“… [P]lanets are islands in the sea of space. Among many other things, the sea has symbolized chaos and the bridge among orderly lands, life and death, time and timelessness, menace and lure, boredom and the sublime.”
CIX’s first installment in the OK series, ‘OK’ Prologue: Be OK, explores feelings of overcoming adversity and orienting towards a brighter future. Using the sea as a broad metaphor, the members exemplify different facets and symbolisms that embody the ocean: danger and struggle as well as boundless opportunity and beauty.
The album is comprised of various sea adjacent tunes that are meant to make the listener feel comforted in a variety of ways: shared suffering, new beginnings, and sweet confessions. In each track the members encourage the listener to “go beyond the wave,” cast off their cares, and move forward in search of eventual peace.
Boasting ten tracks, their most on an album to date, ‘OK’ Prologue: Be OK can be separated into three main parts. The first set of tracks are upbeat and generally hopeful with lively music to match. Three tracks, “BAD DREAM,” “Off My Mind,” and “LOST” are similar to “WAVE, and while the latter half of the album, “ICE” and “In & Out” are chill and chic, “20,” “Confession,” and “Here For You” are breathtakingly nuanced and emotional. The middle song “Genie in a Bottle” lies alone as a sexy, funky wild card.
While references to the ocean run throughout the whole track list, the title track “WAVE” effectively sets up the whole concept and message of hope CIX are conveying.
In the MV, the members are seen amidst a variety of sets: an old boat house, a bright and whimsical beach, a boat out at sea, and space (!?). The MV starts with the members in what looks to be a boat house or workspace looking at maps and playing with model ships, dreaming of sailing away before being magically whisked away to a fantasy beach scene. Soon, sailing becomes a reality and the members are seen aboard a small ship in a storm, braving the elements and discovering a storybook-like eutopia with planets, starts, and space laid out within arm’s reach. As the song ends, the members are seen looking out onto a misty ocean mystery, returning to reality.
While the story itself is evocative, it outlines a deeper message: tension and release as well as struggle and triumph. The members are not only thrust into what they dreamed of from the beginning, but face hardship in spite of it. After remaining steadfast through the literal and figurative storm, they are rewarded with wonder and beauty the likes of which are likely better than they had dreamed of from the beginning.
With the world in turmoil amidst COVID, “WAVE” feels like a quirky breath of fresh air. The visuals in the MV are bright and cheerful, and the song is alluring as well. The musical texture is straightforward with a halftime backbeat in the drum set, soaring drop in the chorus and mostly midi samples and recorded vocals as opposed to acoustic instrument tracks. While different in its intention and production, the drop in the “WAVE” is a bit reminiscent of the chorus of Astro’s “Crazy Sexy Cool” as well.
Similar to “WAVE” are “BAD DREAM,” “LOST,” and “Off My Mind.” They exude hopeful confidence and emphasize this with funky, bass forward samples. “Off My Mind” specifically has engaging vocals chops that add to the vocal layering and texture of the track. These three songs encourage listeners to let go of the past and move forward, with different antagonists and tribulations. While “BAD DREAM” and “Off My Mind” speak to the listener with intent, “LOST” is just what it sounds like. The members are gazing out at the vast expanse of a desolate, metaphorical ocean and craving direction themselves. One could imagine these tracks to be the members lost in the midst of a storm but looking ahead to calmer waters and the guiding Northern star at night.
With the waters calming and horizon visible, the members then move to chill, chic tracks with “ICE,” “20,” and “In & Out.” Cruising through the seemingly endless expanse of ocean, CIX entice listeners to relax and enjoy the sights with them. Saying the are only afraid of “ice,” the term holds dual meanings: physical ice that can suddenly stop sea life and boats in their tracks as well as the icing over of someone’s heart that can halt romance before it can flourish. With sweet, falsetto vocals and more piano and guitar in the forefront of the music, “ICE” pulls the listener in while the sexier, sleeker “In & Out” describes breathing in and out, throwing oneself into the world (and their romance) with fervor. The latter track is more finger snap, percussion, and vocal heavy rather than piano, but holds the same evocative pull that “ICE” does.
“20” concludes the set by reflecting on being twenty years old. Now that all the members of CIX are comfortably in their 20s, it feels fitting for the last song of this set to be light and modern like the newly minted adults. Fun and exciting with a little bit of melancholy, the texture of “20” is thick with a lot of layers of sound happening simultaneously during the choruses. This is contrasted by more percussion and vocal centric verses and bridges that feel contemplative opposite its exciting counterpart in the chorus.
A complete departure from the previous tracks, “Confession,” and “Here For You” are breathtaking ballads on the album. Simply scored with piano, vocals, acoustic guitar, and some simple body percussion, the tracks showcase the members’ vocal ability and nuanced harmonies. “Confession” is especially moving with the melodic climax in the chorus and abundant layers of harmony. “Here For You” on the other hand is pleasantly light and easygoing. The song has entirely English lyrics, rare for the group, and is likely an attempt to connect with international fans. There is something especially healing and meaningful about this being the last song on the whole track list, really leaning into the emotional “Be OK” message of the whole album.
All on its lonesome is the polarizing and funky “Genie in a Bottle.” Here CIX talk about being able to do whatever they want and life being “like an amusement park” with them around. In a way, this song is chaos and temptation. With magic at their fingertips, the members describe themselves as “already sinner[s]” and “like a genie out of a bottle.” Electric bass and a variety of percussion are the siren song alongside spitfire raps and catchy vocal melodies. While it sticks out from the rest of the songs on the album, it rounds out the different ways that the members use the sea for a multiplicity of meanings.
Using the ocean as a vehicle, CIX manage to encourage, entice, and comfort listeners in equal spades with their album ‘OK’ Prologue: Be OK. With this first installment of the series being vastly diverse musically and evocative conceptually, it will be interesting to see where the ‘OK’ series leads listeners. For now, one can be healed and consoled by Be OK.
(A Dictionary of Literary Symbols by Michael Ferber, YouTube , Images via C9 Entertainment)