and out of each other.

The lyrics of an early verse of “Red Moon” automatically hooks the song into its title: “My scattered mind and heart / revolves around you tonight / impeccable red moonlight / puts me on hold.” The group sings about pure attraction while also referencing the “blood moon” phenomenon. They look back on the relationship and what drew them to it in the first place.

While Red Moon finds KARD starting to solidify a unique sound, the mini-album also showcases the individual strengths of the members. “Enemy” unveils how Jiwoo and Somin’s voices work together in a duet. This song slows down the pace sonically, then builds back up before the chorus with staccato beats and an EDM sound at the drop.

As Jiwoo and Somin’s voices grow to reach the second chorus, a stronger beat enters to accentuate the track’s particularly impactful lyrics. The two reflect on their awareness of the relationship that is not as good as it seems singing, “the doubtful ending / Breaking the silence and struggle more vigorously what / Impudent hypocrisy / The end of it is a mirage, and / Go to Hell.” They break the illusion of this supposed love with their assertive conclusion, “If this is love, I don’t want it.”

Meanwhile, BM and J.SEPH bring the fire with “Inferno.” With this track, BM is noted to have credit for the lyrics, composition, and arrangement, while J.SEPH has lyric recognition. “Inferno” leans toward the dangerous associations with the blood moon as the song starts with an aggressive quick beat prior to J.SEPH’s verse and presents listeners with darker beats as the track progresses.

Furthermore, besides the unexpected unease that arises from the specific combination of sounds in “Inferno,” there is an alarm that blasts and reverberates at a decreasing volume in the pre-chorus. This then leads into the chaotic chorus where BM and J.SEPH shout their words roughly at a pitch, letting their words reach a peak and then fade away.

The two confront those who look down on their success and declare that there is more from where “Inferno” came from, as they rap,

“I just do my thing without having time to consider revenge

Just look down on them without any hard feelings

Things that scare me, about 80 percent of them

Are the expectations from family, company, and friends

The contract as if I’m scared of the trap called failure

My days are not numbered.”

They continue as they say with confidence, “raise our expectation, raise our standard / we ain’t your average idol.” At this point, the narrative of Red Moon diverts slightly, but this track manages to reach a point of intensity that the other three had not both lyrically and sonically. With “Inferno” BM and J.SEPH want people to know that there is more to be seen of them and of KARD.

Red Moon reaches its conclusion with “Dumb Litty,” which was previously released as a single in September. With lyrics by J.SEPH and BM as well as composition by BM, “Dumb Litty” has the most assertive beginning and downbeat of Red Moon, giving the album an anthem of a last song.

“Dumb Litty” sees KARD continuing to be themselves in a world full of negative voices as BM declares, “the reason you talk about me isn’t in me / but it’s in you,” and J.SEPH announces, “I am just living my way follow nobody.” The four members assert that they will celebrate now and leave worries for another time with the line “tomorrow’s worries we leave in tomorrow.” They will follow the path they created themselves, proving that “Dumb Litty” is a powerful conclusion to what “Go Baby” began.

KARD’s Red Moon brought the familiar and a new side of the group: cohesive narrative, the catchy hooks and beats associated with the group, and a growing intensity with the progression of the album. Although there are sonic similarities within each song, each track brought an overall sound and story that was distinct from the others. Red Moon sees KARD finding their sound and the experimental direction the group is moving in.

(YouTube, Reference, Independent, LyricsKpop. Images via DSP Media.)