With half of its members completing their military service, Winner have found the perfect window to release an album before another inevitable hiatus. When it comes to most groups, military enlistment feels like a huge upheaval of momentum and schedules. But, YG Entertainment makes its fans suffer through lengthy periods between releases anyway, so a new Winner album after two years is pretty much par for the course. Maybe this has been the agency’s grand plan all along!
Winner have returned in good spirits, offering an upbeat summer bop in contrast to many of their peers. I appreciate the energy and sentiment so much. I wish I loved the song as much as I love the concept, but I Love U is musically buoyant, throwing elements of funk pop, retro synth and playful hip-hop into a blender and emerging with an upbeat tonic that’s a lot of fun. Parts of the track (especially the rap) have an impish charm in keeping with past summer hits. I’m thinking Pentagon’s Shine, in particular. I also appreciate the cool little pre-chorus, which forgoes a predictable build for a sticky melody instead.
My stumbling block with I Love U is its chorus. Subjectively, I find it a little… irritating. The falsetto is expertly delivered, but the melody borders on shrill and feels kind of jokey for my taste. The songcraft is clearly seeking an effusive rush of emotion and I think this works. In fact, I think the whole track works. I just don’t know how it’s going to age. I could see this going either way for me.