A.C.E are one of the few K-pop groups I’ve seen perform in-person on multiple occasions. Both concerts were held in small venues, giving a sense of intimacy you don’t always get with K-pop. Rather than world-conquering, unapproachable idols, the guys feel more like comfortable friends. That mirrors their overall appeal. They’re scrappy underdogs with more than their fair share of classics.
This makes Changer all the more bittersweet. It’s not an endpoint for the group, but it certainly feels like a fork in the road. Members Donghun and Wow are set to enlist in the military soon, leaving behind a fraction of the group to continue promotions however their agency sees fit. As such, Changer feels imbued with love and appreciation for the fans, incorporating many of the elements that have made A.C.E’s music so addictive since their 2017 debut. It may not fully live up to peaks like Under Cover or Goblin, but its brash, energetic style makes a mark.
Turning the energy up a notch from June’s Higher, Changer pulses forward on a sturdy EDM backbone. It’s a series of highs and lows, both structurally and melodically. I’m not a huge fan of the chorus. At times, the refrain borders on shrill. But, it’s surrounded by excellent segments. The pre-chorus leverages beautiful melody for a sentimental standout, while the post-chorus chant borrows the clobbering hardstyle drive of debut-era songs like Cactus and Callin. I only wish the producers would have opted for something more daring than those ultra-familiar tropical synths. However, Changer’s whole eclipses its parts, slotting together into a track that’s both celebratory and intense. In this way, it’s a fitting send-off to the first stage of A.C.E’s career.