Oh, my. What to do with VICTON. These guys constantly either hit or miss, and there’s never an in-between. It’s hard to watch because knowing that VICTON are capable of greatness, I always look forward to their releases, but they can’t manage to keep up any form of consistency. New mini-album “From. VICTON” is astonishingly split in terms of overall song quality. It starts at rock-bottom with the boring, disorganized title track “Remember Me” and progresses song by song to end on a skyscraper high, the mid-tempo ballad “Timeline,” literally one of the best songs of the month. Along the way there are some strange hiccups, and all of it makes me wonder how much effort VICTON’s agency, Plan A, is really putting into making sure that the group has decent material to perform.
“Remember Me” is a tropical-touched pop song whose structure never comes together. There are highlights—most notably rapper Hanse’s verse in the middle, but also the decent melodic and rhythmic variation in the distinct sections of the song—but the production doesn’t support any of these elements, and anything intriguing or compelling about the track is lost before it can pick up any momentum. “Remember Me” was composed by Good Life, a team made up of Yong Junhyung and Kim Tae Joo of HIGHLIGHT. Good Life has been credited on many other idols’ releases, and I’m scratching my head here because it’s unclear to me how the final product came out so vague. The composition isn’t the issue—as I’ve mentioned, it’s nothing inspiring, but nor is it bad. And while the tropical house sounds are, at this point in the trend, a complete turn-off if they’re not done spectacularly, the tired moombahton synths and the cliché “oh-eh-oh”s weren’t even my real problem with “Remember Me.” This title track’s ultimate downfall is the lack of cohesiveness. The bridges are so distinct from the verses and choruses that the song is constantly breaking its own dynamic flow. This shortcoming cancels any impetus the song might have otherwise accumulated. You would think that this issue might be smoothed over a bit in the extra track on the end of “From. Victon,” the acoustic version of “Remember Me,” but it turns out it’s not much better than the original, incorporating decidedly un-acoustic sounds into the chorus that are completely unnecessary and distracting.
The rest of the album was a wholly unexpected climb up a steep incline. Second track “Because of You” is the same song as “Remember Me” but without the structure issues—better, but still boring. But “Have a Good Night (Stage Version)” though—oh boy. I was thrilled to hear the fascinating first verse of “Have a Good Night,” but all my excitement collapsed when I heard the chorus. The production in the hook is alarmingly amateur, making me realize that this “stage version,” as it is labeled, couldn’t possibly accurately represent the original. It turns out that VICTON dropped this song unofficially as a demo in August, and the demo is twice as good as the stage version they’ve released on “From. VICTON.” Of course, being a demo, it’s a little fuzzy-sounding, but it’s totally worth it because the excellent rhythm and melody in the chorus is not obscured by the flattening EDM mess of the “stage version.” The song’s composition has a rainy-night atmosphere that is wonderfully constructed, and it’s really disappointing that the album version squashes this.
After “Have a Good Night (Stage Version),” the album hits a level of quality that shocked me upon first listen. “Stay with Me” is subtle, with a fresh, slightly twangy acoustic guitar and invigoratingly clear vocals. It’s the kind of track that gently grooves along without ever calling attention itself, but it’s impossible not to notice how good it is.
And then, there’s “Timeline.” The final track on the album (aside from the acoustic version of “Remember Me”) is an unexpected stroke of genius. The production unfortunately has the slightest flattening effect in parts of the chorus, similar to what happened to “Have a Good Night” but on a much smaller scale. Though it would have been wonderful to hear more sonic depth there, the flaw’s not fatal. “Timeline” is a pop-ballad on the level of pop-ballad rookie kings ASTRO, the kind of song whose pop sweetness you can lose yourself in. The composition, especially where it meets phrasing, is lovely at every turn, achieving a striking amount of rhythmic catchiness that few ballads ever reach. In the latter half of the chorus especially, the rapidly-moving falsetto part has a way of captivating the ears that actually made me gasp out loud the first time I heard it. No kidding. Another moment that I have to mention is the rap part in the bridge, where delicate background vocals blink in and out of varying harmonies. The harmonies change from breath to breath, providing unexpectedly complex support for the rap. VICTON’s impressive vocals shine on “Timeline,” and it’s definitely one of their most remarkable tracks. Though “From. VICTON” failed to keep up that quality throughout, I’ll admit that this is a comeback I’ll remember longer than most of the others that dropped this week.
REMEMBER ME: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? Flop. But “Timeline” is a bop, don’t miss it!!
Take a look at VICTON’s “Remember Me” MV below: