Rather than the big-name, big agency rookies that peppered 2019, 2020 has seen much more modest debuts. We’ve had several of these so far – the kind of idol groups who are swimming upstream from their very first release. The K-pop industry is ridiculously saturated at the moment, and unless you arrive with pre-debut hype or major agency support, the odds are not in your favor. UNVS (Universe) fit within this category, though they have an interesting ripple in their story. According to the internet, the guys have already made their debut in Taiwan, though I’ve been unable to find any trace of that music.
Their K-pop debut single Timeless doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s a nice, melodic mid-tempo. When I first clicked on their music video, I wasn’t expecting this kind of chugging, lighters-in-the-air pop track. I have a soft spot for this style, which melds the sentiment and power of a ballad with the propulsion of EDM. In Timeless’s case, I don’t think the chorus is particularly strong. It’s almost there, but doesn’t provide enough modulation to stand out. Instead, the track follows an expected route, building to a cathartic refrain that layers the guys’ voices in an effort to sound immense.
The production throughout is a little murky, but it’s on the right track. I could do without the trendy synth flourishes that follow each chorus, though I understand why the composers felt the need to include them given current tastes. Timeless is at its best when it spotlights single voices. Its opening verse unveils plenty of potential, as the members’ pleasing tones take center stage and guide us through the evocative melody.
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This isnt bad. Actually it’s pretty good. What could have elevated it to very good, almost leaving everything else as is currently produced, is more vocal layering with a generous salting of soaring high notes wafting above the chorus. The break is ready made for a high note or three but they just didnt go there.