Over the past few years, GFriend have started to branch out when it comes to their sound. Gone are the days of Iggy/Youngbae-produced title tracks, replaced with a rotating list of composers intent on pulling new elements into the core GFriend style. This mix-and-match strategy has largely been successful, though it threatens to steer the girls toward more generic territory. They risk sounding like everyone else, and new single Fever (열대야) skirts dangerously close to that line.
I did not need tropical pop from GFriend. In fact, I don’t need tropical pop from anyone anymore (unless it’s really, really good). As Fever kicked off, its brisk tempo gave me hope. I’ve been itching for another Navillera-style GFriend track for years, and the instant build here seems to echo that energy. Unfortunately, this brief segment is immediately followed by an overly familiar tropical drop. It’s not a bad example of the genre, but its sound-alike nature is definitely disappointing.
The rest of Fever follows an oddly fluid structure, circling back to the same refrain without ever building to much of a peak. This causes the song to feel overlong and a little unsatisfying. The groove is nice, and definitely suited to a stereotypical summer, but Fever lacks the punch of GFriend’s best title tracks, despite being composed by one half of the Iggy/Youngbae dream team. There are moments when the song wants to take off (especially the breathless, synth-dripped pre-chorus), but like so many tracks of this style, Fever constantly has to work its way back to its non-starter hook/drop combo. This approach still seems to click with the Korean public, but it‘s long since worn out its welcome with me.