CRAXY scored one of my favorite debuts of last year with their bonkers Aria. The group went all out on a splashy music video and a song that changed structure and style at the drop of a hat. I love when K-pop goes weird and over-the-top while retaining a melody worth coming back for. Unfortunately, Aria marked the first and last time we’d hear from CRAXY in 2020 (and most of 2021). A promised comeback never materialized, and the group has spent the last few days dropping bizarre still-frame teasers that quote historical economists and point toward nebulous comeback dates in 2022.
Never one to take a traditional route, CRAXY have now returned with Gaia (가이아), and a long-form music video that hints at the kind of world-building we once saw from earlier-gen groups like T-ara. I remain invested in the sheer ridiculousness of CRAXY’s career, but when it comes to the actual music Gaia isn’t nearly as strong as Aria.
There are so many ideas colliding within this track. It feels more like a highlight medley for an album than a single song. The only repeated segment is its chorus, which should be strong enough to hold the madness together. But, its shouty structure gets lost within Gaia’s more colorful moments. I’m especially drawn to the cool psy-trance pulse in verse two, and the carnivalesque burst of bubblegum that makes up Gaia’s climax. It’s hard not to be entertained when there’s a new surprise lurking around every corner. But, I wish the producers had given themselves space to develop each of these highlights. Gaia could easily be twice as long and be all the stronger for it.