Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

A.C.E – Take Me Higher

Another day, another boy band…


Jessica Doyle: With regard to our conversation earlier about Korean groups trying to distinguish themselves from K-pop norms, either by music, presentation strategy or implying that the members are better treated and/or given more space to create than their peers (side note: as a longtime B1A4 fan, I’m hoping that negotiations between the five and WM Entertainment result in the best possible outcome for the former, but it’s hard to tell right now what’s going on, ahem) — anyway, A.C.E does not take that strategy. They embrace the tropes. They will trope and then trope and then trope a whole lot more. You want cute? Have cute. You want dance? Have dance. You want random videos of them in hotel rooms? I’m now in the habit of thinking, when my phone beeps at 8 am EST, “Oh, A.C.E must have posted another VLive.” The only place where they don’t slavishly conform to norms is their singles: first the hardstyle of “Cactus” and now “Take Me Higher,” a blissfully trop-house-free single with a fully fleshed-out chorus. Otherwise they meet expectations so thoroughly and enthusiastically that they end up, paradoxically, standing out.

Julian Axelrod: Far from the competitive element found in most boy bands, “Take Me Higher” finds the A.C.E lads one-upping each other with increasingly giddy contributions to this pop confection. House pianos interlocking with smooth disco-funk guitars? Yes! A gigantic, gorgeous chorus that soars as high as the title suggests? Hell yeah! A cocky rap interlude? Uhh sure, but let’s get back to that chorus! By the time we come back to earth, the only clear winner is the listener.

Anjy Ou: A joyous burst of Motown-inspired pop, and a welcome break from K-pop’s usual synth-heavy dance tracks. There’s a depth and a complexity to the instrumentation that puts it way above its most apparent Western analogue. And I particularly love the layered vocals under the rap break. The singers sound legitimately ecstatic too – you can’t help but get caught up with them in the rush of new love. If all my summers sounded like this, I would not be mad.

Alfred Soto: The wan Motown-ness is a drag.

Ryo Miyauchi: The sashaying pianos tempt me to go along with “Take Me Higher” as more a house-y dance song, though the sky-reaching chorus makes clear the song is classic boy band pop. It’s in the volume at which they express desire: just the thought of being together inspires them to shout to the heavens in ecstasy. Yet as much A.C.E smothers, the delivery remains light to the touch, with the group smoothly tracing the path that guides the chorus to its climax.

Alex Clifton: This is so funky and fun and soars for much of the song; the one misstep is the bridge towards the end where things slow down when they really shouldn’t. But it’s got a dance piano! One day the devil’s going to come for my soul and he’ll be playing a dance piano all the way down to hell, and I’ll dutifully follow because I’m a sucker for riffs like this. And, honestly, pretty much any combination of “catchy piano/repetitive hook + affable vocal performance + some dose of charisma” is usually enough to warrant a [6] or higher from me, so…

Micha Cavaseno: A jump-up disco-funk number that plays fairly tame but manages a supple vitality to prevent from falling into pure cheese for the sake of retro-chic. The lounge-trap bridge in particular is functional and could use a little more embellishment and excess, but the simplicity never feels too slight. Instead, “Take Me Higher” constantly skates along the edge of making you wish you had just a little more.

Reader average: [4.33] (3 votes)

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2 Responses to “A.C.E – Take Me Higher”

  1. I burned myself out waxing poetic about Wanna One even though I wanted to blurb this… but I do have to say that this is their first single to stand pretty well as a song without the performance carrying it along for me. Kind of the total opposite of Hotshot’s Jelly or anything Nu’est W has been doing in terms of appealing to a missing member thanks to survival show groups also.

  2. Uhh note that I mean specifically that kind of schmaltz and not anything that SHINee or 100% have been doing this year (obviously.)