For the last few years, South Korean producer and singer Park Hye Jin has been finessing her blend of mid-tempo, sultry dance music with a stream of addictive singles and EPs. Now based in LA and fresh from collaborations with Blood Orange, Clams Casino and Nosaj Thing, Hye Jin is ready to share her debut studio LP with the world.
Entitled Before I Die, the album bathes your ears in a warm, lush atmosphere that feels like the audio equivalent of drinking a soothing slushie-cocktail on a sweltering summer afternoon. Hye Jin’s strengths are on full display during tracks such as ‘Let’s Sing Let’s Dance’, which opens the record with her trademark balmy synths, tight yet mellow production, and a coolly confident delivery. While slipping from her native tongue to English and from rapping to singing, Hye Jin is also unashamedly honest, particularly on the title track, where she allows her feelings of missing her family after moving to really pour out. ‘I Need You’ and ‘Where Did I Go’ also take a soulful approach to her songwriting, resulting in a wistful, sensual level of intimacy usually reserved for bedroom pop.
Across the 15 tracks there are plenty of earworms that will get your feet moving, but some tracks unfortunately miss the target of being catchy and instead just sound repetitive, revealing a formula that may lower the overall temperature of the record for some. ‘Can I Get Your Number’ is the main offender in this regard, feeling like an overlong intermission at best and never building towards anything. That being said, Before I Die is not a weak effort, and certainly a highlight among the dance and electronic scene this summer. There’s no doubt that a keenly talented and natural songwriter is at the heart of this work, and Park Hye Jin is able to conjure a serene mood that many producers are merely capable of wishing they could evoke.
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