Astro’s development from bright, cheerful youths into a smoldering group of young men has been ongoing for a while. It started softly with the sleek “Crazy Sexy Cool,” and came into full form last year, when the subunit Moonbin & Sanha cemented that transition with their dark and sensuous “Bad Idea.” Now, the whole group is back for more with “One,” off their second full album, All Yours.

“One” is Astro’s most bombastic, in-your-face title track until now. Experimenting with futuristic electro synths and trap beats, the song finds its spice in a new jack swing chorus that recalls Y2K boy band nostalgia. Astro’s rap line is another astonishing surprise in this track, revealing skills that the general public might not have known before. In particular, Rocky stands out with his whispered, rapid-fire bars, and leaves an impression worthy of a replay. It’s “Rocky’s Era,” as fans might say.

The saying stands true when watching the MV. Rocky’s styling is by far the most experimental out of the sextet: a semi-ponytail, hair tinsel, and chains adorn his black, long hair throughout the MV. His solo shots inside a purple sandbox, with purple paint on his face and a fake lip ring, are memorable. He dominates the screen with a sharp, energetic performance during the dance break.

But the other members don’t fall much behind, as “One” does a great job highlighting their uniqueness. Some other notable looks are Eunwoo’s icy blue hair paired with red eyeshadow, MJ’s dotted makeup and eyebrow slit, JinJin’s red eyelid streaks, Moonbin’s earrings, and Sanha’s nose ring giving him a rebellious edge.

Aside from visuals, the most notable aspect of this MV is the use of light and color to express the song’s message of “coming as one.” Lyrically, “One” makes use of broad metaphors that can be interpreted through multiple lenses. The “we” Astro refers to can mean their lovers, their fans, or themselves as a group. Through this fusion with an other, Astro hopes to make their “monotone world” more vibrant:

We come as one
Gathered here in the brightest moment
(Drawing a star in the highest place)
A small circle under our feet (Me next to you)
This world gets bigger than the universe
Moving each other forever

In the MV, the moments before this unification are translated through the colors red and blue. This pairing is often perceived as polar opposites (think fire/water, for example), enhancing the feeling of contrast and separation. Most of the sets make use of cold, bluish tones, while Astro’s outfits and other details are predominantly red.

“One” doesn’t rely on immersive storylines or fancy props. Instead, it’s a minimalistic, performance-heavy release, in line with many of their recent MVs like “Knock” and “Blue Flame.” This time, industrial scenarios — metallic boxes, a garage, neon light bars — are gateways for Astro’s temporary arrival. Their sterile, bare surroundings puts the focus entirely on the members.

In the beginning, Eunwoo is seen entering this futuristic station, which implies that Astro is in a transitional, transformational space. The ending furthers that idea with close up shots of each member staring into the camera, and then turning their backs to leave the scene through a holographic bubble. Now unified, they have better places to go.

Another interesting aspect of this MV is the camera work. There is a push-and-pull for dominance between the audience and the members of Astro. Who is watching who? The camera spins around the members, dollies up and over their figures, pushes in and out of their gaze.

It scrutinizes these newly-arrived beings, as if asking “What are you doing here?” But it also shakes under their powerful choreography, and spins with a flick of their hands. This restless battle matches the song’s dynamism, never settling into boredom.

But the MV’s smartest, most symbolic take is that, as it progresses, red and blue turn into violet: Astro’s official color. The shot where the members stand on a makeshift stage, fully dressed in purple suits is where this fusion is best seen. Under a violet hue and dazzling lights, doing what they love and sharing that with the world, Astro’s performance represents a culmination point. They have finally “come as one.”

As a group with such remarkable beginnings, Astro has a harder time than most establishing new identities. But “One” is proof that their talents extend far beyond expectations. It’s a simple MV, but executed with intention and originality, as well as giving all the members a chance to shine in their own way. Although Astro’s next steps are a mystery, they are surely headed in a good direction.

(YouTube. Images and lyrics via Fantagio Entertainment.)