Three years ago, who would have predicted that the reunion of a 5-member Nu’est would be one of 2019’s most anticipated moments? Back in 2016, few listeners seemed to care about the group’s work, but that is certainly going to change when the guys release their first album after the highly successful Wanna One and Nu’est W projects. Before that happens, returning member Minhyun is offering a preview of what’s to come with solo track Universe (별의 언어) — his first work since the disbandment of Wanna One.
Like most material released by Pledis Entertainment, the song is co-written by producer extraordinaire Bumzu. Yet, it manages to feel distinct to Minhyun, putting his voice front and center. When Universe was first announced, I was certain it would be some sentimental ballad, but the track pulses with more energy than I expected. What first begins with a few plaintive strums of acoustic guitar gradually deepens as electronic elements are added.
This culminates in Universe’s chorus, which grooves with a surprisingly robust bassline. The melody here is a bit repetitive, but it’s a great showcase for Minhyun’s vocals (which were quite underused in Wanna One). He gives an impassioned performance, effortlessly sliding between head and chest voice. The post-chorus synth loop adds trendiness to what is otherwise a pretty classic sounding song, but thankfully it doesn’t go overboard. Pre-releases like this are all about building interest. On its own, Universe isn’t likely to become one of my favorite songs of the year, but it certainly makes me curious to see where Nu’est will go from here. Bring on the full group comeback!