Thursday, September 27th, 2018

GWSN – Puzzle Moon

Going to listen to this while doing this rn.


Ryo Miyauchi: After seeing a bit too many girl groups tack solid midnight house-pop songs in their mini albums as a deep cut, it’s so fulfilling to finally have a k-pop act take on the style as its lead single. At the same time, though, the hesitation by others to bet on such a style as its title track can be understood from “Puzzle Moon.” Effortlessly sleek as that bass line unfolds, it feels too light to properly carry a glowing sentiment in a lyric like “all question marks become exclamation points.” But while it may lack hooks or a drop that deeply sinks its teeth, the overall air of mystique surrounding “Puzzle Moon” works wonders to tease out curiosity.

Crystal Leww: Blackpink were one the more recent k-pop group debuts to have captured Western media’s attention, and their approach stands in stark contrast to what GWSN have done here on “Puzzle Moon. Blackpink put out single after single of stitched together banger, aiming to throw together those 10 second snippets of maximum impact. “Puzzle Moon” gives GWSN a debut that is less flashy than it is just solid. The pop-house production is territory that k-pop covered in 2015, and while it will be very difficult for anyone to top the highs of pretty much that entire f(x) album, this does the trick of giving us something worthy of hitting play again on without hitting a track with every single trick in the book.

Jessica Doyle: Fuzzing up the background of “4 Walls” and moving the excitement from before to after the chorus: eh, still works. Though if they were going to pay SM for an Amber license I wish they’d gone whole hog and bought the lower-voiced rap as well.

Iain Mew: The sound of Twice at their most straightforward, filtered through a large bit of “View.” They’re still enjoyable sounds and the song does OK with them, but it seems weird for a new group to start with a song which de-emphasises the group members themselves this much.

Katie Gill: Well this is cute! The light, breezy, airy feel helps the song out a lot. It’s charming, in a low effort sort of way. I know that it’s not supposed to be a loud, impressive banger in the way of many other k-pop songs, but it still feels like there could be a little MORE brought to the table. This is the sort of song that, because it sounds so samey, you put it on in the background, go to do something else, and wait, it’s finished already?

Tim de Reuse: An unremarkable template, executed upon competently; its saving grace is that it eschews tension and release in favor of one long, high-momentum streak. It’s effective enough that I can forgive the little bits of trop-house sound design that crept in.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: This is precisely the kind of dance-pop that feels designed to stick in my head for the foreseeable future, from the slick, percussion-heavy beat and the hooky synth lines that course over it to the range of vocal textures and deliveries and the lyrics with enough interesting phrasings (the way that they sing “simulation” especially) to draw you in without distracting. The best part about “Puzzle Moon,” though, is that it’s likeable enough to pull all those tricks out of its bag without ever feeling mercenary about it.

Will Rivitz: Honestly, just pitch any song as “‘4 Walls’ meets Mord Fustang” and I’m legally obligated to give it at least a [7]. Add an extra point for the half-time rap breakdown.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Considering how much “View” and “4 Walls” changed the entire k-pop landscape, it’s hard to believe that they were only released three years ago. While not the only factors at play, LDN Noise and SM Entertainment’s creative director Min Hee Jin have had such considerable impact on the K-pop industry at large that it’s hard to imagine what it would look like today without them. This is exceedingly clear on GWSN’s “Puzzle Moon,” a competent bit of house pop that’s accompanied by a music video that confuses mystique for personality. It’s all fine, which is fine, but any excitement this brings to K-pop fans stems from a contentedness with k-pop’s increasingly straightforward production and songwriting goals. But irregardless of this context, “Puzzle Moon” is also unable to cohere its individual parts. The general conceit — comparing a lover to a moon that shines light on them — is intriguing in and of itself, and the “Make it moon, I want a full moon” hook is the sort of commitment to peculiarity that I’d readily eat up. The singing, however, is too gutless to justify any of it; it neither aches with infatuation nor aims to bolster the song and video’s enigmatic impulses, falling squarely on a blankness that shoots down any desire or curiosity that its lyrics suggest. By the time the rap break comes in, there’s no question that this is also unconvincing structurally (especially compared to “4 Walls”). Earlier this year, Maynine co-produced a forgettable single for Killagramz, Kisum, and Don Mills that was crafted in the likeness of many post-Lil Yachty Korean rap songs (the best of which is still “iffy“). They produced this as well, making one wonder, “Is Maynine only capable of making paltry knockoffs?” It turns out that “View” and “4 Walls” will continue to be important reference points for songwriters and music critics alike. Not just because they were Korea’s first major attempts at proper house crossovers, but because they’ve yet to be bested.

Rebecca A. Gowns: Coming at this from a complete outsider perspective: this appears to be a cool new song from a new K-pop group. I like it! The verses hold a lot of tension and slingshot you into the chorus, which is a ton of fun and very catchy. It doesn’t inspire any deeper thoughts than that, but that’s OK, man. Sometimes a good song is just a good song.

Reader average: [3.6] (5 votes)

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One Response to “GWSN – Puzzle Moon”

  1. I didn’t review this: instead, after watching, I replayed the second Professor Layton game (the one where it’s definitely vampires and not a curse).

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