CNBLUE have been around long enough now that their music has settled into a somewhat predictable pattern. Their specific brand of soft rock is always pleasant, but rarely that inventive any more. Such is the case with new Japanese single, Glory Days, which opts for a familiar sound rather than messing with what’s always worked for them.
The song’s synth-kissed instrumental melds light guitar work with piano and a pop-minded beat. It’s not quite fast-paced enough to dance to, but I’m not sure I’d call it midtempo either. The verses have a nice anthemic quality, which seems to be building towards something big. But although the chorus is introduced with some effective stadium guitar stabs, its actual melody feels slightly underwhelming. I like how the tempo intensifies, but I wish the hook went to a more interesting place. As is, it just kind of comes and goes without much impact. Rather than needing a more dramatic sound, Glory Days could use a central melody with less repetition and more ambition.
Honestly, this is sort of my gripe with CNBLUE’s material in general. I quite like them as a band, and they have a few tracks and albums that are particularly impressive, but much of their more recent output just doesn’t connect on a visceral level. Songs feel tailor-made to fit into specific, radio friendly boxes without stretching and pushing on the boundaries dictated by this genre. I want to feel like CNBLUE are really letting loose, like their labelmates FTIsland have been allowed to do over the past couple of years. Obviously, the two are very different bands with different sounds, but I know they have it in them. Now is not the time for coasting.