ASTRO – 'RISE UP'
1. Always You
2. By Your Side
3. Call Out
4. Stay With Me
5. Real Love
ASTRO has just dropped their newest release to put some sizzle in your summer. "Rise Up" is the band's 7th EP. The band dubbed by Billboard as one of the best new K-pop groups of 2016 has declared they're not going to promote this one on music shows -- it's a special gift to the fans.
"Always You" is their title track. It's a fairly standard pop tune, with some insistent keyboard work in the chorus. It works precisely because of the enthusiasm and the slick packaging. Making this song even better is the two rap segments, plus some rap ad-libbing in the song itself. "By Your Side" features a chill beat. It starts off very slowly, with a tender piano. There are some sound effects in this one, some background noise that they use as music. I was interested in some of the ambient noise. The raps are pretty awesome, blending nicely with the melody. Jinwoo and Rocky kill it here, Rocky doing double duty as vocalist and rapper.
"Call Out" is like a song of hope. My spirits lift while listening to this. The highs here are also intriguing. I like the pounding beat, and the electronic effects in the background give this song a certain sonic texture. They're subtle, but they're there. "Stay With Me" is a fairly standard ballad, played on guitar. I like how they harmonize, and then the song picks up percussion and fills out more. Because it's a power ballad, they don't try and scream to be heard. They end it with a rap, which I also thought was a way to be different. "Real Love" is pure R&B. And I like some of the hip-hop elements like a backbeat and some subtle scratching. They definitely hit all the markers, with harmonies, raps, and high notes. It's a refreshing listen, with enough going on to keep you on your toes.
ASTRO has exceeded my expectations with this EP. I sort of expected a slam-bang title track and then some filler for the rest. But this release is not that at all. Not only did they give us a more low-key promotional tune, we also have a collection of solid tunes that stand well on their own. I can recommend this to anyone, fan or not.
This is the second MV in as many weeks that annoyed me in a specific way. This one does the exact same thing as the other one did -- showing me cool scenes interspersed with rather cheap looking sets. Now, I understand, I'm not looking for a Disney production full of 9-figure special effects, but there are ways to do more with less.
And they did what they could. Don't get me wrong -- there are some genuinely cool scenes and creative ways to do things without spending the moola, though I think there are some missed opportunities (like the glass dropping could have shattered instead). There are also some interesting shots like the shadows lengthening in a room as day rapidly turns to night and some interesting color choices when it came time to light a scene. However, there some scenes that just seemed just a bit bland, with some near featureless sets. And some of it I couldn't help but think that I'd seen it before.
MV SCORE: 7.6
ALBUM SCORE: 8.3