After completing their four seasons album release concept, boy group Astro are back with new producers, a (slightly) new sound and the next evolution of their boy-next-door pop takeover. As someone who was a massive fan of their work with the Iggy/Seo Youngbae producer team, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little sad that they’ve changed direction so soon, but “Baby” retains much of the energy and melodic focus that made Astro my top rookie of 2016.
Borrowing from the tropical pop craze (when will it end?!), “Baby” sees the group smooth out the more rambunctious pop leanings of their past work. The song’s synth-sprinkled bop feels like the boy group version of WJSN’s “I Wish“. The two tracks share a few of the same composers, so this makes sense. Though the verses of “Baby” are ultimately less memorable than a song like “Hide & Seek“ or “Confession“, they retain the anything-goes mix of playful melody and charismatic idol hip-hop that made those singles such a treat. Astro have been an extremely energetic group since their debut, and excel at taking a straightforward pop track and bettering it through the addition of their freewheeling, fun-loving vibe.
The first time through “Baby”, I felt that the chorus was too predictable. It doesn’t soar like I wish it would, too indebted to that tropical synth beat to paint outside the lines. But the track improves as it goes on, culminating in a final chorus that injects a bit of electric guitar to invigorating effect. In this way, “Baby” sneaks up on you. I anticipate that it will have strong staying power throughout the summer as it provides a solid stepping stone for Astro’s continued maturation as a group.