Strangers by Minji was released in January 2021, but I was introduced to her with her August 2021 single “Hawaiian Boy.” Other listeners might know her collaboration work with 92914, where she provided vocals. Strangers is her own work with all the music composed, recorded, and produced by herself. The result is an EP that sounds less like a “Korean indie rock EP” and more of a release that could have easily come from anywhere in the world.
“Strangers” is a mellow indie rock track that’s mainly instrumental. It highlights her composition and arrangements. The layered guitars mixed with the background bass provide a warm melody. The programmed drums are simple and keep the tempo throughout the song. Minji offers a limited amount of vocals which actually sound like a warm-up for the song. Actual lyrics start around the bridge and showcase her melodic and mellow delivery.
If I heard “Summer” as a standalone single, I would have thought it came from a bedroom indie pop vocalist somewhere else in the world. It’s open of her highlight tracks that expand beyond “Strangers.” Minji offers vocals throughout the song and her instrumentals are expertly composed to support them. Interestingly, Minji blends her vocals within the instrumentals. Guitars might sit at the top of the mix with the bass and drums living on the same wavelength, but her vocals weave up and down with an etheral quality.
One weakness that might appear is that Minji favors a specific tone quality and volume, leading to repetition. Through my listens, I find her style enjoyable and while I recognized the repetition, I think it’s refreshing. She’s able to compose different themes with the same set of instruments across the five songs. The one wish is that she would switch the drums a little more often for variety.
“Scuff” takes a slower tempo to provide something different for the end of the EP. She’s on the border of shoegaze elements within her indie rock composition. At almost four minutes, the song is able to take its time and not drag or become stagnant. This is the track that relies a lot on her vocals to move the song forward against the guitar. “Heather” closes Stranger with a bedroom indie rock track that would be interesting to hear with a full band and a faster tempo. It’s the song that previews the next steps Minji could take.
Minji’s Strangers is an excellent solo EP. Her music perspective has been firmly created and shows that she’s able to create really great songs. Her next step is to bring these ideas to a full band or expand on her own composition and arrangements, but I feel that the next extended release will be something amazing.