Oh My Girl’s ‘The Fifth Season’ Album Review
Oh My Girl are famed for their signature fairytale sound and aesthetic, which is supported by their extravagant shimmering instrumentals and saccharine, airy, lucid vocals which almost seems as if a real group of fairies descended upon this planet.
In this age of EPs and singles, coming back with a full album after only four years of activity was a bold move for Oh My Girl. The album clocks in at around thirty minutes and feels like a breeze despite being nine songs long; it has short three-minute tracks with the only four-minute track being the title track.
The Fifth Season is a bubblegum pop album at its core, with some tracks diverging from that style and veering in territories previously unexplored by the group.
01. “The Fifth Season (SSFWL)”
The song title stands for “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Love” with “Love” being the fifth season. The track is probably the most dramatic and climactic on the album. It is chaotic and explorative, with the instrumental forming a glorious backdrop to the sky high mixed vocals.
The song begins with high sine wave synths that give way to soft, breathy vocals by Binnie and Yooa, which then segway into a perfectly-placed solemn rap verse by Mimi, cutting the song into listenable pieces and giving room for more variation in vocals. The mixing is well-balanced throughout the track, moreover, throughout the entire album with the vocals in the forefront complementing the high frequency instrumentals.
The chorus is a two-part chorus with the two parts sounding drastically different, and it is not by modulation or key changes; they play around with the mix, percussion, and the rhythm so that the first melodic chorus transitions into the second and literally blossoms with a newfound energy, filling up a previously nonexistent void, that sounds transcendental and ephemeral.
There’s a key change in the bridge that again completely transforms the track, without making it sound like it has diverged too much from the original sound. A highlight of the track would be the strings in the background which are lush and whimsical, making the track sound like it’s an entire drama of its own.
The track is a grower, as it needs multiple listens to get used to all the melodic and momentum changes, but it is a delightful listen overall.
The song features an interesting collection of synths which are very bubblegum and especially visible in the pre-chorus, after which the strings take over. The track is not high on production but not very minimal either. It is a track that features Oh My Girl’s signature fragility, and features it well.
There’s a constant ticking trap percussion at some points. However, the song is very stagnant and hardly changes trajectories, which makes for a very cohesive listen but very blasé at the same time. The chords are archetypal Korean girl group chords with not much variation.
03. “Case No.L5VE”
The song title is another reference to the album title and it is cleverly done, despite the “5” hardly looking like an “O,” though that is beside the point.
The track has a fun piano in it and a pre-chorus with a lot of momentum, but the chorus is a copy-paste 60’s girl group chorus. Mimi’s rap adds a sassy flavour to the otherwise innocent-sounding and typical track.
04. “Tic Toc”
“Tic Toc” is stronger than the earlier two with more variation and flavour, but it still has an archetypal chorus. The track begins with a piano and ends with brass instruments, which is a complete change in instrumental. The pre-chorus is a strong part with the tasteful key change, and visible major-minor mixture.
The standout vocalist in this track is definitely Binnie; she has a slightly more mature voice than the other girls and stronger-sounding belts.
This is a power pop cut off the album that is somewhat reminiscent of pop songstresses like Katy Perry. The constant buzzing synth in the background along with the warping bass is a tasteful combination.
The pre-chorus is serious and segways into a chorus that follows a basic chord progression. The song is very 2000s with the way it manipulates the chords, and the muffled “gravity” vocal line. It ends in bell-like synths that are kind of overused in K-pop music now.
06. “Crime Scene”
Right off the bat, “Crime Scene” is a very major-minor song, with a tonal quality that is dissimilar to the previous tracks. It therefore shifts moods frequently throughout and provides a flavorful and varied soundscape.
The bridge features a synthesized guitar in the background, which is a sassy and impactful addition along with Yooa’s “uh huh”s.
07. “Underwater Love”
This is my favourite song on the album. It perfectly showcases Oh My Girl’s delicate yet royale sound, being the pièce de résistance of the album.
“Underwater Love” almost has a coffee-shop feel to it, relaxing and laid-back, yet heartfelt and emotional at the same time.
The constant recurring high arpeggiating piano is absolutely a work of genius as it just sets the right mood for the song. However, the best part of the song is the pizzicato strings in the background with just the right amount of reverb which make the track sound every bit as delicate as Oh My Girl’s natural sound.
The chorus is smooth and melancholic; it sounds like a lost love, but then the sound change-up makes shifts the mood to more hopeful. The song is twinkling, a star in their discography as it stays true to their vibe yet being a perfectly pristine and new-sounding addition.
The song screams success and confidence just how it should; it adheres to its title well, being à la mode, haute couture, and delightfully sultry, especially the vocals, which you wouldn’t expect from a group with an image as innocent as Oh My Girl.
“Lights, camera, action!” sings Jiho in the chorus, with occasional whispers of “pose pose” in the background, a stellar display of confidence and a further show of the versatility of the girls.
The standout of the track is definitely Yooa, with her additional adlibs; as a main dancer, it is commendable that she is able to hold her own in a song like this.
The song is a synthpop song with heavy bouncy synths that change character from melodic to non-melodic in a matter of seconds. It sounds resolute and strong throughout, with a strong drive for success, which makes you want to dress in fancy clothes and pose before imaginary cameras.
This song is a complete 180-degree shift in sound and features a heavy bass and non-melodic brass instrumentals. It is another blatant display of power and confidence.
Parts of some verses are in major key, which are in great contrast to the mostly minor character of the song. The second chorus features a change up in instrumental as the “Bam-Baram” vocals, and is highly dominated and swallowed by the heavy, bouncy bass.
The song, however, is a bit derivative and sounds like something a western girl group like Fifth Harmony would do.
The album is sweet, diversely textured, and well balanced. It succeeds in offering Oh My Girl’s innocent fairytale appeal while at the same time experimenting with new sounds, showing that the girls are capable of delivering diverse genres.
The sweet dulcet sounds in contrast to the dark brass instruments, give the album a universal appeal—there is something for everyone in this album.