Beautifully enriched in sparkling synths and alluring vocals, <loveabout,> is an even more ambitious attempt at nailing the retro sound that is ever so underutilized in the current Korean musical landscape.
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐅𝐫𝐮𝐢𝐭𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐖𝐞𝐞𝐤 - 𝐕𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐦𝐞 𝟐: 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭, 𝐛𝐲 𝐘𝐮𝐤𝐢𝐤𝐚
If I really had to raise criticisms of Soul Lady, it would be that the album is slightly inadequate in terms of consistency. As a whole run-through, there are some amazingly written songs. I Feel Love, Soul Lady, Neon, and Yesterday is perhaps one of the best 4-track runs of all time, but after that? Yeah, there are a couple of quality b-sides (pit-a-pet), but from what I can see, there is an increase in fluffiness (which most would correlate to meaning filler), and a decrease in content. The quality, unfortunately, takes a dip in the second half. After considerations, it’s understandable. A debut musician definitely needs songs that could hit the radio more easily, and sticking to a formula that was ever so successful is the logical choice. “It’s her debut, just give the damn girl a break,” I said to myself, as I crossed my fingers for a more experimental and packed sophomore record. So, you can imagine my disappointment when Yukika left her record label.
After releasing her debut album Soul Lady, a banging single “Love in TV World”, and a feature on a rando’s album, Yukika, and her record label Estimate Entertainment mutually parted ways. Fans (me) were bummed out of a short-lived career, but not for long, as Ubuntu Entertainment, an agency that knew full well of the citypop queen’s potential, snatched her up quickly and announced a future release in the first half of 2021.
The exact moment I reaped hope for 2021 was the first second of my first time listening “Lovemonth”, the pre-release single. The immaculate synths were a huge step up from anything that came from Soul Lady, and although the song structure could’ve used a bit of work, I had optimism. The song promised of something more than Soul Lady, as I imagined a record that would base on the citypop foundation of Soul Lady, yet distant itself from sticking to formulas, and include the newly introduced retro blast from “Lovemonth”. And, well?
Make no mistake, this is not Soul Lady part 2. From what I can see, Soul Lady is more of a traditional approach to citypop, while <loveabout,> is more of a experimental approach. Right from the intro, retro sounds blast onto the scene, indicating their dominance on the record. “Insomnia” starts the fun in a mellow way, with laid-back vocals, atmospheric instrumentals guided by the bassline, it has an amazing hook as well. “Lovemonth” follows up swiftly, and with a loud explosion of synths, the excitement that came from the first listen of Soul Lady was back. Amazing pop song.
“TIME TRAVEL”, “Secret” and “PUNG!” all are major step-ups from any b-sides from Soul Lady, as although fluffiness is still present, it is not the main focus, as the aesthetically pleasing synths and amazing vocals (most notably from Secret) takes all the spotlight, as the songs feel very polished through mixing.
With the advantage of a short tracklist, <timeabout,> is extremely cohesive and conceptual. The whole record takes a step back from the regular citypop and transforms into what I can only call “psychedelic disco-pop”. The production quality here creates an amazingly explorable atmosphere, giving a hallucinating feel to it. Yukika’s vocal performances also sell the whole style pretty well, as she manages to go from low registers to kawaii levels of registers with ease. Now, with a short tracklist, it is inevitable that there is much more left to be desired. While the EP itself is jampacked, I can’t help but think an additional two to three tracks would structure the EP much better.
Still, I am beyond glad that with a new record label, they were able to aim for a new yet not opposite direction, experimenting with powerful synths and extremely plucked basslines, omitting the fluffiness and bringing more of a dynamic feel, with the accompaniment of Yukika. And above all, I’m just really delighted my girl can continue with the retro image she had so much potential with. Citypop and retro styles are no longer mere gimmicks K-Pop groups would pull off as a b-side, as Yukika has proved to the world that there is, indeed, a demand for citypop and retro music. And more so, demand for good music. This EP is spectacular, and I wish Yukika a bright future in the entertainment industry.