VIXX -- SHANGRI-LA
2. Into the Void
3. Black Out
4. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
5. To Us
6. Shangri-La (Inst)
Celebrate VIXX's fifth anniversary with their fourth mini album, 'Shangri-La.' Continuing their mythological concept album cycle, this time they are experiencing paradise, inspired by the Chinese fable 'The Peach Blossom Spring.' Devine-Channel ("Fantasy," "The Closer") produced the title track. Ravi took part in writing the lyrics for every song, and the fourth track is all his.
The title track, "Shangri-La," is a slow-burning track, I particularly like the main verses, where they stuff as many syllables as they can in a machine gun vocal attack. The synth wubs are restrained, almost insubstantial, evoking the feeling of clouds. The chorus rises to a crescendo, betraying the initial quiet of the rest of the tune. The whole tune captures the feeling of anticipation, and this heightens the tension and gives the song an epic feel to it. Awesome and entirely true to their concept.
The next tune, "Into the Void," almost has a sort of pleasing feel to it, and the repetitive hooks in English do everything to lend that feel. "Killing me" and "stuck in misery" also hew closely to their overall dark concept, powerful lyrics indeed, especially given the delivery. I love how this tune works because while it's danceable, it's still entirely grim and foreboding. This is VIXX at their finest.
"Black Out" is a more traditional club-banger. It starts out quietly enough, then it quickly acquires a frantic tone, with a sense of urgency. It's this that builds tension to the chorus. The grammatically awkward "I'm thinking your body" surprisingly makes for an effective hook, and there are some naughtier lyrics besides that. Ultimately, it breaks from concept because it's all about attraction to some lovely lady, but I on second thought that could be considered another form of paradise.
Ravi penned the first ballad on here, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5." If "Black Out" was the love affair, then this track is the breakup. Here, Ravi has constructed a tune that gives all of the boys a chance to show off their sensitive sides. He even slows it down during the raps, shedding his fire-spitting persona for a more pensive one. It's a gentle, sweet tune, assuring her that she'll be fine, not him. The harmonies help give this an ethereal feel.
Almost seeming to be the end of a three song story, the second ballad is "To Us." This one is actually a little twisted, with paradoxes like "once again for the first time," and "you don't love every day." This almost tells me that the guy realizes how broken he is, and how broken she is, and still wants to be a stand-up guy. I like how this sounds. It lacks the excesses of run-of-the-mill ballads and is up to VIXX's dark standards.
This is one of their better concept albums. One of the reasons I like it is that it sticks close to their bleak and forbidding concepts. Even "Shangri-La" sounds like there's a hidden ominous side. I also like the mini-love story after the main tunes. I don't know if that was intentional, but I have to think that it was. Bravo!
As lyrical as the song is, it's nothing compared to the MV. With moons, clouds, cherry blossoms and fans, the boys convey the feeling of a paradisiacal landscape. Here, the laws of physics don't apply, as one moment one might appear inside a moon, or leaning against it, feet up in the branches of a tree.
The feeling is quite outre, a little dark, but mostly comforting. The imagery and the boys move slowly albeit deliberately. Every second appears to have a purpose. There's symbolism galore, whether we're seeing through a window or seeing a bizarre tattoo on Ken's shoulder.
It's never really unsettling, and I have to hand it to them -- that's not easy to do in an alien landscape. I love the way this was filmed, with slow movements changing rapidly, to the silhouettes and dreamscapes. The camera angles are well-done, too, tight shots where you need them, and showing just enough to whet your appetite for more visuals.
The clothing emulates night clothes in the individual shots, as if this were all a dream, from pajamas to full-on robes. The boys wear suits during the dancing sequences, which are exquisitely synchronized. The movements are done particularly well, hypnotic even, and I love how they slice their air with their limbs. They get particularly forceful during the chorus.
As much as I like the song, I can say that I like the video about as much. It doesn't look like they skimped on this one, and is about as well done as any other VIXX MV, maybe more so. We're looking at another winning shot, IMNSHO.
MV SCORE: 9.3
ALBUM SCORE: 9.3