Bullet Train (Choutokkyuu) have never been the most subtle of groups. I mean, just look at that song title. If it wasn’t already demanding enough, they just had to go and capitalize DANCE. But as k-pop continues to strive for the cooler and sleeker and trendier, it can be refreshing to listen to a group that exists in constant capital letters. Chou Never Give Up DANCE (超ネバギバDANCE) will never be cool, sleek, or trendy — so thank god it’s fun as hell.
After giving us the absolute bonkers Seventh Heaven and much more restrained Yell last year, the guys have hit a comfortable middle ground. In fact, for Dance‘s first minute or so, it’s about as straight-up dance pop as you can get. Though Bullet Train wouldn’t be the same without their crazier moments, vocalists Koichi and Takashi have tremendously affecting tones when they play it straight. I’m glad Dance gives them a few moments to display this.
Following the first verse, the song lurches into a noisy, beat-heavy breakdown before righting itself for its anthemic, shout-along chorus. The transitions aren’t seamless at all, but after a few listens it’s hard to imagine the song without them. Dance‘s chorus has a gigantic, all-hands-on-deck appeal even as its retro instrumental glitches and spurts all over the place. This is the group’s fifth anniversary single, after all, and it feels every bit as celebratory as it should. The song works best alongside its addictive music video. Watching the guys descend on London is a wonderful mixture of bizarre and endearing, just like the group themselves. Dance may not be their best single, but I’m just happy that Bullet Train are still providing the kind of aural jolt that’s unique to them.