20160426_seoulbeats_lovelyz_destiny_8It’s been nearly five months since we last heard from Lovelyz with the sweet – but relatively forgettable – “For You.” Now, Woollim‘s rookie girl group is back with the beginning of A New Trilogy that kicks off with the dreamy single, “Destiny.”

A New Trilogy makes for a very fitting name for this release, as it signifies a small shift in Lovelyz musicality. While there was plenty hype (and controversy) leading up to the group’s debut, once they hit the scene with “Candy Jelly Love,” Lovelyz seemed to fall right into step with a slew of rookie girl groups who were marketing the same, innocent, cutsey concept — but with slightly less catchy songs on Lovelyz’ end. “Destiny,” then, begins the group’s shift away from the pleasant but conventional, and into a newer territory of experimentation with their style.

While hints of the conventional “girl group” (read: innocent) concept remain, “Destiny” marks significant development for the eight-member group – or at least for their production team. “Destiny” is an interesting mix of throwback sounds, romantic chord progressions, and stylized vocals. Altogether, these elements create a dramatic tone that is a far cry from the cute crush concepts they’ve been promoting.

20160426_seoulbeats_lovelyz_destiny_1“Destiny” has those familiar Boys Over Flowers OST vibes that strike a nostalgic chord with me. It’s like “Almost Paradise” meets an anime intro theme – with a hint of the instrumentals that characterized the dramatic build-up of every mid-2000’s K-drama. It’s familiar enough to stir my emotions, but with more contemporary elements added. The tone of “Destiny” is fantastical and romantic, yet littered with dramatic instrumental bursts in the chorus and bridge that create appropriate amounts of tension while building momentum.

The dramatic backing track works to make “Destiny” appropriately dreamy for its lyrical content. The swooping chords and final cascading notes of the chorus transitions all work to craft a musical dreamscape that falls right into place with the longing the members feel for a heart they can’t possess.

Are you dreaming of her again today?
When I’m here, shining on you?
Your day has ended like that again
But one day feels like one month to me

I hope that dream breaks, I hope you’ll wake up tonight
When you’re calm
I hope waves crash down in your heart

20160426_seoulbeats_lovelyz_destiny_6However, with so much tone and texture worked into the backing track, the members’ vocals feel a little too flat and emotionless in comparison. It’s obvious that the vocals are stylized with purpose, I’m just not convinced that the style itself is doing Lovelyz any favors. There are ways to deliver stylized vocals while retaining vocal character, and I hope in future tracks we see Lovelyz able to accomplish just that.

Beyond the track, the MV for “Destiny” also shows Lovelyz potential for more conceptual visuals, and marks a movement away from the school girl narrative they’ve been playing up for the past year. In the MV, the members are suspended in waiting for the love they long for. Between the shots of members paired together or daydreaming alone, the visuals convey the same longing tension of the track. Lovelyz aren’t upset or frustrated by the unrequited love; instead they are patiently dreaming of the day they can call their love their own.

The MV with it’s constant circular camera motions is a little dizzying. At the same time, the filming style plays right into the feel of the track; it flourishes with movement in moments of tension and calms down in the calmer verses. Yes, there’s a lot of spinning, but it’s all done with purpose. Even for being relatively plotless, the MV still manages to reflect the sentiment of the track itself while showcasing some pleasant enough visuals and appropriate circular motifs.

20160426_seoulbeats_lovelyz_destiny_5I’ll admit, nearly a year and a half into their debut, Lovelyz has never managed to catch my attention short of thinking of “Achoo” every time I sneeze (it doesn’t help that Oh My Girl tends to come back around the same time, every time). What’s so frustrating about Lovelyz is that Woollim clearly has an intended concept and niche for the group, but despite all the planning and continuity, Lovelyz simply aren’t filling the niche as well as other groups like GFriend – or even their seniors, APink – are. This in no way means that Lovelyz lack the talent to be successful, but more simply, it means that they have yet to release a single that makes me think “Ah, this is Lovelyz.” They’re one of those groups that I think needs just one killer track to set them apart and throw them in the limelight.

Is “Destiny” that track? No. But, it’s a step in the right direction.

With “Destiny” I see a promise of change that can hopefully showcase an interesting sound, as well as more diverse and thought-out concepts.

Song and MV: 3/5

Readers: What sets Lovelyz apart for you? How do you feel about “Destiny”?

(YouTube. Images via Woollim Entertainment. Translations via Pop!Gasa.)