IMSEMO’s excellent debut EP is a perfect showcase of her staple style, combining bright and uplifting melodies with deep and often pessimistic lyrics. The folk and blues artist uses clever themes to address serious, complex issues in what can be described as nursery rhymes for adults. HELLO is a seamless blend of energetic and bubbly music, cute nature aesthetics, and thoughtful lyrics.
IMSEMO starts the EP with “웃음꽃” (“A smiling flower”). Her voice and singing style are evocative of a simple nursery rhyme but do not sound fake or irritating. On the contrary, hearing her sing about a loved person in this way conjures strong wistful, and nostalgic feelings. The simple production of this track does not pull the focus away from the singing.
The tempo drops slightly for the second song “ 지구멸망이 좋겠다” (“I want the Earth to end”), which is definitely softer than the high-energy opening. With this quite dramatic titular statement, she conveys the relatable experience of absolute procrastination. Playfully, she states that she would rather have the Earth be destroyed than do her chores.
The quirky guitar and extremely energetic way of singing in the next track, “청춘은 무슨” (“What is youth”), make it pretty fun to listen to. The high energy trumpet solo in the middle of it only adds to the happy vibe. IMSEMO declares that being young and maybe a bit messy is okay:
“I also graduated with a music major.
Part-time job all week long
Also in maths school.
So you don’t have to despair
like me like you.”
The bright instrumentals support this message to embrace our youth even if it’s troublesome and not always logical.
In a cheeky and upbeat ballad “선희의 거짓말” (“Seonhee’s lies”), IMSEMO has funky piano chords to accompany her confident vocals. Vague lyrics seem to be very personal and warn the other person not to lie or play games when it comes to love.
The standout track of the EP is definitely the catchy “생각에 대한 생각” (“Thinking about thinking”). The song is cute and uplifting but the lyrics are quite intense. She talks about the racing thoughts in her head which do not let her fall asleep. The hurried tempo and singing perfectly depict these unwanted, stubborn thoughts. It is a great, polished track that easily gets stuck in one’s head.
The two last songs “자전거 산책” (“Bike walk”) and “선글라스” (“Sunglasses”) are a welcomed comedown from the wacky high of previous tracks and they nicely tie the EP together. Both tracks have a slower tempo and showcase some folk influences with the use of whimsical instrumentals.
Again, IMSEMO displays her ability to bring forward specific feelings by painting vivid pictures in her lyrics. “자전거 산책” (“Bike walk”) sleepily describes the sounds of nature and the mysterious stories they tell while “선글라스” (“Sunglasses”) talks about heartbreak by using an image of different coloured sunglasses left behind by each of the artist’s lovers.
IMSEMO created an EP that is sweet and bubbly but touches on deeper issues, thanks to which her music comes off as intriguing, not childish. What makes her stand out from the crowd is her absolute, uncompromising commitment to her vision, which makes for a promising artist. Her specific, unique, and intense style may not be for everyone but I would highly encourage everyone to give her music a try.