Less that two years since the debut of CIX, C9 Entertainment have thrust another boy group onto the K-pop scene. I’m a bit surprised to see them emerge so early, but I guess the current idol landscape moves faster than ever. EPEX have already stirred up some controversy due to their album concept, which is themed around mental illness. It does seem like a rather crass approach, but I’m willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt at least once.
Unfortunately, EPEX’s music hasn’t yet endeared me to the group. I’m starting to wonder if C9’s A&R team is diametrically opposed to my own music taste, since I haven’t cared for any of CIX’s songs much either (apart from this year’s wonderful Cinema). Judging from this track, EPEX seem to be vying for the role of “hip-hop truthtellers.” FNC’s P1Harmony have opted for a similar vibe, pulling it off with more flair – at least so far.
Lock Down is K-pop’s latest pandemic-themed track. And, you know… fair enough! Artists and songwriters will obviously take influence from events happening around them. This may not be subject matter I’m interested in exploring at the moment, but I can’t begrudge them for being topical. Unfortunately, the actual song is quite underwhelming. The rap verses show potential, but are undercut by a shouty chorus that sacrifices all momentum from the pre-chorus. It’s quite an unpleasant hook, repetitive and monotone. This kind of shout-along chorus can work, but requires a galvanizing instrumental and dynamic delivery. EPEX don’t manage either, leaving a hole right in the heart of the song.