Jpop is not nearly as accessible to the western market as kpop has become, so I’m often late to the party when it comes to new releases. Yell has actually been available for a few weeks now, but I’ve recently become interested in boy group Bullet Train and wanted to offer my thoughts on the track.
The group itself has an interesting structure, composed of five “main dancers” and two vocalists. Unlike most pop groups, the dancers take center stage, while the vocalists perform in the background, occasionally joining in with the choreography. It’s an eye-catching gimmick, but wouldn’t necessarily matter if the music wasn’t good. While Bullet Train’s sound can be a bit hit or miss for me, Yell is a definite hit, though I didn’t know it until after a few listens.
Yell doesn’t offer instant gratification pop hooks, but instead opts for what I like to call a “snowball chorus.” The main refrain is incredibly lengthy for a pop song, and includes multiple melodic segments that continue to build, gathering steam as the key raises to a final crescendo. This is the kind of songwriting approach that may at first seem unmemorable, but pays off big time after repeated plays. It’s a melodically rich song, from the swelling verses to that final, triumphant coda that closes the track. The instrumental follows suit, providing a rousing backing that’s perched somewhere between ballad and dance. Taken alongside the beautifully shot, surprisingly moving music video, it’s quite a stunning package.