When GFriend returned last month with Love Whisper, my initial reaction was overwhelming disappointment. How could a group known for their powerful, dynamic music release something so safe and forgettable? Love Whisper eventually won me over, and I convinced myself that its generic structure was only a temporary shift to win over those who may have been put off by Fingertip‘s explosive synth style. But with Summer Rain (여름비), they’ve doubled down. Fans have speculated that it’s all part of their “parallel” concept, making Rain a more downbeat shadow of the buoyant Whisper. If true, this idea holds plenty of potential. Unfortunately, the song plays like a less charming rewrite of its already problematic predecessor.
So, we’re at a point where disappointment becomes frustration. Summer Rain includes many of the group’s hallmarks, from its retro 90’s beat to the classical sample that bolsters its instrumental. I’ve even seen some compare its vibe to last year’s immaculate Rough. But while Rain mixes in many of these familiar ingredients, it lacks the energy I’ve come to expect from GFriend. This might not be a problem given a more enticing melody. After all, a song called Summer Rain doesn’t exactly spur anticipation of a dancefloor banger. But in keeping with the parallel theory, the song’s chorus is practically a copy-and-paste of Love Whisper‘s — just a little sadder. The two share the same progression, giving Rain a tired sense of “been there, done that.”
Thankfully, the aforementioned classical influences help to draw attention even as the melody drifts into obscurity. The piano that closes each chorus is absolutely lovely, as are the resonant strings that buttress the second verse. If producers Iggy and Youngbae had crafted these moments into more of a focal point, they might have salvaged the song. But as it stands, Summer Rain is a fine album track that never really needed to be a single. More than anything, it makes me wonder where GFriend goes next. They can’t simply rewrite the same song with different emotional tones, especially after giving us a trio as perfect as Rough, Navillera and Fingertip. That would just be a cruel waste of potential.