Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

Yaeji and OHHYUK – Year to Year

Time passes, the sidebar grows…


Claire Biddles: A near-perfect example of the slow-burn avant-garde pop that Yaeji is so good at. It’s a corny metaphor but “Year to Year” reminds me of the most delicate, expertly made pastry — an impossible structure constructed from gossamer layers, where the blank space is as important as the material that contains it.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: I’m a sucker for this kind of thing: tasteful electronic music on the border between pop and dance, artful mixes of different languages, chant-like vocals. You know, songs that feel like they could be extended endlessly while remaining fundamentally, wistfully pleasant. Even if I weren’t, though, it would be hard to miss the charms of “Year to Year.” The groove builds the way a glacier wears down a valley, with OHHYUK and Yaeji’s vocals serving as a guiding path throughout.

Leah Isobel: The opening flute riff is bright and welcoming at first, but when the bass and kick cut in it suddenly feels more like the fluttering anxiety of high expectations; the slight distortion and incidental noise around the low end feels more real. As the song progresses, its murmuring vocals descend into the lower end of the scale, and the flute mostly disappears. It’s replaced by a chiming pentatonic guitar line that doesn’t resolve with the chord progression. But that’s okay. It feels physical and alive, less hyperactive but more grounded than what came before.

Nortey Dowuona: Patting flutes over jabbing bass and pulsing kicks, while snares are batted across the net, and OHHYUK the first player to serve, grinning and hoping for a quick win. But Yaeji knocks back every attempt with eerie synth clouds over the field, chuckling in a pillowy tone, and serving back sharply and sending OHHYUK flying all around with the slithering guitar. You could say this features OHHYUK on a song by Yaeji, since this is her build, her world, and OHHYUK is trying hard, but Yaeji doesn’t try as hard, despite taking up the lion’s share of the serves. She just delivers.

Ian Mathers: Sometimes when I’m especially blown away or baffled by a song on the Jukebox I look up what others here have said before. Back in 2017, TSJ’s own Crystal Leww described Yaeji as “making songs that sound more suitable for the Uber ride comedown than the actual club” and reading that while listening to “Year to Year” for the fifth time in a row was a real “oh, that’s what I’m feeling” kind of moment. It starts out with a bit that sounds like those early, exploratory albums when people were first figuring out that you could make “electronic music,” settles into a hypnotic, melancholy, burbling groove, and just as you might be staring out the window threatening to slip into real sadness, the song suddenly brightens and shifts, without ever losing that reflective quality. “Time flies faster/As we grown older” — you ain’t fucking kidding.

Will Adams: A would-be club banger that instead got wistful about the passage of time and went dreamy, delivering on both counts in equal amounts.

Michael Hong: So much of Yaeji’s mixtape from last year felt like it existed solely in her head: all its elements never cohered into anything that went anywhere. There’s still a headiness to “Year to Year,” but its scattershot ideas feel connected to one another. Yaeji pops up a couple times in OHHYUK’s lines and blends into a harmony before she finally appears confidently in her own. That piercing flute that gives way to the abrasive beat pattern just feels like Yaeji joining us in reality.

Tim de Reuse: As Yaeji and OHHYUK’s vocals mutter along through a hypnotically simple melody the song starts to unfold over them, and then never stops unfolding, each layer bringing surprises even after you think the song’s exhausted all its ideas — from chirping synths into gritty swirling brass synths into a plaintive, glassy plucked chord progression. It’s fitting that a song about the passage of time fits so many memorable moments into so few minutes.

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One Response to “Yaeji and OHHYUK – Year to Year”

  1. nontroversy champ?