Yangyang (양양) is a new artist to me, although she released her first three-track EP Surround back in 2019. That EP still holds up, although Beautiful Mess shows a definite maturation of her sound and sleeker production.
The EP opens with “19%,” a laid back bedroom pop track complemented by her mellow vocals. The lyrics are minimal but sweet, and the chorus has been stuck in my head since I first heard it,
“Like a butterfly
Every time I come close to you
Just hanging around I feel so like a
Baby I don’t have much time for waiting.”
The sharp snares and bright synth keep the sound light, a perfect start to an EP which has an overall relaxed atmosphere, perfect for a short summer evening drive or just to help you relax. Yanyang has an effortless and soft tone, reminiscent of OOHYO to me in many respects, although her overall sound tends to differ. The similarities in their vocals truly begin to show, in my opinion, on the second track of the EP, “ALCOHOL.”
This song takes a more R&B approach, darkening the atmosphere with a funky bassline and slightly more bitter lyrics. If the first track was covering a sweet but impatient crush, the second speaks to growing tired of those ‘butterfly’ antics of flitting here and there, never truly hanging around. Although that free-spirited attitude seemed fun at first, the lack of commitment has now left her feeling betrayed. Slight city pop influences creep into this track, and the low-toned synth mirrors the change of heart that the lyrics express:
“날아가려는 맘은 보지 못했어 (I didn’t see the desire to fly)
내 맘에 무겁게 내려앉았다가 (It sank heavily into my heart, go)
알코올처럼 멀리 날아가네 가볍게 가벼워 (It flies as far away as alcohol. It’s light.)
Why the heck would he do like that?”
The third track, “LIKE ME,” brings in glittery synth and more bass and guitar. If the previous track described a breakup, then this track is about trying to pick one’s self up again – and maybe even glow up in the process. In the absence of liking someone else, you have to like yourself, but it isn’t always easy. The song is slower, almost downtrodden, and Yangyang (양양) speaks more than sings her lines, tone soft and almost tired, as though she’s under pressure. The repetitive lyrics make the song pass by quickly, even though it’s the longest on the EP.
“I have to do self care
I really like like me (I’m trying to do my best)
I really like like me (And I’m holding my breath)
I really like like me (Holding my breath till I say it)”
The closer, “MORE!,” is a departure from every other track on the EP in many ways. The lyrics are entirely in English, sung over a simple backdrop of synth and pizzicato strings being plucked. It’s contented and hopeful in way none of the other songs are, with Yanyang expressing confidence in herself while simultaneously wanting to know and do more. The chorus slows down and adds reverb to her vocals, which have a tinge of humor to them that I found myself grinning over upon first listen:
“I may not always be right
But I’m never wrong
I’m never wrong.”
Outside of the chorus, Yangyang (양양) plays around more with vocal filters and layers, keeping things interesting as she lists off all the things she’s like to do more often, the ways in which she’d like to express herself.
Although brief, Beautiful Mess is full-bodied and expressive, and while it may leave you wanting more of Yangyang (양양)’s music, it won’t leave you feeling a lack of resolution. Though it doesn’t necessarily tell a clear-cut story, it does represent coming to terms with how to love one’s self, even when acknowledging your own shortcomings, before loving someone else.
Aside from this tale of personal growth, the EP shows musical growth and improvement for Yangyang (양양), who has remained within similar soundscapes since Surround but has polished her delivery. If you’re a fan of lo-fi bedroom pop or R&B, I would highly recommend any of Yangyang (양양)’s discography – but especially this latest release.