34

14

Original Content
Posted by eric_r_wirsing AKP STAFF Friday, February 7, 2020

[Album and MV Review] GFRIEND – '回:LABYRINTH'

AKP STAFF

GFRIEND – 回:LABYRINTH


Track List:


1. Labyrinth

2. Crossroads *Title

3. Here We Are

4. Eclipse

5. Dreamcatcher

6. From Me


GFriend has just dropped their newest EP, '回:Labyrinth.' It has six songs, including the title track 'Crossroads.' This is their first comeback since their old label Source Music was acquired by Big Hit Entertainment last year. '回:Labyrinth' is a concept album, and tells the story of a girl growing into adulthood.

"Labyrinth" starts out with bright keyboards, but gives way to a guitar backing track. Before long, the song gets clear, energetic vocals. By that point, I'm getting some serious Dreamcatcher vibes. And I'm not talking about the B-side here. It's a good song, but is it really GFriend? We return to a more GFriend-like sound on "Crossroads." It's not a 100% return, though. This song is a little lighter and airier than what we're used to. Other than that, it is classic GFriend -- the wistful sound, the desperate vocals... In short, the reasons why we like the band. There's also more electric guitar influence than what I've heard before. This is the part of the album where the girl has to make a choice -- she's come to a crossroads.

"Here We Are" is little more in your face than previous B-sides. The tune is appropriately light and poppy, but the chorus is bright and bold. It's kind of change for this band, but I like it because it puts the vocals front and center. Initially sounding a lot like the title track, we have "Eclipse." Sonically, they have a lot in common. The keyboards remind me of "Rough," at times. Quickly it becomes its own tune and sheds the influences I just told you about. The song is cute with a tinge of longing to it. "Dreamcatcher" begins with a distorted guitar, almost like it's out of tune. The main verses sound singer-songwritery, and the song builds to an inspiring refrain. I like the stripped-back nature of the mains, though. This song is definitely a bop. If I thought the previous track was a bit folk like, "From Me" embraces that sound completely. It's a cross between soft pop and folk. Eunha and Yuju do a fantastic job on the chorus here, and the duo produce an angelic sound that tugs at your heartstrings.

So this is what GFriend sounds like under Big Hit Entertainment. I think in some cases they kept the original charm, but at the same time, upgraded their sound. And change is good every once in a while. Remember 'Fingertip?' These tunes are pretty solid -- I like every one of them. And that's saying something.

MV REVIEW

The music video starts out edgy and doesn't really let up for its nearly 5-minute running time.

Eunha stands on the edge of a building. Trying to catch a butterfly on her finger she falls, becoming part of a cosmic clock. Then she finds herself in bed. It was just a dream. She opens a drawer to reveal a box full of butterflies, focuses on a crystal ball just beyond it, and that's where the song proper begins.

The MV itself it's full of striking images, with many scenes suggesting movement. Everything from a train ride through a tunnel, to a journey down a road at sunset. And that's just the start.

The girls are restless, discontent. They remember happier times when they were together — laughing, enjoying each other's company. Then a fight splits them up. That leads them to where they are now.

The video splits its running time between scenes where the girls are frustrated and memories of better days. Every girl deals with it in their own way. And throughout the video, they keep trying to reconcile, but can't quite get there.

Eventually, the girls realize they are better together than apart. Reunited, they're all smiles and laughter, sparks from their flares trailing behind them as they run.

Ultimately, this MV has tons of dramatic scenes, particularly the bathtub scene where...I won't spoil it for you. But this video is altogether a testament to the power of friendship and the consequences of solitude. And it is awesome.

Score



MV Relevance
...........9
MV Production
..........9
MV Concept
..............9
MV SCORE
: 9.0

Album Production
.....9
Album Concept
.........9
Tracklisting
...............9
ALBUM SCORE
: 9.0



OVERALL................9.0

  1. GFriend (Girlfriend)
  2. LABYRINTH
1 6,792 Share 71% Upvoted

-2

Nightjar (Banned)-267 pts Sunday, February 9, 2020 0
Sunday, February 9, 2020

I am not happy with this album and that is not because of the quality of the songs. My objection is to the production, which makes them sound bad. There are two factors spoiling them and both are common practice the pop field.

When I heard the Crossroads teaser I immediately noticed the autotune which ruins GFriend's vocal sound. Big Hit habitually smother BTS songs in it, but it used to be hard to find in GFriend's recordings. It has its place for special effects but when used for pitch correction it always makes singers sound worse.

The other problem is the old one of excessive loudness. The music has been horribly compressed, squashing the peaks down to make the average level higher, resulting in a soggy, congested and fatiguing presentation that leaves no space for the sounds of instruments and voices to expand, and feels unpleasantly loud and not loud enough at the same time. This is a huge problem in popular music which needs to be brought to people's attention and opposed vigorously. You can hear it in a lot of GFriend's recordings; examples include Rough, where the voices sound strained because they're so badly squeezed, and You Are Not Alone, which sounds like wet cardboard and makes me feel like my hearing is badly damaged. I think there's autotune on Yuju's voice in that one too. Why would they do that?

For an example of how recordings should really sound listen to this 1978 album, Dog and Butterfly, by Heart. MVs usually sound quieter than the CD or download because of YouTube's volume normalization, but this doesn't exceed their limit for average loudness so it plays at the same level as the CD. The general level is far lower so you can turn the volume up much higher and feel the benefit of the uncompressed transients and the power of Ann Wilson's glorious voice. Compared with the heavily compressed recordings that are the norm these days it's as if the music has been taken out of a small box and set free.

Heart: Dog and Butterfly

Share

allkpop in your Inbox

New Message

SEND