In a year already flush with debuts, it’s going to be hard for smaller agency acts to stand out. In Purplebeck’s case, at least their name is easy to google! I’m not sure what a ‘purplebeck’ is, but I’ve long since given up trying to understand K-pop monikers. They all become part of the common lexicon with enough time. What I do know is that this five-member group hails from Majesty Entertainment, an agency with only soloists to its name thus far. Crystal Ball isn’t different enough to instantly set them apart from the crowd, but it does have its charms.
Composed by duo Coach & Sendo (who don’t produce nearly enough K-pop material), Crystal Ball opens with a punch. Percussive guitar segues into a handclap-and-harmony blast of pop bliss. The song’s verses are also fun, offering a simple, sing-song hook that gets things off on the right track. Unfortunately, a jarring pre-chorus makes for an odd fit. The key raises sharply, with an unpleasantly shrill bit of mixing that should have been toned down. This is a brief stumble, but upends much of the goodwill the song had been building.
Crystal Ball’s chorus is better, delivering a quirky melody over a strong percussive stomp. There’s more than a little bit of Red Velvet experimentalism at play here, though it’s nowhere near as polished as what an agency like SM could pull off. Still, I enjoy the rollicking rhythm that anchors most of Crystal Ball. The girls’ performance never succumbs to hyper-aegyo stereotypes, which could have been an easy temptation for a song like this. With stiff competition, time will tell if Purplebeck will be a rookie to watch. For now, they’ve left a decent impression — with some kinks to work out as their discography grows.