CIX’s debut-era sound wasn’t for me, but they captured my attention with the bright, melodic Cinema. With the release of their first full album, the group continues to move toward a lighter style, even donning the age-old K-pop sailor suits for promo shots. While clichés like that don’t usually bode well, I appreciate the group’s ability to shift concepts and experiment with their sound. New single Wave has a lot of potential, but is undercut by an inert instrumental that weighs everything down.
I admit personal bias here, because there’s nothing “wrong” with Wave’s production. I simply don’t enjoy beats like this. So much of the instrumental is overtaken by huge slabs of synth that crash along a lockstep structure. You’re probably sick of seeing this word on the blog, but it all feels so plodding. I crave a more human touch. For what I assume is supposed to be a dance song, Wave never finds much of a rhythm. It’s just stuck in this lurching, mid-tempo murk that drains all spontaneity from the arrangement. The track needs time to breathe. A livelier, more nuanced beat would have completely transformed it.
This is a shame, because the song itself is quite solid. The verses pass by without landing any punches, but the effusive chorus has potential to soar. CIX imbue the titular hook with a sense of freedom, at odds with its apathetic EDM backbone. I’m not as taken by the “like thunder, thunder” refrain. Though it aims for catharsis, its repetitive nature plays into the track’s worst instincts. Judging from the album’s highlight medley, there are much stronger offerings to be found among the b-sides.