Dearest G-Friend, please stop typecasting yourself!
When you first made your debut in 2015, I thought that you were going to be yet another saccharine girl group – you can’t blame me; you were introduced to the public as sweet, young school girls. But with your subsequent releases like “Me Gustas Tu” and “Rough”, you proved me wrong and demonstrated that you were capable of being feminine without being cloying. And then, compounded by a stroke of (mis)fortune, you rapidly gained popularity despite your rookie status. That was really nice.
And then came your first full-length studio album, LOL. LOL was all kinds of wonderful. With the end of your high school trilogy, this album brought you into a new era. While you were still, understandably, reliant on your trademark, energetic dance moves and feminine sound, you started to explore various new musical genres. Of the twelve tracks, there was a surprisingly large range of styles, from pop to reggae, R&B to rock, and even some house. You really showed off your growth as musicians and as artistes.
But what happened this time with The Awakening? With LOL as the perfect springboard for your propulsion into new musical grounds, why did you regress, instead, back into your comfort zone? Of the six tracks in this fourth mini-album, only two stood out – your title track, “Fingertip”, and to a smaller extent, “Rain in the Spring Time”. “Fingertip”, with its retro influences and slightly grungy touch, is quite different from your usual cheerful style, and “Rain in the Spring Time” is, at least, not boppy like the rest of your album, even if it isn’t really a ballad.
These two songs aside, the rest of your album, unfortunately, was a little disappointing. You were cute, feminine, and youthful, which is not bad — I know, this was what helped you earn numerous accolades — but cute, feminine, and youthful, can only go so far before starting to sound bland and repetitive.
I understand that there has to be some sort of linearity in your image and style across your albums so that you can create a congruent trademark identity. But creating an identity and actively pursuing musical growth are not mutually exclusive! For example, you could cement your identity through your lyrical style, while pushing forward with your musical progress.
Over the years, I have realized that you are rather creative in expressing yourselves through your lyrics. Your lyrics have always been very reflective of your youthful hearts. You have also always been able to find creative analogies, staying away from sappy, lovelorn lyrics even if a lot of your songs centre on the idea of young love.
For example, you often make use of nature to illustrate your feelings, such as in “Water Flower” and “Mermaid”. You have thus been able to distance yourselves from the cheesy, carefully maneuvering the precarious balance between youthful and immature. This is really quite a strength!
In The Awakening, you once again proved yourselves in this aspect. “Contrail” is a rather creative analogy that discusses an unrequited love:
I chase after your heart that flows away
I hold my breath and run to you
Ready at any moment, I want to tell you my feelings
A bit bolder, please tell me your feelings
Between the narrow gaps of our hands, please come closer
Right at that place, please fill up the sky
Draw your feelings out, for me
You also went the extra mile, this time, in your lyrical exploration of youth and innocence with “Please Save My Earth”. As a song that is about, well, saving our Earth. It was demonstrative of your dreams for the future, and also reflective of your young, hopeful hearts.
You know it’s you. It’s you; it’s fixed
You know what? No, no
I do not believe you
In the middle, beyond the River of Time
It’s moonlight, protect my planet
So, really, please stretch yourselves a little more musically, G-Friend, is what I’m trying to say! There are numerous ways in which you could possibly do this. Some easy starting points would be, for example, to produce a couple more ballads, maybe some songs in the minor key, or to go a little further in your previous explorations of different musical genres.
Stop worrying about your image because even if you do start to vary in your musical sound, there are other ways in which you can keep your image intact, as aforementioned. Moreover, nobody wants to listen to a group that stagnates musically.
As a group that has only promoted for two years in the industry — and as a group hailing from Source Music, a small company, no less — you are remarkably accomplished, and I believe that that is quite indicative of your talents. Your current concepts have been rehashed one too many times now. Although they might not have failed you yet, it is really time to move on now to new things — greater things.
Album Rating: 2.5/5
(Yonhap News; Lyrics via GfSquad, KPopScene; Images via Source Music)