Breaking their own sales record this week with their eighth EP Labyrinth, k-pop six-piece GFRIEND are maintaining a steady stream of releases following their debut Japanese full-length back in November.
The opening title-track comes straight out of the gates with a coarsetrance synth lead line, interjecting funky guitar-filled verses and free-flowing vocal harmonies. But despite all its promise, the girls’ vocal deliveries in the choruses lack the impact or variety heard in the passages preceding them. In fact, they could do away with it altogether, and have that epic synth riff ringing outinstead.
Crossroads meets a similar fate, even though they take an orchestral-pop route. It’s Disney-esque sparkle gives way to a racy punk-pop beat, but the outcome is little more than tame.
Eclipse is stylistically similar with the flamboyant string glissandos, but quickly diverts to what can be only described as a disco hoe-down. Vocally, GFriend sound a lot more comfortable, intertwining their harmonies delicately within the arrangements, and is sure to be a bop to some listeners. Others, however, might be scratching their heads over what the group are vying for here.
Here We Are is far more direct, incorporating some J-pop chord influences from their recent Japanese album release, syncopating with glitch rhythms, and then unleashing the euphoric and freeing calls, “Here we are/In a place where we were most beautiful/Here we are/In a place where all our seasons are here.” Dreamcatcher, meanwhile, shows a nice meld of electronica pulsing, gentle R’n’B grooves and effortless singing to create a relaxing atmosphere to match the song’s title and end the release on a high.
This release is a labyrinth of ideas at first, but GFriend show us they can find their way through it.