AB6IX’s solo project 5NALLY is mostly one long dirge, where the members’ personalities take a backseat to the kind of trendy music that prioritizes “cool” over interesting. Lee Daehwi’s Rose, Scent, Kiss stands as a beacon of authenticity amid all the generic pop surrounding it. It’s not a tremendous track on its own, but benefits from comparison and embraces its performer’s strengths.
It’s gratifying to see Daehwi lean into his more androgynous tendencies as an idol, especially within a group that has largely played it safe when it comes to musical choices. In many ways, Rose, Scent, Kiss feels like the kind of sultry dance pop track that would usually be given to a female performer like Sunmi. Daehwi has publicly stated his appreciation for her work in the past, so the similarity is likely intention. The song also borrows one of Sunmi’s frequent collaborators in producer Frants. His ear for a pop melody elevates the final product.
Much of Rose’s verses are the kind of the trap-pop nonsense that I complain about daily, held aloft by finger snap percussion and Daehwi’s own charisma. They don’t do much for me, but they lead into a chorus that offers a needed anchor for the track. The instrumental brings in more electronic elements, coupled with a catchy, beguiling hook that makes as good a use of the English language as any comeback in recent memory. The refrain is both confrontational and vulnerable, and the mix works well. It triggers a stronger second verse, which plays with melody and phrasing in a way that maintains interest even as those incessant trap beats continue to bluster in the background. Given a different arrangement, Rose, Scent, Kiss could have been an absolute revelation. As it stands, the song settles for being the definitive highlight on a severely underwhelming album.