Review

Song Review: Yubin – Perfume

With K-pop’s retro trend continuing to chug along, artists like Yubin stand to benefit most. After all, she’s been tackling city pop before it was popular, with songs like 2018’s Lady. And while she briefly explored her hip-hop side with last year’s Yaya, new single Perfume (향수) brings her back to sharp, icy synth textures.

I absolutely love Perfume’s instrumental. Its driving synth beat is fleshed out with waves of electronics, giving the track a brash – at times overpowering – energy. Hidden in the mix are some really interesting sounds, warped into otherworldly flourishes that make the overstuffed production feel almost claustrophobic. The opening synth riff has a spiraling appeal, like fragments of an electro waterfall. Stick your hand inside and it’s downright tactile.

The song itself is ungainly and awkward, which can be charming. But even though I find myself earnestly cheering it on, Perfume never quite gets itself together. “Fume, fume” is an extremely awkward hook, and Yubin’s delivery – perched somewhere between singing and rap – struggles to find its footing. In a way, this actually compliments the off-kilter arrangement, but I think Perfume could have done with a bit more polish. Some of its transitions are messy, and its ‘throw everything at the wall’ approach threatens to undercut the song’s continuity. Yet even with its flaws, I’m happy to see another K-pop single within this style. It’s refreshing to hear producers experiment with a different sound palette than the ones that have characterized most idol releases over the past few years.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

9 thoughts on “Song Review: Yubin – Perfume

  1. The vocal performance on this is… a bit annoying. I love the instrumental too but I think it’s not enough to compensate that flaw. Maybe it will be a grower!

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  2. Not sure if you’ll review it, but this retro gem by Youha (formerly Im Sua, of YG Entertainment’s failed “Future 2NE1” project) was released today. To be honest, I prefer this song over Perfume, even if their sonic palette isn’t quite the same. Ryan S. Jhun participated in the songwriting as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, yes, yes! I’ve had Abittipsy on repeat for the last few hours. Its production is maybe less original but gorgeously done, the melodies are delightful and the high note on the bridge is the cherry on top!

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  3. Honey, we have a hot one!

    That little blippy vocoder chords right before the chorus is a killer. I wish they had highlighted that even more, like riff off it in an extended break. The actual break in the song is 4 bars of let-down, blink and you miss it. I missed it myself the first few times – I had to purposefully go back and find the break just for this comment.

    The second thing I wish they had done better is the lyrics, more specifically the second half of the chorus. Could they really think of nothing better than repeating “Perfume” several more times? Fume Fume Fume The structure has ample room and flexibility for more double entendre’s about perfume. Missed opportunity, or laziness, or both.
    For those reasons, low 8’s for me.

    I do appreciate how she shifted seamlessly into her own rap line. Also, how the backup dancers do the heavy lifting in the choreo which should free Yubin up to sing better with simpler decorative poses. There are no music shows or showcases uploaded yet to confirm this point.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Love what this song is going for, but I don’t think it quite sticks the landing. The vocals and mixing are a bit off, and the song is messy… love the off-kilter energy though!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. First listen was kind of disaster to my ears (although I did love the musical arrangement. It sounded so damn experimental in words I couldn’t explain!).

    Then suddenly second listen makes so much sense to my ears. And I don’t know why…

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  6. I really appreciate this production, but it makes my mind feel stuffed- there are so many different sounds! I love the sparkly synths. Overall it’ s a little too messy to stick for me, but who knows what will happen on repeated listens..

    “Fume fume” made me do the nose exhale. It does not work, especially since she is trying to convey a sultry image.

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