Despite debuting less than two years ago, AB6IX have had a turbulent run in the spotlight. Just last year, the pandemic forced the cancellation of the European and US legs of their 6IXSENSE tour, while former leader Youngmin left the band in June following a DUI charge. Still, the boyband forged ahead as a quartet – consisting of remaining members Woong, Donghyun, Woojin and Daehwi – pulling off a successful, albeit delayed, rollout of their second and third EPs ‘Vivid’ and ‘Salute’.
Unlike where the band left off on ‘Salute’, ballads are in short supply in AB6IX’s latest release. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the five tracks on ‘Mo’ Complete: Have A Dream’ play like an upbeat love letter to clubs and concerts sorely missed, while offering an escape for fans who are understandably dismayed by cancelled shows and performances.
AB6IX exude swagger out the gate with opening track ‘Headline’, incorporating a bassline dripping with funk into verses that detail the captivating charm of a lover. “Each of your splendid gestures become the centre of the world,” croons Woong, the group’s main vocalist. The EP isn’t prefaced by some grand, self-indulgent overture; AB6IX expect you to already know who they are.
The track lets up a floor-filling pre-chorus with big room house beats before funk returns front-and-centre, this time accompanied by industrial synths. The boyband showcase the strength of their vocals in the final chorus before soaring with commendable flourishes in the final moments of the track, setting an energetic tone for the rest of the EP.
On title track ‘Close’, AB6IX take a breather for just a couple of bars – accompanied by a music box motif – before the kicks and snares return. On the EP’s second track, the group are determined to maintain the EP’s dance focus.Driving the chorus is a bouncing, rubbery bassline in the style of ‘Bloom’ from the group’s 2020 release ‘Salute’, miles away from the deceptively clean notes of the intro. Similarly, rapper Woojin offers rather sentimental bars juxtaposed with gruff delivery, commanding an entire verse at the height of the track: “Wherever I go, I’ll be reached to you / Make pinky promises with you every night in my dream.”
The centrefold of the EP marks a drastically different tone, with Daehwi’s saccharine vocals fronting the summer-tinged ‘Lululala’. Unlike the tropical house hits of the mid-2010s, however, AB6IX fill every corner of the unabashedly pop track, barely relying on production to fulfil drops and hooks. Despite similar production and structure, the group flounders slightly on ‘Merry-Go-Round’. The boyband engulf the relatively flat melodic line with enthusiastic synths, leaving a cloying track that even Woojin’s two rap verses cannot salvage.
Thankfully, the album closes with a welcome downtempo offering. ‘A Long Winter’ offers a R&B-influenced respite from the earlier songs, while packing a punch with a story of heartbreak. “After the cold winter, will spring come for us too? / I thought that was what I wanted to believe / There is no main character in the story, yeah,” sings Donghyun, drawing a poignant parallel to the individualism explored in the album’s opener.
While not a panacea to the pandemic or an avant-garde take on the pop landscape, ‘Mo’ Complete’ offers a decent and spirited compilation of tried and true dance pop sounds. Sure, the group have had edgier, more experimental production on previous cuts like ‘Mirror’, ‘Surreal’ or ‘Bloom’, and also took greater leaps vocally on ‘Vivid’, but the safety and surety of ‘Mo’ Complete’ does not take away from what fun it brings.
- Release date: April 26
- Record label: Brand New Music