Since the release of 2018’s Time for the moon night, Gfriend’s music has followed a more downbeat and ornate sound. Though not all that different from the material that made them successful in the first place, this has resulted in a number of tracks that lack the instant punch of their older material. Fortunately, this is a sound that I quite like, and although Crossroads doesn’t completely reinvent the wheel, or come close to the groups best work, it’s still incredibly strong in its own right.
Gfriend, along with Oh My Girl and WJSN are the groups that I consider ‘the holy trinity’. They are my three absolute favourite girl groups and each time one of them announces a comeback, my expectations are always astronomically high. Though this usually results in an underwhelming first reaction, it’s kind of my fault for expecting another Rough, Closer or Secret every other release. This is probably why I think that Crossroads is probably one of GFriends weaker offerings. But ‘weaker’ within a stellar discography is pretty relative, and the symphonic strength of Crossroads is hard to ignore.
Wrapped in its lush orchestral arrangement, much of Crossroads plays like classic Gfriend drenching the instrumental in layers of strings and a choir of vocals. Gfriend are a group with incredibly distinct vocals, and this variety is always enough to elevate almost all their work. This is all fine and good, but most of the verses simply don’t do much for me. They just coast by without much happening, and feel more like filler than the vital conjoining tissue they should be. This is a similar problem that I had with both Time for the moon night and Sunrise. Unlike Rough, Navillera or Fingertip the verses don’t feel as strong as they should. I understand the whistful and melancholic atmosphere they are going for, but after so many attempts it kind of just feels abit redundant. They aren’t at all weak, just something that we have all seen before. The pre-chorus however, is a highlight providing an exhilarating climb, as additional layers of percussion are introduced into the fray.
Thankfully the chorus is very strong, allowing Yuju and Eunha to let loose and belt. It’s a soaring refrain that provides Crossroads with the dynamite hook that it sorely needed up until this point. The post chorus refrain is even better providing additional weight to the track. This is especially important as it provides a cathartic resolution to the whole affair, providing an additional layer of hooks, hence making the track much more memorable. This all culminates in a powerful climax, which introduces a healthy dose of electric guitar sending the track off on a high. If past experiences with TFMN and Sunrise are any indication, then I expect Crossroads will grow on my exponentially over time, but for now I’m more enamoured by the album; especially the excellent propulsive synth pop of Labyrinth and the dramatic Here we are. Although the title track itself is still no slouch, and worthy of a listen; the album is a different beast entirely.
Final Rating: 8.25 / 10
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