By not promoting the excellent Labyrinth as a title track this February, GFriend are responsible for the year’s biggest missed opportunity. But, when the composers of new single Apple were revealed, it seemed that K-pop might see some justice after all. Among the thirteen (thirteen!!) names attached to the track, several were also behind Labyrinth. Now, I’ve got no idea why or how it takes thirteen people to craft a song as straightforward as Apple, but names like FRANTS and Hwang Hyun certainly stuck out to me.
Unfortunately, Apple is no Labyrinth. That’s not to say it’s a bad song, but those hoping for some sort of high energy synthpop banger will have to settle for a much more understated affair. GFriend teased this track as a dramatic reinvention, but I don’t think it’s all that daring. Maybe it’s the title and religious imagery, but Apple actually reminds me a track K-pop provocateur Gain might deliver. It has a sultry, synth-drenched vibe, pulsing on a mid-tempo groove that incorporates a prominent guitar arpeggio and plenty of atmospheric electronic flourishes.
Given 2020 K-pop’s urge to shift styles every three seconds, Apple is a remarkably consistent track. Its various elements lock together flawlessly, though the entire thing hits at the same energy level. Even as the girls offer a gorgeous vamping post-chorus, the instrumental barely changes intensity. This causes Apple to feel more like a straight line than the series of peaks and valleys it might have been with a more daring arrangement. This approach has its pros and cons, but ultimately it prevents the track from soaring in the way that GFriend’s best work does. Still, Apple is a successful maturation of their sound. The girls sound amazing throughout, and even if the melody doesn’t hit as strong as I’d like, it carries a hypnotic elegance that will likely become more addictive as the song ages.
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