South Korean group Cross Gene released its sixth extended play, “Mirror,” last week and it still has me reflecting on life.
“Black or White,” the mini-album’s title track, opens with a struggle. The dance-pop-infused-orchestral-sounding track exudes an eerie and mysterious vibe as a man fights for his woman, an internal struggle with the good and bad in him and how that translates into his relationship.
“Black Mind” follows, confusing the listener initially, as lyrically, it has the same verses as “Black or White,” with a similar instrumentation set more in the background. The chorus, however, is entirely different from the previous song, and is melodically manipulated. Performed by vocalists Takuya and Seyoung, and rapper Casper, the song highlights the darker, more demonic side of a man’s mind, fixated on the anger and passionate fervor unhealthy in a relationship.
Then comes “White Mind” with vocalists Shin and Yongseok, and rapper Sangmin. A softer pop song, “White Mind” employs a vice versa effect of “Black Mind,” having different verses but the same chorus as found in “Black or White.” The melody shifts and merges into the same sound as “Black or White” for the chorus, but its verses remain poignantly different in both the theme and melody. This song highlights the more angelic side of a man in a relationship, the cutesy and heartfelt sentiments expressed by a lover.
Both “Black Mind” and “White Mind” are used to explain the meaning behind “Black or White” — it is a battle between good and bad, love and perversion, purity and evil and how this all translates into how you view and handle yourself with a romantic partner.
The fourth track, “Yeonaejichimseo” (translated roughly to “Love Guide”), was a bit of a pill to swallow. Telling the story of a man who knows the inner workings of orchestrating a solid relationship, the melodic components were a bit of a let down. The chorus and bridge both sounded pleasant, but within the verses, the best way to describe the instrumentation is New-Orleans-with-electronically-produced-brass-sounds-that-uncomfortably-jut-into-the-main-melody, and it takes away from the experience of the song. Its saving graces are the vocal talents of Shin and Seyoung, who take their ranges to beautiful new extremes.
The album closes with instrumental renditions of both “Black or White” and “Love Guide,” leaving the listener soothed and satisfied.
Known for its ever-evolving style in the nearly five years since its debut, Cross Gene proved once again for its fans what true artistry is, how to tell an album-long story with catchy tunes and meaningful lyrics that make you question the self you see in the mirror.