With their return last year, CNBLUE joined the distinguished list of ‘post-enlistment’ idols. Not many K-pop groups last this long, and Korea’s military conscription laws create a natural fork in the road for any male act’s career. At this point, CNBLUE may wish to tweak their sound in search of continued chart relevancy, or simply cater to an existing fan base by honing the style they do best. Enlistment or not, this dilemma presents itself in every music market. How many bands have we seen fall out of favor due to predictable, uninspired material? I’m sure it’s challenging to navigate this stage of a career.
With Love Cut (싹둑), CNBLUE have decided to play it safe. Yes, the fun “old West” motif feels a bit different for them, but the song is mostly a straightforward, radio-friendly rocker. In other words, it sounds like exactly what you’d expect from CNBLUE. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. From a fan’s perspective, I always want my favorite groups to play to their strengths (ahem.. Golcha..) and explore the musical color I fell in love with in the first place. But, this approach risks alienating more casual fans. And as a casual fan of CNBLUE’s music, I find Love Cut rather forgettable.
From a songwriting and performance perspective, the track is super solid. You don’t get where CNBLUE are now without that foundation. But placed alongside their best material, Love Cut lacks the necessary spark to stand out. Even so, the chorus is a great earworm, supported by brassy flourishes that lend the track texture and atmosphere. Nothing here is fussy or overly fancy, and that sense of continuity is kind of satisfying. However, “kind of satisfying” isn’t the description that lands songs on my personal playlist, so the perfectly pleasant Love Cut is earning a distinctly average rating.