During the years of 2013 and 2014, VIXX delivered a string of hits that, taken together, represent one of modern k-pop’s strongest imperial phases. This isn’t to say that their post-2014 material is bad (Dynamite and Chained Up would certainly argue to the contrary), but over the past two years their sound has taken a dramatic turn. The bombast and energy began to dial down in favor of music that put a stronger emphasis on ambiance than melody.
This stylistic shift gradually led to last year’s subdued Shangri-La, which new single Scentist (not “Scientist,” as I kept reading it) almost replicates. VIXX are working with different producers this time around, but the same skittering trap-inspired beats and murky synths are omnipresent. Those who read The Bias List often will know that this particular blend of instrumentation does absolutely nothing for me, and puts Scentist (향) at a disadvantage right from the start. Luckily, the song’s slow-burn approach has a few tricks up its sleeve.
At the risk of paraphrasing so many of my recent reviews, Scentist’s verses feel pretty much useless. They flit this way and that without a strong sense of direction, incorporating rap and hushed, languid vocals in equal measure. This leaves plenty of heavy lifting for the song’s pre-chorus and hook. Neither is particularly impactful, but taken together they offer a beguiling atmospheric build and creeping drop that sparks a bit of drama. But like Shangri-La, this is a song best experienced alongside a music video and performance. Taken on its own, it’s missing the sense of cohesive, dynamic construction that used to be a hallmark of VIXX’s music. I selfishly wish they’d return to that sound, simply because it’s so sorely missed in today’s k-pop landscape.
OMG its not called SCIENTIST! WHAAAAAT. I was even like oh ok they have beakers its sciencey. Thanks for that clarification oh my god I feel dumb. But also “scentist”?!
Looks like we have similar views on VIXX. I too think On & On Eternity & Error to be are some of my favourite Kpop releases and they really sit in my musical wheel house well and the rest of their 2013 releases I REALLY liked too. However I actually think this song is a return to form even if it is in their new style. I struggled with their previous releases including Chained Up which seemed to get a lot of fan love.
I think the chosen percussion and synths blend so well together that production wise its brilliant. As always they are great performers and its nice to see the other boys represented in the chorus as it isn’t as massive as previous songs (I know you love a melodic powerful chorus though)
This is probably my favourite song of theirs since Error.
Haha “Scentist” is such a made-up k-pop word!
I’m glad you’re feeling this. Personally, I think it’s a bit better than Shangri-La, but it’s really just not what I want from VIXX. It seems like this kind of sound is closer to what the guys themselves enjoy, so I guess I just have to learn to let the past go.
I think it would be different if other groups were taking up the mantle when it comes to VIXX’s dramatic 2013-2015 sound, but it’s just not happening.
To me, Scentist feels and sounds like so many other 2018 k-pop comebacks. It’s got more nuance and better production than most because… well… it’s VIXX. But I wouldn’t put it anywhere close to “Error”… or even “Chained Up,” to be honest.
I know what you mean, it would be great to have another group delivering Eternity/Error style up tempo electro dance pop.
I really think this is brilliant though, there are SO many different percussion noises used throughout this song, its very dynamic. The droning bass just gives it this slow jammy sexy grind that I think makes it brilliant for me.
I’ll be clear Error is like top 20 songs of all time territory…this isn’t close…but im glad theres a track from VIXX that I’m not complacent about again. I used to love them so much I was sad when their music veered away from my taste. Much like your current situation with GOT7
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