Though I didn’t rate it quite as high as I should have back in February, Astro’s debut Hide & Seek has quickly become one of my favorite songs of the year. They bring a bright sense of pop melody to k-pop, and for that I’m very grateful. The trend continues with summer single Breathless (숨가빠). And though it’s not quite as strong as Hide & Seek, it’s another effortlessly fun (and supremely catchy) pop track.
Working once again with the Iggy/Youngbae composing duo, the Astro sound is in full display as soon as the first chorus kicks off the song. Few rookies groups are capable of infusing a track with so much personality. Breathless is a burst of excitement from the get-go, never letting up until it’s finished. Initially, I didn’t feel like the central refrain was particularly impactful, but repeated listens have proven otherwise. It rides on a tropical mix of synths, guitar and delightful syncopation. The (mostly) wordless post-chorus that follows is likely the track’s biggest hook, conjuring images of sun and sand with its breezy, instant singalong nature.
Importantly, the verses tie everything together without feeling like placeholders. Nothing soars as strongly as their debut, but the build to the chorus comes close. Rap segments are well incorporated, feeling like exciting asides rather than obligatory opportunities for the rappers to display their talents. I’m less sure of how the song will age compared to Hide & Seek, as it’s so directly tied to its concept, but for now it’s a welcome beacon of summertime bliss.