Infinite's 'The Eye' is Dramatic in a Good Way

Friday, September 23, 2016

Having wrapped up their second world tour last year, Infinite made their long-awaited comeback just a few days ago on September 19th with "The Eye", title track for their sixth mini album Infinite Only.

Infinite has always been one of those groups that manages to stick to their own distinct sound and image, while trying out different concepts. "The Eye" is a good example of that. Although this concept feels more mature than their last releases "Back" and "Bad", it is still very Infinite-like.

"The Eye", composed by BEE of Rphabet, starts with a ballad-like intro, though the tempo of the song changes in the chorus as the instrumentals take over and eventually the song transitions into a dance track. It's somewhat of an odd arrangement, with the song beginning with a very epic build-up, but after the chorus this climatic tension is suddenly disrupted with a breakdown. 

This is also where my only complaints lie, which is that the transitions between these sudden drop offs can be quite jarring, but considering how solid the individual parts of the song are, I really don't mind it that much. 

Another, smaller gripe I have is the inclusion of awkward English samples (e.g "why did you stop the music", "alright, alright"), which I think would sound off-putting in any song. Thankfully, they're not as prevalent in the context of the entire song, so it's easy to forget them after a few listens once you've gotten used to it.

What I particularly appreciate about "The Eye" is perhaps that all the members get to sing, as opposed to differentiating between the vocalists and the rappers in the group. I don't generally have a problem with Dong Woo and Hoya's rapping, but mandatory rap verses inserted just for the sake of it can often ruin a song and make it feel disjointed. Since "The Eye" already includes quite a few unusual transitions, it really doesn't need anything else to cut off a verse or chorus. 

The first verses over a simple piano melody, which the song starts out with, have this almost theatrical music quality to them. Performed wonderfully by Sung Gyu and Dong Woo, this slow, almost menacing build up in the intro with these sudden string stabs is awesomely epic without being over-the-top. 

As Woo Hyun takes over, the song begins a more stable lead-in to the chorus, with other members joining in. The chorus is not as majestic-feeling as the verses the song began with, but it is very catchy. Although Sung Gyu's vocals can get nasaly when he sings in a higher pitch, I really enjoy how he controls his voice during the chorus. With Woo Hyun's smoother, stronger vocals and gentler voices of Sung Yeol, L , Hoya and Sung Jong offering a little variety, the overall effect is quite harmonious.

The music video for "The Eye" is quite interesting in itself, offering rather many ways to interpret it. In the storytelling part of the video, which are contrasted to the dance performance clips, each of the members seems to portray a certain emotion, as is hinted at the beginning of the video when we get a glimpse of dictionary definitions of the following emotions: fear, regret, sadness, hate, desperation, courage, forgiveness

It is somewhat ambiguous which emotion is represented by which member, though Hoya clearly represents hate, Sunggyu courage and Sungyeol fear, while L, who's taking the lead role in the story, is either sadness or desperation. It is also unclear whether these emotions are stages of grief or a lost love, as the lyrics hint more at a romantic connection, though the video seems to tackle a drearier thematic, with L looking particularly bereaved throughout.

In any case, I'm rather impressed with the directors vision here as well as the members' ability to convey the emotions in a way that's sorrowful, but not overly melodramatic. As a whole the video comes together beautifully, particularly with the bleakness of the story scenes expressing a rather moving bond between the members, while the cinematography stays consistently poignant. 

Although the performance clips take a backseat in the video, they're included prominently enough to show off the powerful choreography. The dance is quite energetic and complicated but Infinite, being a group well-known for their amazing teamwork and synchronization, executes it seemingly effortlessly. 

To see the full dance performance, however, it is better to watch their comeback stage at M Countdown below.

Overall, I think it's safe to say "The Eye" is a success. Although I find the song as a whole a little bit disjointed, I love its individual parts enough to want to praise the composing for attempting to do something that stands out. Moreover, I am extremely impressed with how the song, dance and video each seem to tell a story on their own, yet come together nicely as one. 

So while "The Eye" doesn't beat "The Chaser" in my heart of hearts, I am still very happy with the group making a comeback with a more mature concept, yet still staying true to their own musical style and image.

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