A few days ago, ONEWE covered Infinite’s The Chaser and (obviously) scored huge brownie points from me. It also reminded me how much I enjoy the band when they really rock out. Too often, their title tracks settle on a more morose energy. On the plus side, this offers the chance to spotlight the group’s fantastic vocals. But, I’m starting to wish they’d release another title track as upbeat as 2020’s End Of Spring.
New single Universe (너의 우주는) is definitely not that title track. In fact, it doesn’t sound like a typical title track at all. The song is delicate and ponderous — much more suited to a drama’s OST than an idol comeback. It’s relentlessly beautiful, which can be said about pretty much every ONEWE song. But, it’s not doing much for me. Maybe I’m ready to move beyond sentimental balladry as we kick off this new year. Or, perhaps I’ve just reached my limit on emotional ONEWE rock ballads.
With this said, I can’t fault the song’s construction and delivery. It ticks all the boxes you’d hope it would, down to a cathartic guitar solo during the climax. But, the central refrain loops around so often that it gets a bit repetitive by the time Universe has finished. I’m not sure the melody is striking enough to warrant such repetition. It has moments that soar, but feels weighed down by its own structure. Thankfully, the instrumental adds a welcome sense of movement, its piano-led base soon joined by strings and that aforementioned guitar.