Puer Kim’s new EP generated a fair bit of hype, with many excited to see her back after a few years of silence. Her haunting vocals and somewhat mysterious demeanor have drawn people in, and her newest EP exemplifies both of those characteristics. Written and composed by Puer Kim and arranged by Kim Sawol, Bluetube 2020 is both creepy and cool while also delivering some criticism about our current relationship with social media. And even if you don’t want to delve deep into the messaging behind the EP, all the tracks are still uniquely cool and interesting.
If you’ve listened to any of Puer Kim’s works pre-2013, then this EP may feel like a return to that. She herself has admitted on Instagram that she was aiming for an EP similar to 2011’s Mom & Sex which I had a hard time finding access to, but after some digging I can see the similarities. The dark themes and bluntly honest lyrics are truly reminiscent of her early works.
The first track, “Sad Mukbang,” combines an upbeat ukulele-led instrumental, reminiscent of background music commonly used by YouTubers, with somewhat mournful vocals. Puer Kim sounds fragile as she sings, almost as though she’s trying hard to sound happy. Given the title of the song and the EP as a whole, and even some of the vocals sampled in the late part of the song which resemble someone crying, I think it’s fair to say it’s intentional. Strangely, this song seems to be the inspiration behind the contents of the music video if the lyrics are anything to go by, although the song in that video is actually “Unpretty Tattoo” – which I’ll get to later.
Oh lonely night 너무 외로운 밤
떡볶이를 시켰어 I’m having my Tteokbokki
런데 정작 먹는 건 I believe what I’m actually eating is
내 가슴 인 것만 같아 my breast
“Be Unhappy Together” again utilizes what begins as an innocent, playful instrumental that becomes warped and slightly discordant as the song goes on. It’s got a hypnotic quality in part thanks to Puer Kim’s haunting vocals and the multiple layers of audio. It has both electronic and traditional elements, with the chorus becoming heavily layered and busy. The track’s lyrics seem to link it directly to “Sad Mukbang” in that they both seem to deal with eating one’s unhappiness away.
“ASMR Fail” is a more minimal track. The tone is darker, giving it a more somber vibe right off the bat than the previous two songs. Deep synth brings the mood down even further, though Puer Kim’s layered, lighter vocals balance it out while also lending that same discordance as before. As in “Sad Mukbang,” there’s mournful ad-libbing towards the end of the song. It reminds me in places of the semi-discordant and hypnotic electronic stylings of Ele which I personally find really interesting. Out of the EP, it’s this song that features the most lyrics in English.
“Unpretty Tattoo” is the only track with a music video, and the video itself lends well to the somewhat creepy atmosphere of the song if not exactly the lyrics. However, that fact does emphasize how interconnected all the songs on the EP are. As with the other tracks, it starts off ‘normal’ but begins to feel as though something is wrong pretty quickly – and this shift is emphasized in the visuals. Unlike the other songs, this one features more punk rock instrumental elements which get paired with more strong, firm vocals than before. She performed the song flawlessly live on Arirang Radio, so definitely give that video a watch if you like the track!
If you’re interested in unpacking some of the messaging behind the tracks, I highly recommend heading to her Instagram and Facebook. The lyrics are blunt at times and vague at others, leaving room for interpretation. As a whole, the EP is strikingly unique and at times unsettling. In addition, Puer Kim’s vocals are in and of themselves highly impressive. With all of this said, I highly recommend giving this EP a listen and deciphering just what its message means to you.