It feels like it’s been forever since Astro was active as a group. They released their Rise Up mini album last summer (led by the underrated Always You), but scheduling contracts prevented them from promoting. Thankfully, Fantagio Music is making up for lost time with the group’s first full length album. Most of its tracks bring a welcome dose of uptempo energy, but title track All Night (전화해) frustratingly keeps the guys in mid-tempo territory.
Of all the newer generation groups, I never would have expected Astro to move down a moodier, mid-tempo route. This isn’t automatically a bad thing. Like I mentioned, I found Always You to be quite dynamic and enduring. But, for a group who debuted with the most addictive kind of dance-pop, I’m a little disappointed to hear them begin to blend in with all of their peers. I get why they do it. Pop groups and their agencies always want to be “taken seriously” eventually, but artistic integrity is not mutually exclusive with high-octane dance music. As you all know, I take my fluffy bubblegum pop very seriously.
There are many things I like about All Night, but it does feel like the group’s weakest single yet. They’ve enlisted producers LDN Noise once again for a soulful blend of modern EDM elements and retro synths. The song’s recurring synth line is instantly familiar, perched somewhere between Bigbang’s We Belong Together and Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls. This gives All Night a classic shimmer that improves on an otherwise languid arrangement. The central melody does a good job interacting with this instrumental, offering a cohesive build towards the wistful chorus. There’s more focus on hip-hop here than ever before, as the second verse brings in a trendier flow that feels at odds with Astro’s older sound. I could do without the skittering hi-hats thrown over the top (both Astro and LDN Noise are better than that), but the arrangement maintains enough individuality to shine. Like other songs of this nature, I have a feeling All Night will grow on me. I’d just hate to see Astro ditch their bright, fun-loving energy altogether.