[Review] GWSN start off on the right track with polished, calculated “Puzzle Moon”

As Kiwi Pop’s first idol group, GWSN feel as if they’ve materialized out of nowhere. Their name is an acronym for a Korean phrase translating to ‘Girls In The Park,’ but becomes hopelessly difficult to remember when stacked up against the many other four-letter K-pop acronyms (WJSN, SNSD, YDDP, WJMK, etc). Nevertheless, the group has captured attention with an image and sound that is carefully calculated and polished.

In many ways, “Puzzle Moon” feels like it could have slotted nicely into the two-year LOONA debut project. The song skirts past the kind of innocuous dance pop pedaled by many rookies to focus on a stylish, trendy sound that emerges already awash in layers of fan theory. This is how modern K-pop groups are built. It’s not enough to simply debut with a solid song. It must also elicit discussion and backstory.

Luckily, “Puzzle Moon” is fine on its own, even if it’s not terribly original. We’ve heard this bubblegum take on deep house many times before, with 2018 threatening to finally put the nail in the sub-genre’s coffin. “Puzzle Moon”’s dense instrumental brings other elements into play, including bright splashes of synth just when the song needs them most. The girls’ higher-toned performance also helps offset listener fatigue. The register here feels more suited towards cutesy material, but the song is delivered with a sense of breezy cool. This contrast lends “Puzzle Moon” a hint of subversion, even if its construction is fairly generic. I only wish there was a stronger hook at its core. The song recalls f(x)’s excellent 2015 hit 4 Walls, but it’s not nearly as memorable. Still, that’s a high bar to live up to. As debuts go, GWSN have set themselves off on the right track.

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