A year after their previous release The New Kids, iKon finally makes a return with their 3rd mini-album I Decide. This mini-album marks the group’s first release following the departure of leader B.I in June 2019, but his presence is still heavily felt given his involvement in the creation of most tracks in the album. While the group has been away for a long time and have experienced many changes, this enjoyable album displays their confidence as performers and musicians.

The album starts strong with “Ah Yeah”, an anthem-like opening with a marching beat that truly sets it apart from the rest of the tracks. Bobby‘s sick flows are particularly impressive here, kicking off the song (and the whole album) in a refreshing manner. The call & response structure of the chorus engages listeners and helps to maintain its energy level. This song reflects the group’s excitement to face the world, to explore uncharted galaxies, and to burst back onto the K-pop scene.

iKon start bringing out their romantic sides with “All The World”, another rhythm-centric track. While the mix of raps and melodies is well done, the song, unfortunately, feels more repetitive because of its structure and melody line. On the bright side, it is perfectly aligned with its lyrics, which speak of how every day and the whole world is filled with the protagonist’s lover, to the point that the love feels like an addiction. The slight twist in the last chorus where the group sings in unison is fantastic, giving this song a much-needed burst of energy as it crosses the finish line.

The instantly addictive riff that “Dive” starts with becomes a constant for the rest of the track, successfully characterising it. This surprisingly high-registered song is sleek and more restrained than expected. It may speak of an overwhelming passion driven by love, but the song itself (choreography aside) is more of a feel-good listen than an intense dance track. That is perhaps where iKon’s charm lies, subverting expectations while creating music with a synergy that is uniquely theirs. The minimalist track is cleverly layered, such that small synth riff details or key instrumental build-ups do not go unnoticed. The spotlight is slowly being thrust back onto the vocal abilities of the members, and this trend continues for the final two tracks of the album.

This album is full of surprises, and that “Holding On” is the stand-out gem amidst the other more intense tracks is truly a surprise. With its snazzy electronic piano instrumentation and the laid-back style in which this song is performed, the track coasts along comfortably until you realise that its catchy tune is firmly stuck in your head. The best part? You’re glad that such a pleasant melody is there. For such a simple song, the cohesive incorporation of diverse singing styles and vocalisations is impressive. Despite the members having such distinct singing voices, they complement each other perfectly (such as Jinhwan‘s smooth ad-libs with Bobby’s rougher, scratchier voice), elevating this song beyond its seemingly two-dimension level.

iKon wander into ballad territory with their last track, “Flower”. This song is significant for two reasons — Donghyuk makes his debut as a composer with this piece, and it is also the only track on the album that B.I did not have a hand in creating. The song is fittingly emotional, and its instrumentation is on point, blending well with the voices of the members to create emotional climaxes and dynamics.

I hope the departing path brings no pain
I hope you live forgetting everything
I hope you won’t shed tears even in your dreams

By using the metaphor of flowers floating away with the wind, this ballad speaks of departure and loss. The members belt a lot more in this piece than in any other track of the album, but it works to properly convey the complex, delicate story behind this song. Donghyuk shows a lot of promise as a composer and I am definitely excited for the further artistry of this group.

I Decide had a few tracks which shared a theme — overwhelming energy, drive and passion. Despite weathering many storms since their debut, this is the group telling the world that they are resilient and that they still have so much more to show. This mini-album is a clear testament of that.

(Images via YG Entertainment. Youtube)