AB6IX debuted in 2019 and, unfortunately, in that small amount of time since then their leader left the group in 2020. With member changes and still being a fairly new group, you might have expected AB6IX to reinvent themselves. AB6IX’s “Salute” comeback in 2020 showed that they were focusing on the same sound though. AB6IX has returned quickly for another comeback with their repackaged album, Salute: A New Hope.
The lead single of their repackaged album differs greatly from their previous comeback. While “Salute’s” beat relied on a drumline with a base drop, “Stay Young” is totally in the opposite direction as a synth-heavy pop song. The repackaged album consists of three brand new tracks, six previous songs, two remixes, and two instrumentals. Together they bring together an album that is fairly diverse with genres and sounds showing that AB6IX is still experimenting with their signature sound.
The different sound for their latest single is not completely jarring. The track “Heaven” is basically a segue between the original album and the repackaged one. The pop ballad is a nice slow down that focuses on the vocals of the members and their ability to harmonize. The song builds up to a chorus that is an explosion of synth giving it that perfect heavenly vibe.
Much like “Heaven,” all the new tracks, “Apricity,” “Stay Young,” and “Encore” are also more vocally based with the use of synths to help elevate their voices. The songs encompass every sense of the word “new hope” with their uplifting subjects. For instance, the lyrics of “Apricity” is about comparing the thawing of winter to feeling warmed by someone’s love. The word “apricity” itself is about feeling the sun’s warmth in winter making a decent analogy. The members harmonize perfectly together for the chorus in this song keeping with their angelic vibe.
Continuing with the synth sounds, “Encore,” is a nice thank you to their fan base. It is one thing to write a song for your fans, but “Encore” also incorporates their voices. The chorus includes a chant from their fans harmonizing in the background when the vocalist sings, “won’t you give me that encorе?” As a new group, it is good to see AB6IX appreciating their fans and letting them participate in their music.
“Stay Young” is an equally optimistic song that can sound a bit cliché at points. The lyrics speak about living the way you want to live. The voice of the song comments about facing antagonism while trying to stay hopeful. There are other songs on the album that probably would have been better lead single choices, especially with such an overused concept about “staying young.” Regardless, the song does lead up to both a catchy chorus and melody:
(Fly up) Opеn both arms
(Go way up) We are flying away
(Hands up) Follow your heart, follow your hеart
(Yeah yeah yeah yeah) I can make it right
The repackaged album also brings back some of their older songs in new remixes. The remix of “Blind for Love” fits right in with its nu-disco mix. This a dance track that brings in a modern disco vibe and is definitely a genre they should continue exploring. The other remix, “Surreal” is a rock mix that starts off with a hauntingly beautiful piano melody. The song builds up and leads to more guitar and drums bringing up to a climactic chorus. Both are nice remixes despite being polar opposites and adds to the diversity of the album.
“Salute,” the lead single on the original album, focuses on a drumline during the verses but drops the beat to an underwhelming lyric-less chorus. As a title track, it sounds unfinished and does not really show any reinvention of the group as they embark as a 4-member group. While “Salute” is not their best track, “Mirror” brought together some of those same elements into a much better song. It has a drum base as well but does not let the music taper off into a mediocre chorus. The vocalizations in the chorus also bring the song together better than “Salute” did.
“Maybe” and “Bloom” are both fun mid-tempo tracks that also add variety. “Maybe” has a finger-snap beat combined with a piano melody. As energetic as the song sounds, the lyrics are actually about going through a breakup. “Bloom,” on the other hand, is a romantic song that has an addictive pre-chorus where the voice boldly declares “would you be my flower baby?” Both tracks would probably remind you more of groups like Got7 or 2PM which is more in the realm of what they are likely exploring.
“Behind You” is a true ballad with a piano melody. It would be great for them all to tackle an, even more, slower ballad and really show off some more complicated notes. However, “Behind You” does almost get there with its vocal focused song. Even though the song includes more singing, Woojin manages to steal the show. His deep-based rapping adds a soulful touch to the song. The tone sounds mournful and the lyrics point to possibly the death of someone or losing someone in your life:
Like a midsummer night’s dream
Wherever you are
Always shining on me
You waited for me under the light
The last two tracks, “Salute” and “Stay Young” are instrumental tracks so there is not too much to say about them. As the lead singles, they were likely chosen to emphasize the beats of the song. As stand-alone beats, you can really get the sense of how different they are. “Salute” has an authoritative tone and “Stay Young” has a more optimistic tone.
Ultimately, AB6IX is still digging and searching for their signature sound, and it is nice that they feel comfortable enough to feel like they can be exploring that right now. “ Stay Young” is surely a test to see what kind of changes they can experiment with as they continue to grow. Hopefully, they take note of their strengths and can decide what genre would be best for them.