For a while now, Gfriend have been stuck rehashing past glories with songs that while enjoyable, feel much more underwhelming than they should for a group of their status. Such was the case with early 2020 single Crossroads, which while solid pretty much vanished from memory after a few weeks. It also didn’t help that the group had much stronger promotional material available in their ranks. New single Apple marks an apparent concept shift for the girls and while I don’t know if this is the kind of sound I want from them, it certainly is different.
Considering the sheer amount of talent behind the wheels, Apple was theoretically destined for greatness even before its release. With the likes of Hitman Bang, Pdogg, Frants and the legendary Hwang Hyun to name a few, I was fully expecting Apple to be the greatest thing 2020 has given us thus far. Frants and Hwang Hyun especially have crafted some of my favourite songs of the year so far and boy did their names hype me up for this. Could we finally get a worthy successor to the groups 2015-2017 work? Could we finally get something as incredible as Labyrinth as a promoted title track? And the answer is…… kind of ?
For starters, Apple feels like one of the most ”classic” kpop songs we’ve heard in a while. At its roots it feels very much like something that would fit right in during the mid to early 2010’s whilst still maintaining a modern pop sheen. The sultry verses and sublime bass-line are the tracks strongest assets, building just the right amount of tension and groove needed to feel essential. The girls provide a much more sultry and engaging level of vocal delivery than we’re used to and it’s actually quite refreshing. The production here feels much more tight and powerful than the ephemeral nature of the groups past few singles and this goes a long way in covering the songs short comings.
Speaking of which, the only shortcoming that I feel really holds Apple back from being transcendent is its chorus. Don’t get me wrong, it swells into a wonderfully addictive centrepiece and I adore the progressive synth line that underlies much of it but I just feel like it could have gone harder. I think it lacks the punch of some of their best work and while this could potentially be a blessing in disguise in terms of longevity, it blunts some of the tracks immediate impact. The production also feels oddly compressed to my ears. I don’t know if this was intentional but it does feel quite strange.
In essence, Apple is one of the years stronger comebacks and paints a promising future for Gfriend if they are to continue down this road.
Final Rating: 8.75 / 10