Since their debut in 2015, boy group Romeo has suffered a bit of an identity crisis. Of course, being absorbing into a different agency right as your career is starting can certainly result in some growing pains. But in less than two years, the guys have been a mini-Infinite (Lovesick, Target), a mini-Shinee (Miro) and now a mini-Teen Top. There’s no hiding it: Without U is generic. But at least it’s quality generic.
Producer Brave Brothers sees to that, giving Romeo a pleasant summertime bop at the tail end of winter. Without U (니가 없는데) doesn’t begin so promisingly, opening with a cringey declaration of their return over a forced breakbeat, but the song quickly rights itself as those familiar Brave Sound synths kick in. The verses are pure roller rink bliss, floating over a warm instrumental that feels as light as air. It’s a smart match for Romeo’s youthful tone, even if it doesn’t let the guys show off anything that might distinguish them from their many peers in the k-pop game.
Without U‘s two-pronged chorus is also effective, punching forward on the strength of power pop guitar stabs and smartly-placed backing vocals. It quickly morphs into something even bigger, as the oft-repeated titular refrain beats listeners over the head with its sticky hook. Better yet, the song actually improves as it grows more immense, particularly when rushes of electric guitar usher in the final, celebratory chorus. It’s nothing we haven’t heard a million times before, but it makes for a buoyant piece of pop music that almost reaches the heights of Romeo’s Sweetune-produced 2015 work.