After a debut year highlighted by an addictive deep house sound, AB6IX’s music faced growing pains in 2020. And with the departure of their leader, it felt like the group was at a crossroads. This resulted in a pair of comebacks that were polar opposites of one another, leading me to question exactly what AB6IX wanted their music to stand for. Repackaged track Stay Young (불시착) further complicates things, but it’s a pleasant, uplifting pop song.
Co-written by the group’s own Park Woojin alongside a couple of the Monotree guys, Stay Young doesn’t sound like what I’d expect from a track with his name attached to it. The song is less hip-hop than it is shiny synthpop. And though its various elements are hit and miss, I appreciate the sense of optimism and brushes of pop melody.
Stay Young is highlighted by a brilliant pre-chorus. The orchestral synths are just gorgeous, and underline the exciting melody with a welcome sense of drama. This is Monotree at their best, picking the perfect textures to leave maximum impact. The injection of guitar during the song’s climax is another highlight. In between, we get some ho-hum verses that stall momentum when they could be heightening the track’s inherent theatricality. Meanwhile, Stay Young’s chorus is like a microcosm of the song itself. There are moments of brilliance, but the refrain could do with a greater sense of focus. Its first half feels too offhand, while the second half injects a weightier melody that emphasizes the song’s strong points. As a whole, I think that Stay Young is a frustrating success, like a few rays of sun poking through a layer of clouds.