GFriend kicked off their year with the release of their second studio album, Time for Us, and released an accompanying music video for their title track “Sunrise”. They had a busy and productive 2018, with the group looking set to continue delivering strong performances in 2019, if “Sunrise” is anything to go by.

The bittersweet music video opens with Umji‘s melancholic narration about a dream in which ‘they’ were together, even if it was for a short time. The ‘they’ is never specified, but in the video, it is represented by the members. The longing and the foreshadowing expressed through these three simple lines sets the stage for the rest of the music video. In particular, it is beautiful that the video concludes the way it started, with Sowon waking up from her dream.

“Sunrise” subverts expectations in several ways, both in its music video and as a song. It begins with a piano and string instrumental, sounding just like a normal ballad. However, the song then turns straight into a chirpy dance track in its verse, building in intensity until it finally becomes an emotional, dramatic masterpiece. The melodic transitions, though unexpected at times, are seamless and flow naturally throughout the song.

The members definitely get to display their vocal chops here, especially in the ad-libs and high notes they belt out toward the end of the song. SinB impresses here (as usual) with the delicate handling of her softer, quieter parts alongside her more powerful lines, but Eunha is the real standout of this song. That ending ad-lib of hers brings the song to such a climax and provides a majestic finish to the song. It is amazing to listen to how the members are able to handle a diversity of genres well within the same song and their talent shines through.

The music video is beautifully shot, and as expected of a song titled “Sunrise”, there are several gorgeous golden hour moments and scenes with warm colour tones. Surprisingly, however, as the song progresses these warm and spring-like scenes suddenly become colder, literally, with Umji playing the piano in a snowy landscape as opposed to Eunha playing it in the forest. The lighting gets notably darker toward the middle of the song as well, with the sun setting and the members wandering around by themselves, reminiscing their happier days.

Similarly, the members are clad in bright clothes for most of the music video, complete with floral crowns, but there are a few dance scenes in which they don black flashy outfits. While these lighting and costume changes are sudden and pretty disorienting at first, they match the increasing intensity of the song. These changes in the music video, along with small symbolic touches such as an unfinished cake, also effectively express the melancholic lyrics and bring out the drama of this whole piece.

I need you, you’re almost here

When can I get out of this darkness?

“Sunrise” ends on an optimistic note, however, with the sun rising once again and conquering the darkness that had beset the members. The scene of all the members finally gathered at the piano in the forest, with both featured pianists Eunha and Umji seated together, is a beautiful resolution to the dream presented in the music video.

It might seem bittersweet that Sowon wakes up from her dream alone, but it is also telling that the sun is shining brightly in the window behind her. As the lyrics point out, the rising of the sun may bring about an uncertain future. At the same time, it also symbolises an end to the darkness of loneliness and marks a new beginning.

GFriend really delivers in “Sunrise”, be it in the vocals department or in this music video. Well conceptualised and directed, this video successfully utilises even the smallest of details (a sole jigsaw piece together with an unfinished jigsaw puzzle; a broken telephone which starts working again when the sun rises) to convey its message. This surprising release is a great start to 2019 for the group, and I will continue to trust in GFriend to keep up this quality in their future comebacks.

(Youtube. Images via Source Music)