It’s almost ironic that YESEO’s brand new EP is titled Unkind. Released on November 14, the EP is an actual gift, a treasure. The singer-songwriter outdid herself, unveiling four songs and an intro that transcend the boundaries of “ordinary.” Unkind? No, absolutely not—YESEO is being generous.
I discovered YESEO through IMLAY’s EP SHURAI, in which she features on the amazing track “Rule the Fire.” I was aware then that it wasn’t the only time the two had worked on music together, and it is again the case now. IMLAY actually took part in producing Unkind, like he did with some of the singer’s earlier works. However, it’s important to point out that YESEO writes, composes, and arranges all of her songs. Needless to say, YESEO’s artistry takes a very distinct direction through her work, with the production of beautiful renditions and the process seemingly like a journey in itself.
The EP opens with the intro “Golden Hour,” which is really just a taste of what’s to come on the release: a lot of synths mixed together to create an EDM sound like no other, and a high, delicate voice, singing lyrics mostly in English. That’s another interesting thing about YESEO’s music: rather than following the trend in K-Pop where Korean dominates and English is only used sparsely, she tends to write the opposite way. Most of her writing is in English, with only some songs incorporating a little Korean here and there.
The track “Unkind” speaks of the singer’s desire for honesty, rather than unkindness, per se, though, through the lyrics, she seems to mean that we are often only honest when being unkind to each other. But the delivery here isn’t really the focus—rather, we’re entranced by the melody, and when listening to “Unkind” for the first time, chances are you’ll be drawn to the way it sounds rather than whatever YESEO is singing about. The instrumentals are kept to a minimum, but the numerous breakdowns throughout the song give it power, nonetheless, matching with the lyrics. “Unkind” is one of my favorite tracks on the EP, simply because it is so easy to get lost in it, though in a good way.
The theme of unkindness follows through with the title track, “Fake Love.” The title is pretty self-explanatory: the song talks of a love that wasn’t all that honest in the end. It’s one of the mellow songs of the album, though one could argue they all are, to a certain extent, “Fake Love” never once quickens the pace of the beat, nor does it use complex samples to give that impression. Instead, we’re left with something rather peaceful in sound, but still melancholic enough to give it a little edge. You know, that something that makes you go, “yeah, that sucks, man, but I like the way you put it into a song, so I relate to your feelings.” Sort of. The one-minute artfilm that goes with the song is quite beautiful, though way too short, and it doesn’t showcase enough of the song to truly get one hooked on it—so honestly, just listen to the song itself.
“Paint” quickly caught my attention with its intro on the acoustic guitar. Could YESEO really be dabbling with acoustic sounds in this song? Well, not exactly. It turns out that the song is as much of a chill sort of EDM track as the rest of the songs on Unkind, but the guitar does come back later in the verses. The chorus does tend to overshadow the verses, but it really isn’t so bad. The chorus is actually very good, and it adds that same floating impression “Fake Love” did, but without the sad feelings. This song is more intimate, as the lyrics also testify.
SImilar to “Paint,” the last track “Close 2 U” opens on a piano melody, but we’re soon reminded that YESEO’s strength and overall sound, after all, lies in EDM. However, “Close 2 U” stands out with its pop touch to the melody and its more complex composing. The drums in the chorus are catchy, along with the repeated line that goes “Say, oh, oh, oh.” Though Unkind is a great EP to listen to as a whole (on loop, as it is just that easy to listen to), “Close 2 U” might be that one song you’ll find yourself seeking to listen to on its own. It has that special effect.