APRIL is back with the breathtaking “Blue Bird”
It’s always a challenge for K-Pop groups to show growth without completely abandoning their original flavor. While most girl groups trade in the traditional sugary-pop concepts for mature concepts, there are a few who are able to carry their identity despite going through some development. A perfect example of this is APRIL—one of today’s most underrated K-Pop girl groups.
“The Blue Bird”
We’ve seen the group’s effort in showing maturity with their recent comebacks. Sans “MAYDAY,” all of the group’s title tracks have been e.one productions that heavily relied on orchestral elements to create more sophisticated and elegant sounds, which successfully helped the group showcase growth with each album they released. The group’s most mature release to date is “The Blue Bird,” and it re-introduces the group’s sound that first struck the public through their 2017 smash “April Story.” However, while it may share similarities with a lot of the group’s previous singles, “The Blue Bird” still is the most well produced and the most polished. It’s the group’s most eventful title track, as one can tell how well thought out the different progressions are; the mixing and mastering of the tracks are done perfectly to a point where every layer of the track is balanced and heard.
Natural for the majority of e.one’s work, the arrangement for “The Blue Bird” features a luscious strings section, shifting chords to induce a thrilling feeling and provide a needed twist to a formula as familiar as the ones found in APRIL and e.one collaborations. For the most part, “The Blue Bird” is their most creative and the most interesting title track musically. Incorporating unusual modulations to the graceful yet funky dance beat, the arrangement is more than enough to satisfy a listener craving for something new. The main highlight of the track, besides the semi-haunting pre-choruses, is the post-chorus interlude, where the arrangement reaches its peak with its string section, leading the rhythm with a series of three-note violin swings.
The music video for “The Blue Bird” is undoubtedly the group’s best by far. It takes the motion-driven editing style NAIVE Productions brought to “April Story” and combines it with the full-grown visual and styling the group underwent in “Take My Hand.” True to its title track, there’s a prominent use of blue in the sets and the girls’ outfits, which work in enhancing the elegance of the whole visual product. The sets used in the production, as well as the choreography shots, were graded perfectly to highlight the members, especially during Naeun and Rachel’s solo shots. Overall, however, Jinsol stands out the most, especially because she’s shown the greatest amount of maturity in both the video and the album photos.
The Blue B-sides
Of the four B-sides that came with The Blue, “BEEP” is the most superior. Crafted by the same producer of the title track, “BEEP” stays mostly electronic in genre. Utilizing modern synthesizers and beeps to drive the rhythm, the track also makes use of a hard-hitting kick-snare combination that’s patterned quite differently from the usual e.one productions. It is very reminiscent of something WJSN would release, but the group totally owns the track, especially during the climax when Jinsol and Chaewon hit the high registers.
A close runner-up to being the best B-side is “Stand By Me,” a track produced and written by ANY MASINGGA and Nam Kisang, who took charge of Girl’s Day’s earlier hits. It starts off slow with quiet piano chords on half-time, but enters total ‘90s mode when the chorus hits. It’s reminiscent of S.E.S and Fin.K.L., but totally works for APRIL as well, as they share the common concepts with the senior acts. Another track, “Angel Song,” also goes the throwback route but doesn’t commit to the full concept. It is, however, still well-constructed, despite sounding simple during the verses. The chord progressions are also reminiscent of old-school K-Pop track “Sweety” by S#arp, which provides a nice recall—especially to fans of earlier Hallyu hits.
The other B-side, “Hide & Seek,” is also a solid addition to the album, but it falls short of being impressive, especially with its predictability. The arrangement is light, sugary dance-pop that makes use of Nakata Yasutaka-like synthesizers, which could have been the track’s saving grace, but it is kept to a minimal use.
Overall, APRIL has once again delivered. While there may have been doubts with the group returning to their older sound after “Take My Hand” didn’t do as well as expected, it’s nice to see that DSP is pushing the group to an identity that fits them like a glove. While the group’s success has been long overdue, APRIL is still nowhere near the level of success they truly deserve, and while “The Blue Bird” is the perfect break-out single for them, one could only hope that it performs better on the charts than its predecessor. A lot of people do, however, believe that APRIL will get to the top someday. Produce hits like “The Blue Bird” with each comeback, and it would be impossible for the group not to blow up.