Over the past few years, my connection to GFriend’s music has started to fracture. From 2015 to 2017, they released some of my absolute favorite K-pop songs in recent memory, culminating in the flawless trilogy of Rough, Navillera and Fingertip. Since then, the group has lost too much of the power from their “powerful innocence” concept. They’ve switched collaborators, giving their work a more ornate, ethereal quality. This is especially apparent when listening to their burgeoning Japanese discography. The songs are still good, but they no longer feel legendary.
Such is the case with new J-pop single Fallin’ Light (天使の梯子). Much of it plays like the quintessential GFriend song, but even when the beat kicks in for the chorus, it just doesn’t hit the highs I know they’re capable of. Apart from Yuju, the members have relatively light timbres to their voices, causing already airy material to feel even more intangible. Fallin’ Light’s verses nearly evaporate from memory even as they’re unveiling, anchored only by the kind of sentimental, strings-laden production that characterizes so many songs of this style.
Fallin’ Light’s chorus is much stronger. Its blend of symphonic elements and sprightly dance beats hearkens back to material like Rough, but the melody isn’t nearly as captivating. It has a lyrical appeal, drawn out and unlabored. I just wish that any one moment hit me as hard as Fingertip’s lethal synth funk or Navillera’s climactic double whammy of power notes. Apart from this summer’s surprisingly trendy Fever, the girls have traveled this wispy, fairytale road for too long now. Fallin’ Light is another solid entry from them, but it’s all starting to feel a little redundant.
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