Ever since their debut, Astro has stuck with a lighthearted, ultra-pop sound. This is one of the reasons I’ve been so excited about their music. Many boy groups seem to be intent on showing how hard and edgy they can be, but with Astro it feels like the song and melody come before the posturing. So when it was announced that they would be working with producers LDN Noise, who are most well-known for their edgy work with SM artists like EXO, NCT and Shinee, I wasn’t sure what to think. I love LDN Noise. I love Astro. But would I love them together?
I shouldn’t have worried. Though Crazy Sexy Cool (니가 불어와) matures the group’s sound a bit, it’s very much within the lighter end of LDN’s productions. It’s also a refreshingly straightforward pop song, which is becoming harder and harder to find in today’s k-pop. This streamlined approach left me wanting more the first time through. I’ve become so accustomed to listening for variations or breakdowns or unexpected genre mash-ups that something this streamlined almost felt like a disappointment. But sometimes simple is best — especially when a group can pull off the sound so brilliantly.
In many ways, Crazy sounds like Astro covering Shinee. Its serpentine verses and smooth, slinky chorus could have easily found their way onto 2015’s Odd. But Astro have a secret weapon in the form of their gorgeous, airtight harmonies during the track’s pre-chorus. A focus on vocal harmony and blend is certainly not new for k-pop, but it’s been some time since a song embraced this classic sound so giddily. In fact, the vocal production and arrangement is stellar all around, switching from hard hitting hooks to more subdued delivery with polish and panache. Add to that an incredibly funky bassline and Astro have delivered a throwback that grooves in the best possible way.