An Album a Day is my exploration into the Korean music scene. This podcast will cover mainstream, indie and some underground artists within the scene and provide both factual and opinionated commentary. The biggest benefit to sharing my thoughts this way is that it will hopefully expose you to more great music and exploration of your own.
The show took a long and unanticipated hiatus as we were drawing Season 4 to its close. I cannot roll into Season 5 -- which now won’t have half as long of a break -- with work still pending. It’s unprofessional. It’s annoying. It’s a one-woman show that, thanks to Patreon Patrons, can now afford a little extra help! So we’re back on it with AB6IX. You’ve waited long enough. So long, in fact, that the group had time to drop another album while I was away! Let’s dive into albums “Vivid” and “Salute,” right after the drop.
You’re tuned into An Album a Day. Show start.
Hey y’all, if you’ve been wondering why shows are posting later than their usual 8:00 a.m. Central Time, worry not. We are still testing different marketing times and also subjected to some late publishing times due to the holiday season. Big shows are prioritized for distribution and we’ve not hit that “big show” status, so we do what we can. These A/B moments help with organizing social media marketing and how A3Day Sister show (yes, I never came up with a better name) will be promoted in 2021.
Back office business aside, I disrupted the order of AB6IX’s discography by skipping their summer 2020 EP, “Vivid” unintentionally. The six-track, 20-minute album was originally scheduled for June 8th as its release date but was moved to June 29th after the departure of Youngmin. The later date provided enough time for the group to re-record the songs without him and introduce audiences to the current lineup’s colors. And I must admit, the hues of “Vivid” are different from the previous albums in a positive way.
The tracks connect perfectly. There’s a sonic sensibility to it from start to finish -- there’s no jarring move from house music to techno or forced hip-hop, for example. The tempo, energy, and key choices are well organized. The title track is enjoyable and the lead single, “The Answer,” has sprinkles of senior boy band Block B all over it, as it was heavily created by Block B’s leader and standout solo artist Zico. My only gripe is with “Surreal,” which seems to be missing real percussion to accent the bassline. In order to create a sense of ambiance or resonance, they chose not to rest heavily on the percussion. A snare cadence or kick drum could’ve saved it for me.
K-pop fans on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being essential listening and 1 not worth mentioning, the A3Day rating for “Vivid” is a 5. The group truly shined on this album and made it into my regular rotation. Given the success of this first top-ranked album from them on the podcast, I was eager to sink my teeth into “Salute,” their third EP.
On November 2, 2020 AB6IX released “Salute” and it’s… different. This isn’t to say that the album is bad, but it is a hard left from “Vivid.” The English language is more integrated in the songs, the musicality jumps from one genre to the next, and I’m chalking it up to the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic made their creative team throw darts and see what would stick. “Salute” is just under 22 minutes in length with the same amount of tracks as “Vivid” and the true standout is a track called, “Heaven.”
“Heaven” proves that AB6IX has the capacity to be a reputable R&B, ballad-adjacent, group of men. The EP “Salute” reflects a direction that seems to think that the group doesn’t have a unique sound yet, but “Heaven” is it. Idol groups are focused on making popular music, but there’s a lane of longevity that is already starting to show within their albums that diverts from pop. We’ll talk more about this during their Final Thoughts episode.
For now, K-pop fans on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being essential listening and 1 not worth mentioning, the A3Day rating for “Salute” is a 5. There were risks taken on this album that didn’t fail the group nor did it compartmentalize them. And given that these projects were released in 2020, AB6IX gets a little extra love from me for putting the experimentation. This isn’t extra points coming from a place of pity. This year sucked and they endured it well. The #A3Day Highlights Playlist on Spotify features tracks from today’s albums and past featured artists, so please enjoy their music. Until the next episode, bye y’all.
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