A.C.E’s “Callin” follows up on one of 2017’s most interesting debuts. Not only did the group tackle an unusual electronic sound with “Cactus“, but they also performed the song with a flair for avant-garde, gender-bending fashion. And given the splash that they made back in May, it’s no surprise that they’ve chosen to double down with “Callin”. The guys may only have two songs under their belt, but they’re already beginning to develop a style all their own — and that’s a minor miracle within the trend-driven world of K-pop.
“Callin” incorporates A.C.E’s now-trademark hardstyle sound and high-tempo structure, but luckily the song isn’t a complete retread. Its verses are more atmospheric than “Cactus”, growing from a ballad-esque melody to an extended electronic build that intensifies before the track crashes into its mile-a-minute chorus. Like “Cactus”, it’s all quite disorienting and overwhelming the first time through, but further listens streamline the instrumental’s busyness.
What I like most about “Callin” (and “Cactus”, for that matter) is that the song never leaves listeners with a chance to breathe. Even in its quieter moments, the track sweeps you up and throws you around with a constant assault of synths vying for your attention. Underlining it all is a delightfully retro electronic arpeggio reminiscent of 90s video game soundtracks in both tempo and execution. For A.C.E’s part, they ably keep up with the song’s demanding energy, coolly casting off the kind of power notes most idol groups would build an entire track around. Their performance doesn’t feel as personality-driven as a lot of modern K-pop, but the sense of abstract power fueling their music continues to captivate.