Repackaged albums are still common in K-pop, but they usually arrive a month or two after the original release. We’re six months away from Kang Daniel’s The Story and he’s surprised us with an extra chapter. The Story: Retold adds a handful of songs, including new single Nirvana. I can’t say I enjoyed any of the tracks from the original album, so it’s nice to have something new to sink my teeth into. To my ears, Nirvana is the strongest single Kang Daniel’s released in years.

Daniel shines best on upbeat tracks that harness his skills as a dancer. Nirvana isn’t quite a club banger, but it has a sense of build and release that makes for a satisfying energy. What begins as a slow-burn verse soon grows into a compelling centerpiece. Nirvana hinges on its big beat drop, and this technique is elevated thanks to a catchy vocal melody that takes equal precedence. There’s no dead space within this hook. It’s not the strongest chorus I’ve ever heard, but I appreciate its focus and the way it utilizes Kang Daniel’s airy vocal to maximum effect.

Rapper pH-1 joins the party to offer a brief verse, bringing extra texture to the track. If anything, I wish Nirvana committed more to its club-ready beats. It has one foot on the dancefloor while its head is often in the clouds. It’s at its best when it’s loud and proud with its beat-forward approach. Grungy dance music offers a great, untapped platform for Kang Daniel’s strengths. With any luck, this will be the first step toward exploring that genre further.

Hooks 8
Production 9
Longevity 9
Bias 8

Grade: B


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Publisher: Nick