Seventh Heaven is probably the most bizarre track I’ve featured yet on the site. Of course, j-pop boy group Bullet Train have had a flair for the eccentric throughout their career, starting with their unique configuration of five “main” dancers performing in front of two “back” vocals. But when they lose the gimmicks and focus on melody, they’re capable of giving us something as brilliant and emotional as Yell, which will likely end 2016 as my favorite j-pop single of the year.
Seventh Heaven attempts to meld the melodic with the madcap, and the first time I heard it I thought it was honestly pretty obnoxious. The first two minutes surge with a gorgeous grandeur, all sky-high, anthemic hooks and dense, dramatic production. But then that briefly collapses, as the song transforms into a dinky, comical-sounding breakdown. It’s not a remotely smooth transition, though I guess that’s the point. Either way, it makes the song almost impossible to fully enjoy on first listen. Luckily, this instrumental freakout is paired with a ridiculously catchy refrain that helps smooth over its more off-putting charms. It’s also followed by the track’s strongest segment — a gargantuan dubstep-influenced post chorus that feels incredibly cinematic.
The weird thing is, the more that I listen to Seventh Heaven, the less its jarring transitions bother me. In fact, I almost find myself looking forward to them — even that flimsy, silly breakdown beat. And I think the reason I can look past that odd instrumental choice (besides my affinity for the group in general), is that the track is filled with moments. Too often, songs drift by on pleasantries without grabbing the listener by the collar and dragging them into the music. Not all of Seventh Heaven‘s choices work, but there’s no denying that they make an impact.