It’s been close to six months since Gfriend has made a Korean comeback with Sunny Summer. After successfully breaking from their repetitive cycle last July, they made their first inroads to Japan. Now back in their native country, the sextet has released Time For Us, their second
In many ways, Time For Us maintains Gfriend’s musical signature of softer pop-rock and R&B vocals. “Sunrise” is a prime example of this, along with “It’s You” and “A Starry Sky”. It’s very on-brand and instantly recognizable as Gfriend. This extends to the arrangements, with the vocal runs and harmonies that Gfriend is known for making multiple appearances.
However, this is paired with a pivot towards electronica- and dance-influenced sounds. These range from the more subtle EDM drop integrated with woodwinds and an acoustic guitar on “Our Secret” to “Truly Love”, which pulls from The Chainsmokers at their peak. Overall, Time For Us has a great deal more energy compared to their previous releases, providing a much-needed burst of momentum that helps carry the album forward.
Honestly, this shift towards a more energetic sound is a great move for Gfriend. Not only does this allow them to break out of a mold that has gone stale, but it provides a level of maturity that Gfriend has desperately needed. Their youthful wholesomeness is what put them on the map, but that is a concept with a definitive shelf life. The usage of tones and genres more associated with young adults gives Time For Us a dose of gravitas that helps the wholesomeness shift into a more age-appropriate context. Whereas before Gfriend tended to sound like naive girls, here the soft vocals and earnest delivery comes across as optimistic young women; ladies who are hoping for the best out of love rather than being ignorant of the worst.
Unfortunately, Time For Us falls victim to Gfriend’s biggest issue with their releases — the tendency towards repetition. When Gfriend finds a sounds that works, they tend to stick with it longer and more excessively than they should. While Time For Us has a lot working in its favor in terms of pushing Gfriend’s boundaries and expanding their image, it’s undercut by the glut of samey-sounding music.
While Time For Us does have Gfriend breaking out of their sound mold, they are still locked into the midtempo beat with a vengeance. This album is 13 tracks of midtempo pop with varying levels of electronica and bubblegum influences, all with Gfriend’s soft, delicate delivery. The end result is that is album blurs together in the mind into a dancey, lovestruck soup. It’s a nice soup that provides excellent background music, but it’s still soup.
Moreover, there aren’t any tracks that stand out one way or another. I wouldn’t say that Time For Us has any outright bad tracks, but neither are there great ones. Sure, “Glow” has the light twinkling and sassy vocals, and “Love of Love” has a killer bass breakdown, but that demands a replay, or even your full attention. The closest a track gets to popping is “Memoria”, which is a remake of their Japanese debut, and sticks out due to the string-heavy arrangement not fitting with the rest of the album. Time For Us just collapses under the weight of excessive and unimpressive sameness.
It’s rare that a critic says this, but Time For Us should have been a mini rather than a full album. The musical ideas are there, but the long runtime and surplus of filler tracks keep it from reaching its full potential. Pared down, Time For Us could have been a strong entry in Gfriends discography. As it stands, it’s alright, maybe even good, but that’s where it tops out.
Images via Source Music, YouTube