Last Updated on
The former Wonder Girls member breaks out of her shell and consolidates herself as a true soloist with her first album 1719. HA:TFELT does not contain herself within the ‘picture-perfect’ supposed life of a celebrity and strives to reveal different, sometimes harsh, aspects of her life. This album tells the story of a great soloist who explores herself musically.
Painting a picture of desolation, “Life Sucks” reflects HA:TFELT’s frustrations with her family, directly referencing her father (‘Daddy sent me a letter’) who had been charged with fraud and embezzlement a few years prior. The music is steady and cohesive yet there is a sense of estrangement between the different sounds, each instrument having a purpose of its own creating alienation within the song – perhaps mirroring her relationship with her father.
Sung mainly in the lower register, this song doesn’t display HA:TFELT’s full vocal ability but showcases her lower range wonderfully. A particularly interesting aspect is when her voice moves to a higher pitch during the pre-chorus when she directly addresses her father:
“Oh dear, sweetheart
Things have gone a little south
My girl, need your help
Could you bail me out”
The change in pitch seems to symbolize some sort of hope. Hope from being sent a letter “For the first time in my 29 years” but eventually changes into a lower pitch as she realizes her father’s real motive and falls into despair once again.
“Life Sucks” is a letter to her father as well as a retaliation against the worshipped idol life the public looks up to. Although there could have been more musical change-ups, the song is a perfect wake-up call for the deluded who believe that the soloist is leading a ‘perfect life’.
Calm and constant, “Piercing” is a simple love song. Stagnant, with no particular drive, the song is devoid of any interesting elements. However, one can get lost within the steady drums and layered vocals harmonizing beautifully together. HA:TFELT collabs with THAMA to create a soft, wistful piece that isn’t particularly memorable but sweet addition to the album nonetheless.
Similar to “Life Sucks”, “I Wander” shines for its lyrics more than its instrumentals. Even though the song is mainly made up of a simple piano melody, paired with HA:TFELT’s voice, it provides reassurance to the listener. The soft clapping almost feels like comforting footsteps following your path and guiding you.
Although the rapping had the ability to overwhelm this song, it integrates smoothly with the vocals as Gaeko adds his own charm to the song. “I Wander” is an old release by HA:TFELT and I believe its magic can only be released by multiple listens. It is repetitive and lacks musicality but the simplicity of the song can be soothing in itself.
“Phluhmm” adds a touch of liveliness to the album with its sanguine instruments and suggestive vocals. The snare drums are the highlight of this song, popping out between the other blended sounds.
This song is also rather stagnant with no musical direction within the song but still sticks with HA:TFELT’s calming theme – songs that would be perfect for a cup of coffee in the morning. However, I wish she will expand beyond this ‘coffee shop’ sound as it can get repetitive. “Pluhmm” feels like an unnecessary addition to the album.
Finally diverting slightly away from the ‘coffee shop’ sound, “Cigar” starts off with the usual blend of soft drums and piano. However, the chorus stands out with its unusual vocal synths and irregular drum beats. Each verse is different from echoing sounds hitting the second verse and HA:TFELTS high vocals dripping like honey during the bridge. “Cigar” is mischievous with hints of playfulness laced throughout the song.
Another chill bop, “Make Love” is the sort of song perfect for studying or sleeping. The song is muffled; the addition of the muted static sound before the vocals adds to the intimate atmosphere of the song. Like previous tracks on the album, the song is like still water in no particular direction. The bridge ascends with HA:TFELT’s usual melodious vocals but fails to impress with the lackluster final chorus. Overall, this song seems like another unnecessary addition.
“Satellite” captivates listeners with its outer-space melodies and sounds. The electronic high-key piano during the chorus orbits the other instruments to create sounds as rich as a starry night sky. Fluttering and free, the song reminds one of a butterfly with its drifting melodies yet cohesive nature. This song comes as a relief on the album after the series of stagnant songs. The autotune during the rapping and echoing vocals add to the space atmosphere as one falls into the cosmos of the song’s unique charms.
Catchy yet calming, the flourishing “Sweet Sensation” is a song made to chill too. Perfect for quarantine cleaning as shown in the MV, the colorful EDM and soft vocals motivate the listener. Opening up with a simple beat and clicking, HA:TFELT is already encouraging the listener to join in which is emphasized by the steady clapping. The reassuring yet simple “Hey everything’s gonna be alright, everything is gonna be just fine” follows into an addictive, rich chorus mainly dominated by EDM.
However, the verses are sometimes stripped too thin and do not match well with the vivid choruses. This is saved by the vocals of HA:TFELT and SOLE but are not enough to cover the gap.
HA:TFELT’s music is often accompanied by soft clicking and, although it is not clearly evident in the retro-sounding “Solitude”, the gentle beat ticks throughout the whole song. The single synth beat that pulses rhythmically mirrors the and title of the song while the wispy instruments give the song a lackadaisical air, painting a picture of one walking through green fields with only the soft breeze for accompaniment. Although the song is short, spanning only 2 minutes and 49 seconds, it makes sure the song does not drag nor stop too abruptly making the listener truly appreciate the song
10. “3 mins”
HA:TFELT really enjoys her soft songs as “3mins” is another tranquil and calming piece by her. With very simple harmonies and mixing, the song is vacant of interesting sounds to please the ear apart from the occasional outburst of a muted cymbal. However, the rap part stands out for the song’s sudden descent into a trap beat paired with CHOIZA’s steady spoken-rap, creating an almost creepy atmosphere. However, with no musical variety, the song grows repetitive with no end nor beginning.
Gentle like the wind, “Bluebird” graces the album with its airy vocals and soft instruments. With delicate synths and trap verses, the chorus launches into motivational-themed music, painting a picture of a bird soaring through the sky and echoing the motif of freedom within the song. “Bluebird” is a refreshing listen and has more musical variety to it. Like most of the album, it stands out for its lyrics more than its sound with HA:TFELT singing of liberation and happiness.
Similar to “Life Sucks”, “Sky Gray” is sung entirely in English as HA:TFELT reverts back to her hopelessness and desperation. Beginning with muffled vocals and a simple melody, the song transitions into crisp clear vocals with rhythmic, yet muted, drums during the chorus – the constant beats reminding one of rain pouring steadily. HA:TFELT sings “birds are gone without goodbyes” perhaps referencing the previous song “Bluebird” and highlighting the stark contrast between them: one with a free attitude, the other filled with gloom.
“Sky Gray” is the perfect length, not too long but not too short. Painting a picture of raindrops falling against a window, it is a song to listen to on a gloomy night.
13.“How to Love”
Ending with the classics K-Pop ballad, “How to Leave” does not leave much to the imagination. Spurred by a very simple guitar melody and the occasional clicking, the song is lacking variety. However, it is somewhat saved by HA:TFELT’s playful vocals. The speak-singing during the end of the song is the only additional layer to the song but is interesting nonetheless. Despite its overly simple sound, there is an undeniable addictiveness to the song placing “How to Love” slightly above the other simplistic songs in this album.
HA:TFELT was able to give the listeners some delightful treats with 1719 with hidden gems such as “Life Sucks” or “Satellite”. However, the overall album is lackluster, mainly made up of soft songs with little variation. Although filled with potential, this album has failed to impress me.