With The Closer, VIXX have delivered on their ambitious 2016 trilogy release schedule. When the project first began with April’s excellent Dynamite, I looked forward to a year of varying concepts that pushed VIXX’s already solid sound. But between Fantasy and The Closer, the guys have instead settled into a certain downbeat vibe, assisted by production team Devine Channel.
I’ve mentioned it in other reviews, but more and more I’m coming to the conclusion that Devine Channel’s style just isn’t really for me. The Closer, just as Fantasy before it, has a dark, lurching sound that moves between quiet and explosive without ever building to one true climax. Its spare, beat-driven production is as restrained as VIXX has ever been on a title track. The song has a palpable tension throughout, but I wish its cathartic chorus morphed into something bigger as we neared the track’s finale. Its skittering beat and undercurrent of haunting bass get the job done, but the trick gets somewhat repetitive as the song goes on. Though we get some dramatic high notes two-thirds of the way through, The Closer is ultimately a tease.
Luckily, VIXX is an incredibly strong group, capable of elevating this otherwise nebulous sound. There are enough little vocal and melodic turns throughout to keep the track interesting, and the guys sound on top of their game. Though the production isn’t as bombastic as Fantasy‘s gothic theatre pastiche, The Closer‘s core melody feels like it will be more durable in the long run. They’re a group in transition, and that’s a good thing. But, I’m hoping that they haven’t settled on Devine Channel as the only collaborator to see them through their next era of high concept releases.