A K-pop act’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
Everglow are proud pirates, but their new album is more diverse than that label might suggest. Though they’ve never (yet) replicated the retro synth of 2020’s La Di Da for a title track, they do return to it for b-sides. Don’t Speak is the latest to adopt the style, and unsurprisingly it’s my instant pick for Buried Treasure.
Right from the start, the song hits us with twinkling synth and soft vocal ad-libs. This turns out to be a bit of a red herring, as Don’t Speak soon bursts into its perky verse. I love the call-and-response nature of this melody. It’s a ton of fun – very nostalgic but not gimmicky. The vocal arrangement reminds me of something f(x) might have tackled, though the throwback nature of the melody is more Warm Hole-era Brown Eyed Girls.
Things slow down for the pre-chorus, setting the stage for an ebullient hook. As bright and exciting as this chorus is, I wish the melody were a little more focused. It moves in so many different directions when simplicity may have delivered a more concentrated pop suckerpunch. But, I can’t complain about the rollicking energy. The production offers so much flair, from icy daggers of synth to a sprinkle of jazzy guitar and keys to punctuate each chorus. Don’t Speak is an abrupt shift from Pirate, but it proves Everglow’s versatility. Even a swaggy rap bridge doesn’t feel totally out of place, bringing a more contemporary burst of attitude right when the song needs it.