The landscape of independent artists is growing with more people exploring their creativity. New singles, EPs, and albums are releasing more frequently and discovering these new artists can be difficult. It always helps when an artist is willing to reach out and introduce themselves.
haer is one of those artists. Located in Brooklyn, she sent a message asking us to give her EP a listen. HYAER is an interesting EP. Through the collaboration with producer Jae Luna, haer presents her “suburban pop” style well.
While three songs isn’t a lot to go off of, I listened to her previous releases to get a sense of progression. I really liked “Till It’s Over” and since that’s the most recent release before HYAER, I was wondering how it would transition. To open HYAER, “The B Word” does a good job to provide a first introduction.
It’s the most bedroom pop song on the EP but, in my opinion, might be the weakest of the three songs. It spends a lot of time setting up, before about a quarter of the way in the bass sample finally comes forward. Throughout the track, haer’s vocals feel passive and constrained.
It’s like the vocals are trying to slide over the main instrumental, highlight the R&B theme, and create tension. Unfortunately, “The B Word” sounds like a warm-up rather than an EP opener. It’s definitely trying to build up to a crescendo, but there’s a ceiling on the volume or vocal intensity throughout the song. The instrumentals overpower the vocals a bit giving them a backseat feel.
“Sugar,” released as a single before the EP, is the track that shows the best color of haer’s music. It’s kind of an alternative electronic pop track. haer’s vocal style is a low key and creates an atmosphere through her lyrics and vocals. It’s easy to get drawn in through her voice and I think “Sugar” is the track that uses the right balance of the instrumentals and vocals together.
It’s interesting that she really doesn’t use the bridge as a transition moment in the track and goes further into this mellow indie-pop vocal delivery while the instrumentals quickly build around her voice. “Sugar” doesn’t sound complex on the first listen, but there’s actually a lot happening, playing off her voice, and manipulating the ambient space. She does use the same limited introduction to build up to the first verse as “The B Word,” but fits the style of the song a lot better.
To close, HYAER, “Skin” is almost an extension of “Sugar.” The piano intro from the fade-out in “Sugar” is like a breath before starting again. “Skin” uses an even more mellow introduction and keeps minimal instrumentals from the first minute or so. The vocals on “Skin” are like a split between “Sugar” and “The B Word.” The instrumentals are creating a skeleton around her vocals and the slight tone manipulation adds variety. With the track using a simple and straight forward song structure and relying more on haer’s own vocal melody, it requires a lot closer attention to the song overall.
“Skin” comes across like an admission of guilt through melodic spoken word. The weight of each word is heavy while the instrumentals hold in the song’s subject matter. This is the track that could actually have a lot more popularity if the audience goes deeper in the track rather than just the overall melodies.
haer is making big steps with each release. HYAER allowed her to dig inside and create something personal. There are small aspects of the EP that lack a bit – the repetitive song structure, instrumental architecture, and haer’s chosen vocal boundaries, but the emotion and vision of the EP are excellent. The foundation of her style is strong and she definitely can appeal to a lot of listeners. The question will be if she continues honing this style or looks to experiment to expand her library and evolve on her next release.