“Nostos” and “Algos” are the Greek root words for Nostalgia. Befittingly it is possible to find these two words tethered to the teaser images of Victon‘s 5th mini-album Nostalgia, a comeback that has been over 18 months in the making. Therefore, the word nostalgia must carry a great meaning to a group that has changed so very much during the last year and a half.

For one thing, Victon’s popularity has noticeably grown. This has largely to do with both Byungchan and Seungwoo participating in the show Produce X 101. Victon’s leader Seungwoo would end up being one of the winning contestants of this show. Due to this fact, Victon’s Nostalgia is lead by Seungsik as a sextet. The remaining members have stated that they have been honing their skills as musicians over the last year while preparing for their comeback.

This preparation shows, as Nostalgia shines as the groups clearest artistic statement. The album breaks away from their bubbly and anthemic roots for a sound more their own, a sound first shown with their preceding single, “Time of Sorrow.” Their mini-albums release also coincides with their comeback single “Nostalgic Night.”

There seems to be a thematic string tied between the two singles, since things do go missing in the “Nostalgic Night” MV. Members disappear in and out of frame, sometimes there, sometimes not. Perhaps this choice of imagery could be interpreted as a nod to the missing Seungwoo, or simply a visual story-line cue that streamlines the MV towards its pivotal moment, a car crash. The MV could be seen as split in two of the happier moments before the crash and the moments after.

MVs in general thrive off of ambiguity and “Nostalgic Night” is no different. The reoccurring symbolism between this MV and “Time of Sorrow” appears in the shape of a white lily seen at the end of “Time of Sorrow” and in the middle of “Nostalgic Night,” plastered to one of the members wrist. There is also a white pill that causes disappearances, its meaning woven into the fabric of the MV’s ambiguity.

Sonically, “Nostalgic Night” strums along the same mood that envelops the rest of Nostalgic. Atmosphere and meaning are favored over the cheap thrills of the more bombastic sounds that Victon have been known to use. Looking at the mini-album as a whole, there are many other singles that would have admittedly served as bigger springboards of sound.

“New World”‘s glitching beat weaves the mood of the record with a catchy and stunningly delivered chorus section. On the other hand, “Here I Am” whispers its heartfelt message to the heights of the overall sonic landscape created by Viction. In the end, what makes “Nostalgic Night” stand out is its embodiment of nostalgia left hanging across its lyrical delivery. This ambiguity made it the perfect place to pick up where “Time of Sorrow” left off.

Why is it full of your warmth in this space without you?
Why isn’t there a moment without you in my memories?
Yeah If only I could stop time
Would we be able to stay in that time?…

“Nostalgic Night” has quickly become Victon’s biggest single to date. It is their first single to chart on Melon, Soribada, and Genie. Internationally, Victon have also made their Billboard chart debut on the Social 50 with “Nostalgic Night.” This is a signal flare of their increased popularity and growth as a group.

Even in the wake of Seungwoo’s temporary departure, the remaining six members of Victon have been able to weave their vocals into larger parts of the record. Where Seungwoo would usually dominate, Hanse and Byungchan have now been able to create a greater presence in each track. This has allowed for the record to have a mood driven texture, where each vocal has had the time to paint its sound successfully into the fabric of the record.

Impressively now, every single track on this record is roped together by the quieted mood established in “Intro (Nostalgia)” and the theme portrayed by “Nostalgic Night.” This combination of melodies is then a mini-album thoroughly constructed. It comes as no surprise that Hanse and Seungsik are constantly listed as writers on “Nostalgia,” considering how the mini-album’s themes run deep into its lyrical delivery.

Each track speaks of foggy dreams, distant thoughts, and of course love found, sometimes lost. These little themes are spun together into a synopsis of what nostalgia admittedly feels like — a longing for something no longer there. The duality of the emotional responses one can have to nostalgia are what separates each track from blending into one another. It is a delicate balancing act of keeping the mini-album in one world of sound without letting the tracks seem too repetitive.

I think my hands can reach it,
Right at the end of my waiting
The mirage is seen as I step closer to it,
The view that had unfolded right above the horizon

Though it must be said, the record’s closing act “Hands Up” is a terrible end. It can be quite poetic to end a telling of nostalgia on a happy note. However, when that note is so far removed from the rest of the album, and is drenched in unfamiliar EDM components, it can feel a bit misguided and almost a step backwards into their old sound. The EDM components are also in stark contrast to the rest of this records sound, discrediting the great work the rest of the album has presented.

Despite the final track, Nostalgia stands as exactly the comeback that Victon needs to make in the wake of their rising popularity. With Byungchan becoming the MC of “Ban Ban Show” and Subin landing an acting role in “I Have A Secret,” things are only looking up for Victon with their “1st Asia tour: (Voice to ALICE)” starting in Tokyo on November 29th. It is without a doubt that Victon will be riding on a ton of momentum going into 2020.

(YouTube, Melon, Bugs, Billboard, Genie, Twitter, Soribada. Images via Play M Entertainment)