A die-hard fan of Romantic Punch since It’s Yummy, I celebrate each new release with fist pumping. Out of all the rock bands I’ve listened to since falling down the Korean music rabbit hole, Romantic Punch personifies fun.

Led by the charismatic Bae In Hyuk and a band who matches him at every step, Romantic Punch is loud, energetic and full of joy, whether on a recording or live (if you don’t dance in your chair to the live version to “TGIF” with Daybreak’s Lee Won Seok, then you don’t have a heart). Sure, not every release of theirs is noteworthy, like the moody Silent Night EP, but Romantic Punch have grown and sustained a fan base through the years. I just follow along like an addict chasing my next fix.

romanitic punch fight club

One can imagine, then, my starving state. After the fantastic Glam Slam record, 2014 came and went without a release. How could they do this to me?! When “Fight Club” finally arrived, I ate it up. Small package, but hints of transition are hidden inside.

On the title track, Bae In Hyuk is behind the keys once again in a big way. Having left it largely out of the picture for “Glam Slam,” it’s nice to hear the frontman on the keys again, especially on such a bombastic song like “Fight Club.” Opening with a grand piano riff, with an organ flourish in the background, the song highlights how talented a piano player In Hyuk is while going toe to toe with his bandmates on this punchy ditty. The song is clunky, though, with the structure suggesting an earlier ending, but getting an extension to include a rap-esque segment and a chant on the middle-eight. The structure falters because of this, giving “Fight Club” a forced feeling to accommodate single length than an original vision.

On the single’s B-side, “Drive, Misty,” the pace remains the same, but a different side of Romantic Punch presents itself. Giving off a breezy and dreamlike affect, “Drive, Misty” is a fever dream, with In Hyuk’s trademark vocals softening some and the guitars by Konchi and Lazy going lighter than they have of late. The song is still a Romantic Punch song, with Tricky‘s drums never letting up, but the reverb on the vocals and ease the band shows off on “Drive, Misty” suggests that Romantic Punch heading in a direction going forward. As much as I love the highs and lows of this band, the middle range could be further explored, and “Drive, Misty” seems a good starting point. Yes, I’m speculating, but it has been two years since “Glam Slam,” so give me a break!

Romantic Punch is still holding on to the harder edge of “Glam Slam,” especially in the title track, but with the introduction of a softer side in “Drive, Misty.” Fight Club as a single isn’t something to be excited about; Glam Slam and “It’s Yummy” are still the go-to Romantic Punch releases. As a sign of what’s in store from one of Korean rock’s ecstatic bands, though, Fight Club shows Romantic Punch is not afraid to explore new territory.

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Contributed to McRoth’s Residence with a focus on Korean indie and hip-hop music.