Monday, December 19th, 2016

Infinite – The Eye

The everlasting gaze…


Jessica Doyle: “The Eye” ought to be good: it’s got the same elements of “Back” — strings, swirls, chunky percussion — without being a copy of “Back”; it’s not Infinite endlessly rehashing their old Sweettune formula, that having been properly bequeathed to Snuper and 100%; it’s not Infinite rehashing any formula, given the unconventional structure, in which the first chorus slows the song down and the second chorus signals the end is coming. It’s good, it’s fine, it’s — oh goddamnit it’s a disappointment, and not just because BTS showed up a month later with a combo of falsetto, staged homoeroticism, and dramatic dance that easily out-Infinited Infinite. The swirl of a typhoon may be in “The Eye” but the energy isn’t: there’s a brief hope, when Dongwoo starts low and the strings come in to emphasize his point, but that threat peters out. It’s all the more frustrating for knowing, exactly, where that energy has been: in “Back’s” explosion after the drop; in Dongwoo’s “hopless world” followed by Sunggyu’s panting, desperate key change in “Paradise“; in the unnerving opening and powerful choruses of “The Chaser.” By contrast “The Eye” is turgid, and yet too competently executed for delight, too slow for camp, and too high for the gentlemen themselves to be comfortable. (Dear Woollim: when L, the most pliant member of a disciplined group — not to mention your best draw in the increasingly inaccessible Chinese market — spends promotions complaining about his throat, you are officially mismanaging your assets.) It’s good, if you like Infinite. I love Infinite. They deserve better.

Madeleine Lee: I can’t ignore how my brain maps this onto “Back,” but I also can’t fault Rphabet for trying to repeat that song’s success. I can fault them for making everyone sing too high again in the middle section, and for those godawful TV dialogue samples, which have gotten worse with each single since “Destiny.” (“Why did you stop the music?” made me guffaw out loud the first time I heard it, which is not a good look for me nor for them.) On the bright side, they’ve given us more of the dramatic fusion EDM that made “Back” so brilliant. And they continue to have a good ear for line distribution: the nominally rapping members contribute possibly even more as singers, and Sunggyu’s force on the penultimate line gives me chills.

Iain Mew: It’s nice to get practical confirmation of what I wrote back in 2014 — that “Back” would still work but be significantly less spectacular without being arranged around its giant drop. 

Jonathan Bradley: “The Eye” take a while to get going, even when its ponderous piano intro is joined by stern string stabs and, subsequently, a galloping drumbeat, like it can’t work out whether it wants to be a silver-medalling figure skating routine or a huit-points worthy Eurovision entry. The best moments derive from some juddering post-chorus pyrotechnics that are augmented by, with delightful incongruity and precision timing, snippets of what sounds like English-language action film dialogue. A charismatic frontman would pull all this together, but the Infinite guys contribute a vocal too grasping, too untextured, to make the most of the space offered.

Alfred Soto: I wish I could listen to the work tapes. How’d the hell they pull this mélange together? Synth strings, guitar plucks, duck samples, cheerleader step dance percussion — all it’s missing is a Jeremih appearance. Kim Sung-kyu’s vocals are on the shrill side, which I’m able to accept if I regard them as more landscape.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: Contrary to an idea based on previous fails, there is a right way to combine robotic, glacial percussive breakdowns with the lushness of string arrangements and micro-atmospherics. You just get producer BEE to show you how it’s done. 

Will Adams: “The Eye” is a Frankenstein monster of pop templates — piano prettiness, boy band downtempo ballad, electro-disco, aggressive EDM drop — that, while competent on their own, together result in an incoherent mess. Most hilarious is the dubstep belch at the very end, as if the song is wheezing out one final, pathetic breath.

Brad Shoup: It’s this irregularly wobbling planet, and these really nice square-jawed men are stranded on it. Modern vocal pitchshifting bumps against pop-rap-style sampled dialogue. Carelessly synthetic strings flail over peanut-brittle drums. And Infinite plays it as mannerly as they possibly can.

Ramzi Awn: “The Eye” has no shortage of catchphrases, and its ability to combine balladry with mania is admirable. Unnecessary but welcome, the tight hyper-pop single should come with a warning for those weak of heart: do not exceed six plays in 24 hours unless directed by a doctor. 

Katie Gill: The cheapest sounding opening ever thankfully doesn’t last long before it’s replaced by really lovely pianos and strings. The song’s good, but the high point is Sung-jong’s astonishingly beautiful high register. Let’s hear more of him on this kind of generic love song!

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