While I predominantly cover singles on here, I’ve always been an avid consumer of albums. More often than not, this results in some songs that I adore but others that I detest. As a remedy to this issue, we have Beast Sides! These songs put the Beast in B-side and are either stronger than their accompanying title track or songs that are just too solid to leave out.
Golden Child’s latest mini album, ‘YES’ is an absolute blast from start to finish. Title track Burn It has only gotten better and better with every listen and bouncy dance tracks like Cool Cool are the definition of fantastic album tracks. And as such, I thought it would be very difficult to pick a single song to feature as a ‘Beast Side’, at one point even considering a full album review. But all those doubts were immediately vanquished once I heard album closer Breathe for the first time. This is an absolute stunner of a song and easily the strongest I’ve heard in a long time.
Woolim Entertainment have a history of ending their albums with big, bombastic dance tracks and Breathe is exactly that and then some. Burn It is brilliant but if I were given a choice, this would have been the lead single. There’s just something about Breathe that just instantly hits me. From the anthemic, bright soundscape to the rousing centerpiece, every moment of Breathe is firing at a 10. It’s been a long time since a Korean song has had such an instant effect on me but Breathe has finally done it. The last time I felt such a head rush, such a feeling of instant gratification was probably either TXT’s Run Away or Stray Kids Miroh back in 2019. And while 2020 had some truly great songs, none were as instantly magical as Breathe. And much of that I attribute to the tracks majestic chorus, which opens the track with absolute majesty.
It manages to sound explosive and buoyant without feeling tacky or cheesy, a feat not easily achieved by many. Golden Child are masters at this, imbuing every single second of the track with so much personality that even Breathe’s more standard moments feel just as exciting. The boys have one of the industrys most instantly recognisable vocal blends and its potency is on full display during the chorus, which switches vocalists during each of its repetitions. Y leads the first and third choruses, Joochan leads the second and Daeyeol leads the tracks climactic centerpiece. This sense of vocal variation helps keep Breathe interesting and prevent it from getting repetitive despite the chorus’ many repetitions. And while the many repetitions might have still been something that I would have had qualms with, I actually adore the fact that Breathe‘s chorus is repeated so many times. The melody here absolutely soars and the producers know this, making sure to repeat that one in a million melody as much as possible.
But as much as I adore the melody and Golden Child’s performance, it would be an absolute crime to not discuss the pitch perfect production behind Breathe. This is a track that’s polished to perfection, making perfect use of almost all of its instrumental elements alongside empty space to make sure that every single element hits incredibly hard. I love just how funky the entire arrangement is, bounding along on a deliriously enjoyable instrumental that remains streamlined yet constantly interesting. It feels complementary to the performance and melody, stretching itself in unexpected yet immensely satisfying directions that work perfectly. The aggressive rap driven bridge is one of those. Where many modern tracks would have gone for lurching EDM or trap driven breakdowns, Breathe goes full on funk, complimenting Jangjun and Tag’s excellent rap with an equally exciting instrumental.
I rarely if ever give tracks a perfect score a few weeks on from release but a song like Breathe absolutely deserves it. This is easily one of my favourite K-pop songs in recent memory and might just be my favourite Golden Child song yet. I would love to see this promoted as a follow up.
Final Rating: 10 / 10