Despite debuting with immense promise with the wonderfully slinky and effortlessly cool Movie Star, CIX and I have failed to really connect past that initial effort. I haven’t enjoyed any of their albums and neither of their past two lead singles did much for me either. As such, my expectations for Cinema were rather reserved. Though the teasers pointed towards a brighter, more melodic sound for the group, I’ve come to not trust teasers in the slightest. But sometimes things really do work out and the laidback retro funk of Cinema is exactly what I have been wanting from the group.
Right off the bat, Cinema is a new sound for the group. Ditching the edgy, EXO-esque dance pop sounds favoured by their past three singles, Cinema goes full on RnB disco, favouring heavy doses of melody and a satisfying slap bass and rhythm guitar assisted instrumental thump. It’s a sound that fits the boys extremely well and the more streamlined song structure benefits them supremely. Every CIX title track before this has suffered from the same issue and that is the presence of an untimely breakdown. Cinema corrects this fault by maintaining a consistent tempo and instrumental that doesn’t deviate much from its initial (and engaging) rhythm. The rhythm guitar assisted instrumental acts the perfect compliment to groups bright and affecting vocals, which all at once sound hopeful yet equally emotive. The harmonies here are just gorgeous, lending themselves to arguably the groups strongest vocal performance yet. And the chorus is a fantastic display of their vocal abilities, leaning into a gorgeous vocal blend that we’d only seen sneak peaks of in past singles. This is probably the best use of Jin Young’s forceful vocals in a CIX song yet and I’m here for it.
The melody here is also instantly memorable, melding the catchy “cinema cinema cinema” hook with an equally affecting secondary hook. It’s probably one of the years most instant choruses, acting just as well as a fully throated centrepiece and an addictive ear worm. But as great as the chorus might be, my favourite moment might just be the pre-chorus, which employs a gorgeous galloping melody over a heavy inclusion of slap bass. I just love how the vocals are layered here and they really give Cinema an added sense of depth. And while Cinema is a little too straightforward to really stand as an instant stunner, It’s a strong effort from CIX I have faith it will get even better over further listens.
Final Rating: 8.5 / 10