With the departure of founding member Koichi, Bullet Train’s already unique configuration has become even stranger. The group had previously utilized two vocalists to support their five dancers, but now they’re down to only one. That position is a tall order for the group’s youngest, Takashi, who is now responsible for carrying every note of the group’s songs. He’s up for the task, but with new single A Kind Of Love, you can definitely hear Koichi’s absence.
This is a shame, because Love is the strongest single the group has released in some time. It’s easy to imagine how epic it would have sounded with both voices, but what we get is still pretty damn good. Over the past couple of years, Bullet Train have indulged in their quirky side. Not since 2016’s gorgeous Yell have we heard them deliver something so melodic.
A Kind Of Love pounds forward with anthemic heft, as if the guys are reassuring us that they’ll be absolutely fine after this sudden member shift. Its instrumental is a wonderfully robust thing, bolstering a high tempo, synth-infused beat with electric guitar and swirling background vocals. It utilizes the kind of frenetic energy that fuels much j-pop’s idol side, but never comes across as frivolous or grating. Instead, Takashi supplies a commanding vocal that stands up against the weight of the song’s bombastic melody. There are no weird breakdowns or production effects to be found — just a straightforward, galvanizing pop track with a universal sentiment. If this is what “Bullet Train Version 2.0” is going to sound like, I think we’re definitely on the right track.