Album Reviews
Posted by eric_r_wirsing Friday, August 1, 2014

[Album Review] Yenny/HA:TFELT - 'Me?'



For those of you who are Wonderfuls, it should be obvious who Yenny is. Still part of the Wonder Girls, she recently changed her nom de guerre to HA:TFELT, a portmanteau of "heartfelt" and "hot," and released her new solo album.

The album starts off with "Iron Girl," featuring her fellow Wonder Girl, Lim. In the beginning Yenny's voice is masked, and the first full voice we hear is Lim's backed by an acoustic guitar.  This fusion of folk and rap, paradoxically, works quite well.

"Truth" is where this album starts really deviating from what I expect from K-Pop. It's a mournful track buried in artsy backing retro synth, and it gives the impression of walking in a fog. It's a ballad that owes a lot more to darkwave than the standard K-Pop ballad, and that is a very good thing.

"Ain't Nobody" starts with subtle understated verses and later leads to a belted out chorus. The clashing drums and electric guitars rise to meet her voice. The sentiment is similar to "Truth," except that this time, we have a piano during the main verses. Despite the cacophony and some of the EDM nods about midway through, it's not a dance track. This doesn't stop it from being a skillful, powerful tune.

"Bond" almost feels like an industrial track with Yenny sort of sneering her way through the song. It has a sassy melody, and the backing instrumental is not entirely music. It feels more experimental than anything, which again is not something I've been exposed to in K-Pop. It works until Beenzino's rap, and that's where it falls apart. The rap feels forced, unnecessary, out of place, and it fairly ruins what had already been set up so well in this song.

"Wherever Together" is interesting because it starts out as an artsy synth track and ends up with more of a dance aesthetic a minute into it. Yenny's vocals mesh nicely with the music, seeming almost as if the music is there to be guided by her voice, rather than her just singing to the tune. It's a dance track with a different feel, soothing and moving simultaneously. I love it.

"Peter Pan" is straightforward indie folk, which is also not what I'd expect from K-Pop. No real surprises here: an acoustic guitar and a honey-voiced Yenny. It's very pretty and relaxing.

"Nothing Lasts Forever" is a nice little track . It starts out with a piano and builds from there. Her voice sounds like she's singing in a small booth, which is likely the case, but it's not something we hear very often, something coming out of a telephone rather than being presented up front like in the other tracks. It almost sounds like a melancholy harmonica is played along with it, and a mid-tempo beat combines with her masterful vocals to make an excellent tune.

It probably helps that I had no expectations when I took this disc for a spin, but it is a very mature effort. I am duly impressed. In a letter to her fans, she writes:

"I wrote and composed all of the songs and arranged it with composer Lee Woo Min in New York. Since it's made in New York, the city where I received the most inspiration, I am very satisfied with the outcome...Because it is an album which showcases my music, rather than using my name as Wonder Girls' Yenny, I thought it would be right to greet you with my pen name, HA:TFELT. As much as it's safe to say that I put the pieces of my heart into each song, they are songs that I treasure and love a lot..It won't have any of the songs that you're all familiar with and knew before!"

And wow. So this album is hers, not some producer's idea of what she should sound like--hers. A mixture of indie folk music, dance beats, and industrial music. Some of the pieces, especially the last one, just give the impression she's sitting next to you on a stool singing. Others owe a lot to darkwave electronica, giving this album a very different feel than other recent releases. This is an album to be played at twilight, between the day and darkness. Far from popping, it instead is very dreamy and soothing, which is also awesome. Queue this up and relax with a cup of tea. You won't be disappointed.

Recommended tracks:: "Iron Girl," "Wherever Together," "Peter Pan."

SEE ALSO: NewJeans' Hanni to exclusively lead global brand campaign

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