Review

Song Review: A.C.E – Higher

A.C.E - HigherA.C.E may not come back very often, but they’ve managed to place a song in my year-end top ten for two years running. ‘Quality over quantity’ is not a bad approach, and they’ve been wise to stick with the same circle of producers to ensure a cohesive discography. Higher is their latest release with composer Mad Fresh, and takes them in a more restrained direction compared to the bombastic Under Cover and Goblin (Favorite Boys).

Those two tracks give A.C.E plenty to live up to, and Higher feels disappointing in comparison. To be fair, the song targets different aural territory, so It’s hard to directly compare. Higher opens with a verse that could have easily been ripped from one of the group’s ballads if given a different arrangement. It’s got a satisfying surge, slowly building interest. This climaxes in a breathless build. The instrumental grows much more dramatic, delivering brassy stabs of synth.

My biggest issue with Higher is its chorus. I like what it’s trying to do, but I don’t think the melody or production delivers on its promise. The refrain lacks punch, repeating a series of simple hooks that feel too predictable. The arrangement comes across as overly cluttered. Rather than streamline the instrumental into a hard-hitting groove, Higher drenches itself with layers upon layers of percussion and synth. While this makes the chorus feel grand (and loud!), the individual elements get lost in the mix. To my ears, it just sounds messy and unfocused. As a whole, Higher is still super solid. But, it feels like a step back when compared to the group’s more definitive material.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

16 thoughts on “Song Review: A.C.E – Higher

  1. I’d like to disagree with you on this one. I’m not a big fan of the verses, but the pre-chorus, chorus and post-chorus totally sold me on this one. Sure, it isn’t as good as Undercover or my fav 2020 track fav boys (I mean the fact that it isn’t a rock inspired track is enough to solidify that) but is quite grand and awesome. 8.75 for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Monotree(!) produced it. I definitely enjoyed it though the chorus felt predictable and borrowed from songs of this style though grand. But those stabs of synths finally won me over. 8.75 for me.

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  3. To preface: I would probably consider A.C.E my current fave boy group, if not at least top 3 (with Seventeen and OnlyOneOf). But I just don’t know what to think of this yet. It’s not immediate love (or hate as I did with Savage and Down).

    I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m not completely sold on Higher yet. I think I would have liked more of a grand sound in the chorus. I think it relies too much on a instrumental that isn’t strong enough but somehow yet has a lot going in in it. Less components but a more fleshed out sound would have been better. Personally I would have liked them to ramp up that twinkly synth sound I hear in the undercurrent a hell of a lot more. It felt like a lot of build up for them to only go a little more above what they were already doing in the verses, if you gonna go big, make it BIG.
    The glock gun sound is also so unnecessary and out of place.
    Vocally it is nice but there’s not much variation since there’s no rap this time and honestly as much as I hate “out of place” rap, the back and forths between Byeongkwan and Sehyoon are some of my favourite moments in an A.C.E song. One of my favourite things about Goblin is the low rap tone from Sehyoon in the second verse and then going straight into Jun’s contrasting high voice. But the fact that they can turn to two rappers into two singers just like that and for them to hold their own against the others shows the talent the group has.

    One thing that has always captured my attention about A.C.E is their ability to deliver bombast and keep the energy going from start to finish but without resorting to classic boy group tropes like trap. Songs like Undercover didn’t slow down, it just got more intense and powerful as the song went on. But Higher just kind of falls predictable and doesn’t capitalise on the moment after the second chorus like A.C.E usually do.

    I can appreciate them wanting to try something new but it kinda loses the flavour I like at the same time.

    Lmao sorry about the long text wall I just really like A.C.E.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I know everyone loves to say their fav group is all main dancers/vocals/rappers, but in the case of A.C.E, KBK and Wow absolutely hold their own vocally – not main vocal level, but either of them could be the second or third best vocalist in a number of other 3.5-4th gen groups. Of course, I’d rather they also rapped, like in Undercover, but we don’t always get what we want. I’m mixed on this one too, but I’m sure it’ll grow on me.

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  4. Who are these people and what have they done with my ACE? (throws earbuds across the room)

    Ok, ok, breeeeathe, to be fair the song sounds like an above average contemporary boy band song, dark theme in costume only. Their voices didn’t need the vocal process button; I don’t know why people always hit that button on the console. But it doesn’t hit any of the lesser desired bad buttons, so that is a plus.

    It doesn’t do anything new, but what it does it does well. But it is not this year’s “Undercover” or “Favorite Boys”. *sigh*

    Don’t they already have a song named “Higher”, she asks, answering her own question? Darling daughter sometimes gets in an ACE mood when she gets stuck in the A’s on the Alphabetical Artist list, so I get to hear their back catalog often enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This isn’t as intensely in-your-face as their best material but this is a rock-solid song. That chorus reminds me a bit of ONF’s New World; New World is the better song because of how it really goes for broke but there are far worse songs to take from. It’s a bit messy, yeah, but it really comes together for me.

    At the end of the day, it’s A.C.E. I wasn’t not gonna like this (let’s just never speak of Savage again alright).

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  6. You’re unlikely to find an A.C.E song that I actively dislike. This doesn’t have the hard-core drive and energy of previous songs. Nope. The verses have a delicate yearning to them, and then the chorus comes crashing in like a wave. I think it’s gorgeous. I love the siren theme of allure and danger. There’s a lovely part in the choreo where they move their hands along the floor as if they were running them through water. As a bonus, in the live stage Jun barely manages to keep his shirt on.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Going by their Show Champion performance, “Jun barely manages to keep his shirt on” is part of their concept this CB.

      Not that I’m complaining!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Now here’s somebody who’s focused on what really matters… (I’m 100% serious and going to look up fancams now. I don’t care for this song lol)

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  7. Yeah, I’m underwhelmed. That’s okay. I’ve been underwhelmed by A.C.E songs before and so far have always come around. I’m enjoying the performances so far – there are some really lovely moments in the choreo and I’m really looking forward to a dance practice or full cam. It’ll be a bummer if this is their last CB pre-enlistments but I suppose that was going to be the case whether I loved this EP or not.

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