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Unstable mindset (Younha)
Unstable Mindset is Younha’s fifth mini-album with a contrasting title to her previous EP Stable Mindset. The tracks on this winter-themed album seem to share the sound of melancholy. If winter blues had a sound, it would be this album. Whether it is the higher and rather filled songs like “Winter Flower” or more low-key ones like “See You,” all of them are gorgeously tinged with desolation.
1. Winter Flower
Due to it featuring RM of BTS, “Winter Flower” received a lot of attention and positive feedback overall.The song gradually builds up a trance-like atmosphere, starting with low-key and heavy piano with bassy percussion joining in later. A blooming pre-chorus sounds which allows an overflowing and hard-hitting chorus to follow. The heavy guitar, buzzing synths, thick bass, gritty percussion, RM’s adlibs and the powerful vocals make up for an impactful chorus which feels like a blasting snowstorm. Younha’s voice wraps around the melody skillfully as it assists in heightening the climax of the song.
The bridge explodes into the culminating last chorus in which Younha’s voice pierces through the soul. “Winter Flower” is a sentimental song which gives a feeling of abandonment. The imagery of running away and abandoning worldly worries comes to mind especially when the chorus hits, giving an odd sense of serenity. It is a seasonal masterpiece and definitely my favorite track from the EP.
2. Dark Cloud
“Dark Cloud”—another powerful ballad—takes on a gentle start with minor key piano that evolves to major key along with the addition of light percussion. The barely audible sound of rain is present at the start.
Like every song on this EP, Younha’s vocals stand out. The chorus is a mesh of synths, guitars and sweet harmonies, and the high note further adds to its fullness. The contrast of whispering vocals along with the intensification in guitars in the second chorus is eargasmic. The bridge gives off a distorting vibe as the same note on piano is played continuously.
The song ends with the sound of rain and thunder as tranquil piano is heard in the background.
3. See You
I would have barely liked this song if it wasn’t for the euphonious vocals. It starts off with Younha’s vocals lightly floating on a somber piano. The sound shifts to a brighter one in the chorus as a few strings and light percussion joins in.
The second half of the song is less empty than the first one with the addition of percussive rhythm in the verses. Younha’s flavorful voice and honeyed harmonies along with the twinkling piano save this song from being bland. Nonetheless, it still feels rather empty and lacking.
4. One Day of Twenty
“One Day of Twenty” has a brighter sound compared to the other tracks from this EP. It is a nostalgic-sounding track which is fitting according to the lyrics. Hovering piano, twinkling sounds and light percussion fuse together as Younha recalls her memories of being in love.
It is sentimentally sweet but not nearly as interesting as the first two tracks. It lacks any special element that might catch one’s attention.
The album comes to an end with another bright song having an uplifting and pop sound. Unlike its two predecessors, “26” is a lush song bursting with energy. Bassy metallic drums, electric guitars and strings are just the perfect combination to finish off this album. The outro is the most exciting part of the song as the guitar intensifies along with the increase in the pace of the percussive rhythm.
It is an upbeat song like this adds to the diversity of the album and saves it from being passively gloomy. It adds a more vibrant color to the monochromatic palette of the EP.
Overall, Unstable Mindset is a memorable album and one of the best of January from the K-pop scene. It proved to be diverse enough in terms of sound while sharing a mutual seasonal theme. The EP has earned Younha more recognition and I look forward to hearing more from her in the future.
Overall Album Rating: 3.5/5