GFRIEND, one of K-pop’s fastest-rising girl groups, is back with a summer-themed mini-album that shares its name with title track “Sunny Summer.” The album is bright from start to finish, as we often expect of summer comebacks, and it has one goal: to “have a good time,” as the ladies croon on the hook of the title track. I think that this focus on fun may have held GFRIEND back this time around, however. Perhaps the most enchanting thing about previous comeback “Time for the Moon Night,” which proved to be one of the most unexpectedly enduring songs of the year so far (both on the charts and for me personally), was its mixture of upbeat freshness with a certain haunting poignancy. Rather than further exploring that concept, GFRIEND took a step back to deliver a classic summer comeback that pivots on sweetness rather than substance.
After “Time for the Moon Night” gradually but definitively stole my heart, I couldn’t help but compare “Sunny Summer” with its predecessor. Granted, they’re nothing alike, and it wasn’t smart to bring that attitude to the new comeback on my part. Still, “Sunny Summer” falls flat when it stands alone. If I was unsure before about the myriad wandering melodies in “TFTMN,” I’m now disappointed about the opposite: The tune of “Sunny Summer” goes almost nowhere. That’s not to say it’s a failure—GFRIEND rarely, if ever, delivers total flops. “Sunny Summer” does plenty of things right, such as incorporating bright horns seamlessly into the background without turning the track into the retro cliché. Especially effective is the vocal arrangement, which layers the girls’ (excellent as always) vocals to create a rich, creamy texture that contrasts satisfyingly with the stark horns and loud synths. At the end of the day, “Sunny Summer” is easy to jam to, but it’s nowhere near the best GFRIEND’s got.
The same goes for the rest of the album. The only side track that left any impression on me was “Love in the Air,” which incorporates the colorful composition and diversely textured production that worked so well on most of the tracks in the previous mini-album. “Love in the Air,” in fact, would have made the perfect summery-sweet follow-up title track to “Time for the Moon Night,” but I say that too much about side tracks and now that I think about it, “Love in the Air” isn’t as radio-friendly as “Sunny Summer” after all. Either way, it’s gratifying to know that at least one song from GFRIEND’s latest comeback will stay on my playlists for some time.
SUNNY SUMMER: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? Floppish, a lil bit.
Take a look at GFRIEND’s “Sunny Summer” MV below: