Hailing from Mystic Story has its advantages. You have agency founder Yoon Jongshin at your disposal, a celebrating songwriter whose work is foundational to popular Korean music. His songs may not be particularly trendy, but his name recognition alone draws attention. Billlie’s project album Track by Yoon puts that name front and center, as single Patbingsu (팥빙수) leaps into the past for a fun retro pastiche.
I’m of two minds about this song. Everything from the first chorus on is very enjoyable, but the first verse gets things off to an underwhelming start. Like Billlie’s last comeback GingaMingaYo, the melodies are just too nursery rhyme for me. And without an upbeat tempo to draw interest, the track sputters right out of the gate. However, we’re soon treated to a brisk, enjoyable chorus. It takes a jarring transition to get there, but Patbingsu quickly rights itself.
From here, the song is a good, retro time. That pesky melody returns for verse two, but the arrangement is much more robust and exciting. More importantly, the chorus looms large over the track. It’s a wisp of a refrain, but in a way that feels nostalgic and summery – like a memory you can’t quite place. Patbingsu takes great advantage of Billlie’s vocals, offering plenty of opportunities for harmony. The final chorus is especially riveting, building on a gorgeous bridge with a buoyant key change. It’s more than enough to forgive Patbingsu’s initial hesitance. The song is built to take you on a journey, and the destination is well worth it.