GFRIEND is probably one of the top five girl groups of the new generation, if not part of the top three in terms of sales and fanbase. However, the group went through their first hiccup in terms of song reception when they released "Fingertip" earlier this year. While the song did quite well on the charts, it wasn't as successful as their previous efforts, as a lot of people thought that it had strayed too far from the youthful concept the group usually did. I found it quite disappointing, as I think it was their best title track to date, and The Awakening has since become my favorite album from the group.
A Little Throwback
That being said, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see the group going back to something familiar: the bright and dynamic concept most evident in the group’s early tracks, such as “Glass Bead” and “Me Gustas Tu.” I understood management's decision, because that concept truly clicked with the group. However, I was also afraid that they might release a track that sounded just the same as previous ones. When “Love Whisper” was released, I was surprised to hear something quite different.
I was honestly starting to lose interest in the group following their release of “NAVILLERA” last year, which is why I became the hardest “Fingertip” fan when it came out. I was growing tired of the formula their producers were giving them, and a 180-degree turn with “Fingertip” was exactly what the group needed. This time, though, when I started seeing the teasers for “Love Whisper,” I wasn’t liking what I was hearing, so I was surprised that I ended up really liking their comeback track when I heard it in full.
With this being the group’s sixth consecutive title track produced by RBW composers Iggy and Seo Youngbae, I can only imagine the challenge the producers had to go through in finding a new sound for the girls. They nevertheless succeeded, because the song’s selling point was how new it sounded, especially by GFRIEND standards. The producing duo discarded the louder synthesizers they had once incorporated on the group’s previous singles, managing to create something innovative in the track's arrangement by infusing a new-jack swing beat that sounds great with the calm and colorful layers of "Love Whisper." With the addition of that classic-sounding beat, we got something that sounds vintage, but at the same time managed to stay familiar with the use of the orchestral elements like the strings.
Right now, I’m liking it to the point where I’m about to call it my second-favorite GFRIEND title track, but I still have a few minor reservations. The way some melodies were written during the pre-chorus sounds a bit too cheesy for me, and I’m still trying to get past that. The transition leading to the chorus saves it from going downhill, though, so you completely forget about the cheesiness once the main melody hits.
I loved the music video for the track, too. There were a lot of aesthetic moments, but what I loved the most were the choreography shots. It was super cool to see the group dancing in a pond of water, which I want to think is a homage to the viral “Me Gustas Tu” fancam that helped boost their popularity at the time.
PARALLEL is one of the group’s strongest releases overall. It’s a very cohesive album that might actually beat The Awakening with how strong the b-sides are.
"Ave Maria" is one of the album’s three strongest b-sides. It features a mid-tempo kick-snare beat that plays with smashing piano chords, sounding very house-influenced. The production has that standard dance arrangement to it but manages to stay different with the slower tempo. The next b-side, “One Half,” is PARALLEL’s answer to The Awakening’s “Hear The Wind Sing,” which I’ll say is the best GFRIEND b-side ever. Both tracks share a lot of similarities, but what sets them apart is how “One Half” sounds lighter. It isn’t as explosive as “Hear The Wind Sing,” but it is still a great listen.
“Life Is A Party” is another strong addition to the album, with its heavy arrangement that resembles a Sweetune production. It sounds like an 80’s pop song with the thumping tom and snares, which is hard to resist, especially with a chorus as catchy as this track’s. The most unique of the bunch is “Red Umbrella,” which is exactly what you would get if you put bossa nova and disco together. The album closes with the obligatory ballad titled “Falling Asleep Again,” which is a good track to listen to as well.
Mixing the Old with the New
Listening to the whole album and watching the group’s recent performances, I’ll say that the PARALLEL era is one of the group’s best. I went straight to watching their comeback video thinking that it wouldn’t come close to “Fingertip,” but I was proven wrong with how well the group managed to mix the old and the new. They took the bright visuals we all loved from their early days, bringing in an experimental sound and introducing a style that the group can develop in their following comebacks. That being said, we don’t need to wait for the chart numbers to come out to call this comeback a success, because with the chances they took with this era, it already is.
“Love Whisper” Title Score – 9.3/10
PARALLEL Album Score – 9.0/10
Music Video Score – 9.0/10