Hyelyn Joo‘s 2022 single, “Haircut,” showed up on YouTube and I liked the song. But as usual, she fell into the black hole of releases. She returns with her 2024 EP, COOL, to present a mix of pop, indie, and R&B-light styles that will get her a lot of fans.

hyelyn joo cool album cover

“Kiss!” is a fast-tempo pop track. Mixing Korean and English vocals, Hyelyn Joo gets into the meat of her style fast. It’s like she created a track for runners because the BPM is a quick sustained jog. With “Kiss!” as the introduction, I think people may think the song is sparse, but I like the minimalism to favor the melody.

One possible weakness is Hyelyn Joo’s vocal power. She sits in a higher vocal range and melody that helps move the song from verse to verse. This is heard on “Crazy” a lot. The issue is that she moves so quickly and there aren’t places where she can show off. The song is expertly composed and arranged, I want to hear her push a bit more.

“Kiss!” and “Crazy” are the two official singles, but “B-YUM” is the best example of Hyelyn Joo’s music. The paced groove gets your attention. The vocals move in sequence and Hyelyn sounds comfortable. “B-YUM” doesn’t have surface complexity, but the layered instrumentals are dense and impressive.

The first true R&B track is late on the EP. I finally hear a lower vocal tone and a different verse attack on “501.” It’s the shortest song at 1:23 with an abrupt finish. I want to hear Hyelyn Joo explore more in this style. “You Already Knew” is another R&B side mixed with a ballad touch. Like “501,” you hear a comprehensive sample of Hyelyn’s vocals. So you know she has range but doesn’t show it off entirely on COOL.

There’s a lot of digest on COOL. It favors an indie pop mixed with R&B presentation but I would like something that leaned towards a R&B core. Regardless of the direction, the next release will be worth listening to.

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Korean Indie owner and Editor at Large. Constantly looking for new music and working on library parity on Spotify and YouTube Music.