To say that UDD’s “Run Deep” is one of the year’s most anticipated pieces of music is an understatement, as everyone who has invested in the band for almost two decades had been curious to hear them without founding singer Armi Millare, who left the band at the height of the pandemic. Indeed, the song has racked up over 54,000 listens on Spotify in over two weeks (with the video getting 13k views on YouTube), showing that longtime fans clearly still care enough to give the Millare-less version of the band a listen.

But is it any good?

“Run Deep” continues down the synth-pop path first mapped out on 2012’s “Turn It Well” and explored further in later tracks like “Stolen” and “Sigurado” on the original lineup’s last eponymous album in 2019. This time, however, there are no guitars or even acoustic drums; the remaining trio of Paul Yap, Carlos Tañada, and Ean Mayor have rebranded themselves as something akin to a local Kraftwerk or Depeche Mode, shedding “normal” instrumentation for synthesized sounds.

The most glaring departure from the UDD of old is of course, the vocals. Longtime bassist and co-songwriter Yap assumes Millare’s former role, at least for this comeback single. It’s a gutsy move on the band’s part to have one of their remaining members sing, but then again, replacing Millare with another female vocalist could prove to be more difficult, and be more prone to drawing comparisons to their former singer. It doesn’t take rocket science to explain that Millare’s were big shoes to fill, as her distinct vocal style was influential to at least one generation of aspiring singers-in-bands.

UDD Go On Synth-Pop Mode With Their First Release As A Trio, 'Run Deep' — Review

In any case, Yap holds his own behind the mic, with a whisper-y delivery that manages a memorable chorus melody. With UDD neither announcing nor teasing a replacement for Millare, having a male voice was not entirely unexpected, especially among longtime fans who knew that Yap wrote or co-wrote many of the band’s songs.

What’s more surprising is the lack of guitars and other organically produced textures on “Run Deep,” because it could use them. Clocking at over five minutes (too lengthy by today’s standards), “Run Deep” does have some subtle climaxes, but overall it’s a bit too sparse and lacking in dynamics for it to hold the average listener’s attention all throughout. Incidental guitar lines and acoustic snare hits would have added a wider variety of sounds, if not a sonic connection to the UDD of old.

“Run Deep” is a decent synth-pop track, and I find myself enjoying it more with repeated spins, but in the end it’s neither remarkable nor mind-blowing, even if you listen to it while treating the current UDD lineup as a brand new band, without comparing it to the older material. Still, it’s a brave piece of music simply because it exists, and reflects the remaining trio’s tenacity and will to push forward with a new sound and purpose. It’s unquestionable how talented Yap, Mayor, and Tañada are, and I look forward to hearing what they’ll come up with next.

Watch the official video for “Run Deep” below.