With Viviz being composed of three former GFriend members, it seems nearly impossible not to think about the disbanded group when listening to the trio’s work despite them being under a new company. Their first two EPs Beam of Prism and Summer Vibe had bright and bubbly tones, bearing many similarities to GFriend’s discography. However, their third and latest mini album VarioUS takes on a different direction with a chic atmosphere. And as per the album title, the six new tracks vary a lot in mood and genre while being presented within the same sleek black and white frame.
Though the presence of their previous group is still noticeable, VarioUS is a confident step out of GFriend’s shadow.
Title track “Pull Up” is probably the fiercest we’ve seen Eunha, SinB, and Umji aside from a few special stages. The charismatic pop song makes use of addictive brass sounds comparable with many idol group numbers from the 2010s. These are also accompanied with a groovy bass, disco-like synths, and fun cowbells. And while the anti-drop chorus can feel hollow with the instrumental focusing mainly on the percussion, this allows more spotlight on the members themselves.
The vocal arrangement lets the girls show off more of their range, especially their lower registers. SinB and Umji even pull off brash raps during the post-chorus, a quirk that’d be difficult to imagine with GFriend’s signature sound.
There’s also a strong message in the lyrics as the members sassily reproach those who gossip about others:
So just pull up, don’t get your hopes up high, back it up
Yeah, I say buzz off, I don’t care what you think, yeah
It’s over, everything sounds obvious
Count me out from your foolish imagination
Unlike you, I’m a little busy (Oh, yeah)
It’s not easy changing concepts and some artists do so with less than desired success. But with “Pull Up,” the mature tune feels quite natural for the members who have already spent nearly a decade in the industry. Though the number may be too minimalist for some listeners, it’s still nice to see the trio settle into a distinct sound of their own.
Following up with the funky vibes are B-sides “Overdrive” and “So Special” with their engaging groovy rhythms. The former leans a lot into the city pop genre and features a tender, fantasy-like instrumental that is both passionate and soothing. And with their silky vocals, the girls bring listeners to a hazy, romantic space as they sing about taking a drive outside the city:
One, two, the road spreads like watercolors
Right now, we’re on top of the dazzling world
Get out of that boring city somewhere
Close your eyes and go to the place you imagined
The melody feels extremely light and ethereal, as if the listener is continuously being carried higher and higher in the sky. The tune is a bit reminiscent of GFriend’s dreamlike songs, and the members perform the piece effortlessly.
“So Special” also has a slight city pop feel but has a more prominent nu-disco tone with a captivating bassline and tasteful synth sounds that give off a nice, retro mood. Coupled with reassuring lyrics, the number feels incredibly warm and acts as a great pick-me-up for discouraged listeners:
Girl, as reflected in the mirror
It’s enough even now, good enough, tell me, good
I’m the one who comforts me
Even if you doubt it, good enough, tell me, good, oh, na-na
It’s a very comfortable listen that gives plenty of room to breathe. And the inclusion of the string and piano instrumental break right before the final chorus, while brief, also adds a lot to the cozy and relaxed ambience.
Moving into R&B territory, “Vanilla Sugar Killer” makes good use of retro synths like “So Special” but offers a bit more attitude. As its unique title suggests, the song is sweet and sugary while also being sharp and deadly. The melody is smooth yet bouncy and creates a strong party-like feeling that’s ideal for a girls’ night out.
“Love or Die” also has a marked R&B vibe particularly with the velvety vocal melody. But in contrast, the instrumental is more upbeat with alluring guitar sounds that give the pop number an exciting Latin touch. Here, the girls are decisive when it comes to love and induce listeners to do the same. “Yes” or “no.” “Cold or hot.” “Love or die.” The trio are only giving two options: love or death. There are no vague or uncertain feelings whatsoever.
But while “Love or Die” describes a deep and intense love, swing-inspired tune “Blue Clue” provides a completely different perspective. The color of love is not just a hot, heart-fluttering red, it can also be a cool and calming blue. Love can be gentle, powerful, and puzzling at times. Red is simply not enough for such a complex emotion. And rather than having to decide between red or blue, the members convey a trickier kind of love as they sing “Oh, red eye but my heart is blue.”
Musically, although the instrumental is minimalist, the quirky rhythm gives the track a lot of character. This combined with the mischievous vocals creates a sly and crafty atmosphere with a unique old-world charm that helps make the number a sure standout.
Considering all of the tracks, VarioUS offers a variety of tunes with many different sounds and ambiences. But with each song, the trio are smooth and polished throughout which works well in producing a cohesive album that’s perfect for easy listening. The record is a solid addition to Viviz’s young discography as the trio continue to shape their own musical identity.
(YouTube. Lyrics via YouTube, Genius . Images via BPM Entertainment.)