[Review] Monochrome (Color) – ATBO

It has been a while since I covered a newly debut group on the blog. More will be covered over the coming weeks, but I wanted to focus on the group that just debut today. ATBO is a seven-member male group debuting under IST Entertainment, the home of APINK. VICTON, THE BOYZ and WEEKLY. The lineup of ATBO consist of Oh Junseok, Ryu Junmin, Bae Hyunjun, Seok Rakwon, Jeong Seunghwan, Kim Yeonky and Won Bin. All the members participated in the survival show The Origin – A, B, or What? earlier this year, with the final seven lineup chosen to debut as ATBO. However, due to some controversary, the participant who took 7th place (Yang Donghwa) was pulled from the group, and Won Bin (who placed 8th on the show) was confirmed to debut in place of Donghwa.

ATBO’s debut single is titled Monochrome (Color), and it is a a decent debut track. Described as a hip-hop dance track, Monochrome has a balance of strong and weak points. Let’s talk about the stronger aspects of the song. The first are the song’s pre-choruses, with (and apologies if I get the members’ names wrong) Hyunjun’s rapping over a relatively stripped instrumental sequence. There was still a beat and some backing vocals from another member, but the stripping/lacking of the instrumental just helped make the rapping more prominent and the reliance on rhythm here was quite the bold statement. Monochrome also had some catchy hooks. They were a bit shouty and mainstream, but it was still good enough for me to enjoy. I also liked that the chorus had some melody to it, which tends to be left out in dance songs nowadays. The rapping elsewhere in Monochrome help bolster up the song’s body, which helps make the usually forgotten verses more significant. Finally, I enjoyed how the ending was approach, with the layering of high note and rapping and then the combination of an anthem sequence and a fully silent background at the end to close out Monochrome. I like this use of silence to give a monochrome effect in the actual song. Now, onto the more weaker moments of Monochrome. The vocalists’ sequences felt underwhelming to me, in comparison to the rappers (aside from that high note at the end). I am also not keen on the slow change in the bridge. This felt very cliché and typical. I also felt the song, overall, could have been more innovative. There are some hints of innovation during the stripped instrumental, but there were also very standard sequences (i.e. the rest of the instrumental) that got a meh from me. Overall, Monochrome was decent but a good start to a group’s career.

I like the use of colours for majority of the video, reminding us that ‘monochrome’ isn’t just a greyscale palette. Instead, the term ‘monochrome’ refers to one colour. Most of the scenes at the start of the video featured one prominent colour that stood out from the rest, playing with that idea of one colour. Clever. The red lighting in some of the choreography shots at the start, the green grass in one of the solo shots, the yellow sweater worn by another member during their solo shot etc. are examples of this use of one colour. But as the song expresses the members’ desire to paint the world with their own colours (taken from SOOMPI), the use of one colour slowly becomes diluted throughout the video. Also clever.

The performance in the first instance made me go wow. The sychronisation and sharpness of moves in this choreography was very full on. While this is a common aspect of comeback nowadays, it is impressive to elicit that response from essentially the first second. It also looks super cool during the faster moments of the video.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.9/10