The era of post-GFriend projects is upon us, with Viviz’s debut next month and Yuju’s solo album today. I’m still in shock that the group is no more, but it will be interesting to hear the music they come up with. If Play (놀이) is any indication, Yuju is set to lean into her skills as a vocalist with material that puts her performance front and center.
Yuju is one of my favorite vocalists in K-pop, responsible for so many highlights within GFriend’s discography. With that said, I couldn’t quite picture her as a soloist. Beyond gentle coffeehouse fare and OST ballads, I don’t really see her going down a traditional K-pop route. Expectedly, Play finds a middle ground between the confines of catchy music show material and the more subdued sound of a “serious” artist.
Yuju gets a writing credit on Play, alongside Chancellor of Duble Sidekick and a few familiar global names. They power the track with atmospheric production and a slinky beat. Yuju sounds fantastic as ever, but Play’s melody isn’t doing much for me. The chorus is repeated as a plucked five-note theme throughout the instrumental, causing the refrain to wear a bit thin as the track goes on. I wish we had some kind of modulation – a key change, or even just a sense of growth within the production itself. But, Play is content to ride its straightforward groove all the way to the end. It casts a beguiling atmosphere and I enjoy how the song weaves in traditional instrumentation. But, the most captivating thing here is Yuju’s voice.