This May, A.C.E released one of 2019’s most thrilling title tracks: the rock-tinged, attitude-driven “Under Cover.” The guys seemed to have found their niche, taking the intensity of their debut-era material and fusing it to a complex, inventive instrumental. Their new release “Savage” proves why I’m so adamant about idol groups finding the right collaborators and sticking with them. A.C.E remain as talented and charismatic as ever, but this track is just not good. In fact, I don’t think I can remember a more precipitous quality drop between back-to-back singles.
“Savage”, like most of their new album, is produced by a trio of new composers — only one of which was involved with “Under Cover.” Their relative inexperience shows. The track “goes hard,” but going hard does not automatically make for a palatable song. “Savage” is structured around one of the most obnoxious drops of the year, distorted and repetitive and just plain ugly. It’s the aural equivalent of a jackhammer, or a fire drill. “Under Cover” proved that a smartly-constructed pop song can harness this same kind of energy in interesting, addictive ways. “Savage” blusters about with obvious intentions, making it feel more like a poser than the real thing.
A.C.E themselves aren’t given much to do here. The song has very little melody, and what does exist isn’t developed at all. The guys are left to cast off lame couplets about how cool and swaggy they are, often with a generous (AKA unbearable) level of autotune thrown over the top. None of it really equates to singing, and it lacks the nimble flow of a good hip-hop track. Instead, “Savage” is one big, lumbering hissy fit. It’s a chore to listen to, and an absolute waste of A.C.E’s considerable potential.
IATFB says: The worst thing about “Savage” is that it isn’t even effective as a noisy hype song because of all the grating elements.