Song Review: UNVS – Sand Castle

When writing about boy group UNVS’s debut, I was struck by how vocal-heavy it was. In a K-pop landscape that favors concept, beat and choreo, it was refreshing to hear a song that emphasized vocal arrangement. Unfortunately, their follow-ups didn’t quite live up to this potential. But, the fourth time’s the charm with new single Sand Castle. Released just as we’re entering the fall season, the track offers one last blast of summer to get us through the transition.

Sand Castle is largely a straightforward dance track, elevated by its performance. It doesn’t attempt to break the mold, and succumbs to many of K-pop’s modern structural tropes. This includes a lurching second verse tempo shift, though the one here actually works because it’s built upon dramatic vocals rather than shifting percussion.

Speaking of vocals, there are plenty of effects and filters going on here. Probably too many, to be honest. But, I appreciate how the guys’ voices are almost exclusively the focus of Sand Castle. Yes, the sprightly production whizzes by in the background, but UNVS themselves are placed front and center. Their performance is arranged as a wave, layered together to create one single texture. The individual members don’t really stand out, but I think that’s intentional. As Sand Castle goes on, the melody becomes more impassioned and the voices blend like a watercolor. It’s an interesting, otherworldly approach, and one that turns this typical dance track into something more idiosyncratic. I don’t know that UNVS have yet found their knockout hit, but this points in a promising direction.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25


6 thoughts on “Song Review: UNVS – Sand Castle

  1. Nick, I really don’t know how you keep going to the well and still find 3 paragraphs of something to say about all of the boy band tracks that soundthisclosetoeachother. The song isn’t bad, it just sounds like every song released these days.

    I listened to all three this morning in a row. I remember that UNVS is pronounced Universe, that V is not a fake U as in Bvndit. (Oh sorry, that V in Bundit is actually supposed to be an A upside down, my bvd.) Then the Ghost9 had two interesting major chords in the otherwise minor song. And that is about it.

    I hardly remember BDC at all, and I just listened to the song twice. So I went back and looked up what I said about whatever BDC put out before. And here it is, dated 30Oct2019: “There comes a certain point when one reaches saturation of something. I feel like I reached that point several weeks ago for “basic kpop boy band sound”.
    Nick, I don’t know how you make each of these reviews sound so unique when the underlying songs are same thing only different. For that you get 10 for hooks, 10 for Longevity, 10 for Production, and 10 for Bias.”

    There. Lookee here, without even knowing it, I started to write just about the same exact thing.

    I have nothing else to add.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This reminds me a lot of what OnlyOneOf is doing. Which is, on average, better than what a lot of other lower-tier boy groups are doing, so fair play to UNVS!


  3. This song is a grower for sure. On first listen I wasn’t really sold on it but over time it’s growing on me a lot, I love the build towards the end and the way all of the member’s voices are layered over each other (something that’s slowly becoming a staple of UNVS songs for me). Overall, I quite like it.


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