With new Korean enlistment laws going into effect, VIXX are approaching that precarious moment when some of its members will have to take an extended leave from the group. Whether the guys enlist one at a time or all together, Reincarnation will likely be their final 6-member Japanese comeback for awhile. It’s no surprise that the song embraces the styles and tone of their recent Korean work, but its fitful approach crystallizes much of the criticism I’ve had toward their post-2016 output.
Reincarnation’s first thirty seconds are exhilarating, with a dynamic percussive loop driving the song forward on its inventive rhythm that seems to pull equally from drum and bass and swing music. This introduces an off-kilter rap verse and brief build before the track collapses into one of my least favorite tropes of modern pop. The instrumental transitions to a languid blend of synths that robs Reincarnation of any energy it may have been building.
The chorus sees a return to percussion, but in a more tentative (and less engaging) manner. There’s not much of a melody to be found here, leaving Reincarnation feeling oddly hookless. Things improve as the song grows, with moments of inspired production lifting the instrumental out of its despondency. But compare this to earlier hits like Hyde or Chained Up and the difference couldn’t be more stark. It’s possible to tether a dynamite song to a darker tone, but Reincarnation is held back by its inconsistency.