When Astro’s Moonbin and Sanha made their sub-unit debut in 2020, I was smitten by the funky pop of Bad Idea. I didn’t think much of the album itself, but that song seemed to offer a great template for future work. New mini album Refuge was preceded by last month’s Ghost Town — a trendy, minimalist track that pointed toward a musical reinvention. If you ask me, this is all a very ‘bad idea’ indeed.
The members of Astro are immensely talented, and they’ve already showcased a breadth of sound that proves they can tackle any genre. So, it becomes a matter of preference rather than skill. I can’t blame the guys for attempting the brittle, beat drop sound that makes up Who. I can’t even say they don’t pull it off. But, that doesn’t mean I enjoy it.
On the plus side, Who plays with some dynamic textures. The distorted guitar that makes up its central hook is a commanding presence, and the ever-shifting percussion is captivating from a musical production standpoint. Though I’m sure this skeletal groove is entirely computer-based, it has the feel of ‘found sounds.’ Most of these samples sound like car crashes, spliced and shifted and fused into place. But in the end, Who feels more like a performance piece than a song. It’s a track you may be able to stand back and admire, but its fitful nature is hard to get lost in. Every time you think the song may be going somewhere, the instrumental pulls the rug from under your feet. Some listeners might delight at the experimental nature of this approach. For me, “experimental” only works when anchored to at least one killer hook.