Rookie group GHOST9 have been going nonstop. Less than two years into their career they’re already on their third series of albums. Following their Pre Episode and Now projects, the guys have arrived at the Arcade for a mini album that launches a new concept. X-Ray is the first tease, and it’s a frustrating song.
It’s easy to dismiss tracks that lack any redeeming features, but sometimes the most maddening comebacks are the ones that come close to excellence but sabotage themselves in the process. I hear greatness in X-Ray’s chorus (and pre-chorus), but it’s undercut by K-pop-by-numbers verses that drag the production down. This now familiar blend of rap and vocals needs a makeover. YOUNITE’s recent Everybody proved how fun and vital rap verses can be when given ear-catching flow and personality. But, X-Ray’s verses go nowhere. They’re simply a bunch of “blah blahs” and “yah yahs” without any vision – a mix of halfhearted vocals and angsty posturing.
X-Ray comes to life during its pre-chorus. The song gains focus, introducing dramatic synth textures as the performance finally shapes into a compelling melody. This continues into the standout chorus, which ties a simple refrain to brisk percussion and chugging guitar. At last, the track has a perspective of its own! GHOST9’s producers can’t resist temptation to play with tempo as X-Ray moves toward its finale, but we end on a (predictable) high as a chanted hook concludes this mixed bag of a comeback. The song finishes with more highs than lows, but with an overarching title like “Arcade” I hope the group leans into X-Ray’s stronger moments for their next single.