uju is an indie-electronic artist who’s become best known, probably, for her dazzling and addictive city pop tracks. With her sleek but vintage edge and unique vocals, she’s ended up on several playlists and seen considerable success since her 2017 debut. She’s been on my radar for a bit, but her 2021 EP Preview is the first piece of her work I’ve reviewed.
The opener, “Mindset,” is very much an uju song. With its piano opening and jazzy atmosphere, it fits right into her discography and makes for an easy-listening experience. She lets her vocals take center stage in a modern lounge instrumental with R&B elements. It has a lively, perky quality that makes it a great introduction to the EP as a whole. It also does a great job of immediately establishing the vintage vibe she’s going for. I found it nearly impossible not to bop my head along with the chorus,
“We are so special, so special…”
Next up, “Mademoiselle” is the title track. Her live video gives off the same vintage edge as many of her instrumental elements, given a fresh twist with the city pop stylings interspersed. It’s deceptively simple and catchy, leaning more into pop without losing uju’s familiar jazziness. In the live video, you also get a sense of how effortless her singing is, which suits her typical lounge style. uju’s particular brand of city pop is a little understated but glamorous, putting a twist on this rapidly returning genre.
“Did you think I’d be happy?” is moody but groovy with some reverb added. It leans on bass and guitar riffs but still utilizes synth elements to give it more depth. She uses more of her head voice and maybe even some falsetto on this one, a departure from her huskier, deeper tones typically heard in her discography. It still retains her lounge-R&B style but gives viewers a more somber sound than the previous two poppy tracks.
Then, “I don’t want to imagine it.” takes us further into that somber mood. Guitar-driven indie rock elements with more raw vocals really bring out the moodiness uju has to offer. It draws from the late-90s and early-2000s sounds caught between pop and angsty alternative rock, with a catchy chorus but generally moody atmosphere. This track is the longest on the EP but doesn’t feel long at all as it continually introduces new elements, like the saxophone that breaks unexpectedly onto the scene after the first chorus.
The final track, “Give up,” brings us to the opposite end of the spectrum from the title track, an indie ballad with haunting vocals – especially the mournful choir that accompanies the chorus with ad-libs. The reverb and filtered audio give the song a lonely atmosphere, fitting the rather depressing title.
Overall, this EP is a good expansion of uju’s previous works, maintaining a lot of the stylings that have made her popular and integrating some new elements along the way. The old-school vibes in the album artwork are present throughout each track and provide something for every season and mood. By all means, it’s a good introduction to those who aren’t familiar with her work and a pleasant contribution to her discography for pre-existing fans.
Instagram | YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube Music