There’s a certain ilk of K-pop girl groups who pursue a lush, fantasy-like sound and concept. Lovelyz and Cosmic Girls often fall within this style, but Oh My Girl are the undisputed champs of the fairy tale motif. They’re at their best when marrying this aesthetic to avant garde songwriting that pushes at the edges of the mainstream. Over the years, they’ve streamlined this approach into a formula of sorts, developing that most important of assets: a signature sound.
Merging songwriters from their last two singles, Oh My Girl have spawned a mash-up of their 2018 work. The Fifth Season (SSFWL) (다섯 번째 계절) feels epic in scope, though it’s let down a bit by verses that don’t match the power of its chorus. The dynamics here are fine. Subdued verses contrast well with the song’s gargantuan hook, but I long for a tighter melody than the atmospheric slow-burn we end up getting. This has been a long-term criticism of mine when it comes to K-pop, but can sometimes be overturned if the rest of a song is stellar.
Luckily, The Fifth Season has one absolutely knockout chorus to fall back on. Once the beat rushes in, all the instrumental’s orchestral flourishes are suddenly anchored in a momentum-building release of energy that lets the girls push past cuteness to deliver full-throated power notes that send the song soaring. This would have been enough to satisfy, but Season offers an unexpected sucker punch during its post-chorus refrain, which brings even more percussion to the table as Oh My Girl unleash a wickedly catchy swirl of melody. This segment recalls everything I loved about last year’s Remember Me, and really delivers on the majestic sound their cinematic concepts promise. If it wasn’t for those forgettable verses, we’d have a perfect song. Even so, The Fifth Season is rock solid, and continues to evolve Oh My Girl’s gorgeous musical palette.