2019 is having an impressive roll of debuts so far, and the latest addition comes in the name of Ab6ix. Hip hop company Brand New Music has been gathering expectations for the boy group ever since Daehwi, Woojin, Donghyun, and Youngmin participated on Produce 101 Season 2 under the name “BrandNew Boys.” Daehwi and Woojin successfully made it to the finals and promoted as part of Wanna One for the past two years, while Youngmin and Donghyun formed the duo MXM and released a prolific number of singles after being eliminated from the show.

As Wanna One’s contract ended in the beginning of this year, the Brand New Music quartet resumed activities and geared up for their long awaited debut. On March 28, social media accounts were opened for Ab6ix, alongside a teaser video that explained the meaning of its name: “Absolute Six” or “Above BrandNew Six,” with six representing five members plus one fandom. The mysterious member added to the quartet was later revealed to be Jeon Woong, a former trainee at JYP Entertainment and YG Entertainment, also known for his appearance on Mnet’s Stray Kids survival show.

Almost two months after the first teasers, the first single, “Breathe,” is finally out. Composed by member Daehwi, producer Nomad, and Brand New Music CEO Rhymer, the song revives a groovy deep house sound, powered by a stirring pre-chorus and powerful rap verses. Daehwi, Youngmin, and Woojin also participated in writing the lyrics, whose main message is about breaking free from the oppression of society. On an interesting note, the lyrics are also said to point out the aggravating fine dust pollution in South Korea:

I wanna breathe
Just set me free
Rhythm and beat to make me breathe
It’s not too late now
Just jump in and take
My hands and leave

Following this premise, the MV finds the members in aesthetic scenarios filled with smoke. Playing with the idea of being constricted and stuck, shadows and other props imprison the members, including Jeon Woong in a car, Daehwi amidst a pile of chairs, and Youngmin inside a red transparent cube. The smoke permeates almost all of their individual scenes, and often facilitates the transitions between clear and cloudy shots.

As the song progresses, the group finds their longed for space to breathe by escaping those surroundings. Donghyun runs, Jeon Woong climbs up a guarding rail, Woojin goes up a building, and finally all the members reunite under a refreshing rain for the final chorus. Rain can be taken as a metaphor for cleansing and purification, which pairs well with both messages conveyed by the lyrics: a new beginning away from the pressures of society and clean air free from the fine dust.

It is also interesting to notice that Ab6ix crosses a tunnel before the final choreography sequence. Much like rain, tunnels also represent transformation. They can be seen as a passage from one side to another, from light to dark, from the unknown to reality. This artifice is commonly used in debuts to represent the transformation from trainees to idols, like in Itzy’s “Dalla Dalla,” for example, and it is arguably one of the possible interpretations for this MV as well.

The choreography is yet another high point of “Breathe,” with beautiful sequential movements, formations, and hand gestures. The clean box setting of the opening scene and the chic blue outfits of the group create an elegant, mature vibe that is usually reserved to more experienced acts wanting to showcase their growth. This is a smart choice as it sets Ab6ix apart from their peers, especially when many rookies use the rebellious nature of youth as an essential part of their identity.

While the group’s pre-debut song, “Hollywood,” showcases a typical badass vibe, “Breathe” relies on a more sophisticated approach. This unique approach, therefore, makes Ab6ix’ entrance into the industry much more solid. While not the most surprising track, it is certainly captivating, and its refined quality demonstrates potential for a niche worth exploring. Among talented members, eye-catching visuals, and a beat that keeps on flowing, the final result is a breath of fresh air.

(Naver, Youtube. Lyrics via Color Coded Lyrics and Naver Papago. Images via Brand New Music)