In only a couple of years, GFriend went from being my favorite active girl group to a hit-or-miss prospect whose album tracks are often better than their singles. As usual, this shift came with a change in producers. The group abandoned their “powerful innocence” sound – courtesy of composers Seo Youngbae and Iggy – for something more light and lyrical. This approach worked the first time around with 2018’s Time For The Moon Night, but has faced diminishing returns ever since.
However, the chance for new transformation is upon us again. GFriend are now under the Big Hit umbrella, which presumably unlocks potential for a host of new collaborators. But while the group has dipped their feet into new waters on their new mini album, title track Crossroads (교차로) is very much the same thing we’ve heard from them these past few years.
My central issue with Crossroads is that it’s just too lightweight. Yes, there are string sections aplenty swirling around the bulk of the song, but the percussion is too thin and inconsequential to properly anchor the track. Stylistically, this is reminiscent of popular J-pop groups like Nogizaka46 and Keyakizaka46. However, those acts feature dozens of performers and often stuff their tracks with all sorts of dramatic turns and flourishes. Apart from main vocal Yuju, GFriend have relatively light and airy vocal tones. Paired with an equally light and airy instrumental, the result borders on bland.
Crossroads boasts a decent chorus, though not on par with either Moon Night or last year’s Sunrise. Its stuffed-to-the-brim instrumental has a cinematic appeal, coming across as a pseudo-soundtrack to an imaginary on-the-road film or drama – nostalgic and sentimental. Electric guitar briefly rears its head at the track’s climax, as if to remind us that this is still the same group that delivered the mighty Fingertip or bombastic Navillera. But rather than bolster Crossroads’ allure, it just makes me long for the GFriend of 2015-2017.
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