It’s a testament to YG’s entertainment’s incredibly sporadic release schedule that this release doesn’t feel nearly as monumental or long awaited as it theoretically should. After almost 2 years away as a result of mandatory military enlistments, Winner have returned to the scene with a bang, giving listeners a surefire head rush with the bright, buoyant and incredibly catchy I Love U.
By ditching the urge to go dark or emotional, the group have leaned into a certain soundscape that’s been all but left alone in the modern K-pop sphere. The bright synths that punctuate I Love U‘s immense chorus are a testament to this, bounding forward on a sense of incredible optimism that oh so perfectly accentuates the kind of energy that I crave from K-pop summer. It may lack the sophistication of some of their past summer tracks but makes up for it with its sheer playfulness and fun. And though the extended falsetto that carries this centrepiece may grate for some, it works absolute wonders for me, acting as both a cathartic exclamation as well as a hilarious over the top production choice that leans into the sheer absurdity that I just love in my K-pop.
The performances are equally as great, injecting a suitable amount of personality and charisma into the track that helps elevate the tracks quieter moments into mini highlights. The pre-chorus especially takes a much more restrained approach than expected and really works thanks to the sheer number of unique vocal tones present within the groups small but incredibly solid roster. At this point in their career Winner have very little to prove but it remains a testament to their skills as performers that they’re still at the top of their game after all these years and whilst shifting between so many different genres. In many ways I Love U is a track that doesn’t really do anything new, unique or experimental but what it does it does really well. A characteristic which already helps put it above many of the years other high profile offerings.
Final Rating: 8.75 / 10