Or rather, they hit it completely out of the ballpark with "Me?" It's probably one of the most consistent synchronizations between a K-Pop album's visual, aesthetic concept and technical, musical execution. If you saw the teasers, if you look at the album art it's about YeEun baring herself, physically and emotionally. And if you listen to "Me?" with or without that knowledge, whether or not you understand Korean -- you'll get more or less the same impression from the music.
For a pop releases this is rather bare, but in the sense that there are no distractions. Bare in the sense that every instrument, every element, is relevant. It's bare, not empty. It's also a lot easier to push hooks this way (I touched on this possibility of scarcity on my "Rising Sun" review) because instruments or specific melodies stand out against the relative quiet. This bare quality is also very ingenious for a solo release because it allows the focus to be on YeEun and what she can do as a soloist. At the same time, the wide range of material and the strong conceptual front keeps listeners from getting bored since it's just one voice -- the dynamics that are usually achieved by having a variety of voices are taken care of by the songs themselves.
"Iron Girl" starts the LP with guns blazing -- it's every inch the "strong independent woman" song. It's slightly ethereal at the verses with the echo-like vocal treatment accompanied only by a sharp guitar line perfectly synched in terms of beat to those gorgeous drum rolls. By the time the bridge hits it's the most powerful point of the song, and the graceful yet powerful melody brings out the exact same qualities that YeEun's voice is known for. The chorus is what brings the pop element -- it may not sound catchy especially with this specific raw production style, but it's catchy and it's what you remember by the end of the song. Lim's parts, though I think could be lessened a bit in favor of more melody, give the song an edgy, more forceful kind of power to further contrast and give a third dimension to the melodic contrast between YeEun's smooth vocals and the over-all raw production.
"Ain't Nobody" is probably the most straightforwardly "emotionally raw" track on the album, so it makes sense that this is the lead single. It's also a very well-executed combination of the real instruments on the other songs and more trendy beats -- they contrast each other nicely. The drum line and piano bring an honest, earnest element and the beats turn the chorus into the epic affair that it should be. The melody takes care of the smoothness and in a sense is the constant middle ground between the verses and chorus. "Ain't Nobody" is the battle cry of the EP, and it's a very good one at that.
"Bond" was the song that I personally like the least because the melody isn't as gripping as the other tracks, but nonetheless it continues the EP's parade of outstanding songs. This is the stylish song, and I think at this point it's interesting to point out that the song titles are all spot-on -- they perfectly reflect the sounds of the songs. "Bond" is all about the slick instrumentation -- those running loops, the James Bond trumpets (!), all make for a surprisingly epic sound. And this is juxtaposed against the mischievous melody that teases with all the gliding notes and ever so slight sex appeal. So while it didn't grab me at first, the dimension of the song, which is consistent with the over-all concept of the album, definitely makes for an interesting listen.
Sure there are "beats" on "Wherever Together," it's a dance track after all and you can't do without them. But the synth loops run around with all these pretty, catchy melodies and an actual, structured arrangement with the transitions to and from beats really emphasizing the explosions -- all of that is done with a sense of effortlessness. When the beats drop, they drop in the coolest, chillest way possible. The melody is smooth, it structures the song and YeEun's vocals reinforce the effortless quality of the arrangement -- her high notes are just as smooth as her normal range, and they're nicely rounded. This is music that will make you want to dance (I admit, I burst into dance for a few seconds before I realized how much I was embarrassing myself), because something actually happens on the song, it's not just a few generic computer-generated beats looped for five minutes.
"Nothing Lasts Forever" is a haunting end to the LP, and it definitely ends this spectacular album on a high. Quite literally, it haunts you (not in the scary way though!) and it leaves you stunned in the best way possible -- it put me in a thinking mode, "what did I just hear?" And that's something I hardly ever get from pop but have always wanted. At the same time, on the surface it also sounds haunting in a beautiful way. The simplicity of the song grabs you -- the piano is both sombre and cheerful in its grace, the bass and percussion give weight and intensity, and the vocal treatment brings us back to the motif set by "Iron Girl" with those echoing, gritty vocals. One of the teasers had YeEun in the shower as part of that baring-of-the-self concept, and it extends to the music as well -- the vocal treatment most evident on on "Nothing Lasts Forever" and "Iron Lady" literally sounds like YeEun's singing in the shower. "Me?" ends on a strong front not only in terms of the music, but also in terms of the concept.