Astro have been put through the wringer these past few months, as their agency Fantagio came dangerously close to collapsing. This pushed a planned June comeback to July, restricting the group’s ability to promote their title track on music shows. It’s been nearly nine months since their last comeback, but they’re back with a song unlike anything they’ve released before.
When I imagine an Astro summer single, a brooding mid-tempo is certainly not what I want. Given this, Always You (너잖아) had an uphill battle from the start. Its Chainsmokers-esque EDM drop feels behind the trend, and the track is missing the bright pop energy that characterizes Astro’s most addictive releases. Yet, the song works thanks to a strong injection of melody and the group’s standout vocal performance.
Co-composed by veteran producers Duble Sidekick, Always You feels like Astro’s answer to Seventeen’s Don’t Wanna Cry. Like that song, it straddles the line between understated ballad and driving performance piece. The first verse’s gradual climb feels surprisingly dark for Astro, as the members deliver a restrained melody over minimalist production built on moody guitar and tentative percussion. The polished vocals carry this segment, which otherwise feels as if it could have been lifted from any emotive boy group track of the past few years. Always You’s EDM-fueled chorus is even more derivative, but it’s twisted in just the right ways to make it a surprise highlight. The performance here is stellar, and I love the hook’s choppy structure. It pulses with a push and pull energy that gives its angular melody added drama. The processed vocal that opens each chorus is a wonderfully ethereal touch, bringing layered texture that plays perfectly against the jagged instrumental. This may not have been what I hoped for from an Astro comeback, but it opens some fascinating new doors within their already-assured sound.