As BTOB continues to rise in their homeland, they’ve also carved out a pretty successful career in Japan. Though I find much of their j-pop material to be more reductive and schmaltzy than their Korean output, there’s no denying that the big balladry of L.U.V allows the guys a platform to display their substantial vocal prowess. Whether the actual song measures up to its sound is another story.
To be clear, L.U.V is more impressive than their last Japanese release, the Hallmark-esque Dear Bride. It has a darker undertone, expressing a wider gamut of emotions through a series of well-timed bursts of vocal bombast. The melody comes in swells, flowing over a dramatic brew of strings and piano. More than anything, its cathartic nature gives it a specific purpose. It’s not the type of song I see myself playing on a regular basis, but there are times when this wave of pure angst suits the moment perfectly.
I hate to pinpoint one specific member of any group when speaking negatively, but the weakest point in L.U.V is the same element that turns me off many BTOB songs. Quite frankly, the English raps need to go. Peniel is from the States, so he should know better when it comes to the truly cringeworthy, cliche-ridden English that often litters BTOB tracks. I don’t know if he writes his own raps, but the juvenile poetry here brings down everything around it and transforms something quite stately to something clunky and awkward. It’s a shame, because the main vocals are on fire.