When min.a first began dropping hints about are you watching at all? I was immediately excited. The 5-song EP was going to feature a combination of English and Korean lyrics and explore a different, more mature side of min.a while maintaining her unique style.

And that holds true — despite shifting into different genres across songs and expressing herself in two languages, are you watching at all? still sounds unmistakably min.a. Present are her usual emotionally raw lyrics and complexly layered soundscapes, now through the lenses of different genres than her signature glittery synth-pop.

min.a are you watching at all? album cover

The opening track, “wish you well,” starts simple, with min.a accompanied by a melodic guitar, but at the choruses, it becomes louder, grungier, intense with emotion. It’s almost overwhelming, her voice nearly lost under the heavy layers of sound, which suits the desperate, confused tone of the lyrics:

“How do you lie without caring for me?

You’re landing on your feet

Are you watching at all?

Am I alone after all?

Should I be circling back to the start?”

While min.a may wish this person well, she can’t be sure if they feel the same towards her after everything has fallen apart, though she hopes they do. Despite all her unanswered questions and the lingering bitterness, part of healing is forgiving, and it seems that’s wish you well xx is part of that process.

The next two tracks were pre-released as singles to give listeners a taste of what was to come. “skipping stones” dropped in April and was notably her first song to feature Korean lyrics so heavily. It’s moody and driven by a looping guitar riff with R&B elements. Again, min.a wonders if things could be different, but knows that nothing can change the way things are. Even as she’s trying to heal, though, she can’t move past it all just yet, always thinking about the what-ifs.

“우리의 발걸음이 바뀌면 (If we could trade places)

내 마음대로만 할 수 있다면 (If I could write this story the way I want to)

넌 나를 어떻게 느낄까 (Would you understand me differently?)

미친듯이 맴돌아가보면서 (Even if I drive myself crazy)

원래대로 돌아 가겠지 뭐 어쩌겠어 (It’ll all go back to the way it’s supposed to be)

뭐 어쩌겠어 (There’s nothing I can do about it)”

translation provided by min.a on YouTube

you don’t get to say it first” was actually the first single released and felt the most similar to min.a’s previous discography. It’s much more acoustic than min.a usually leans with just her voice accompanied by a guitar,  and its stripped down sounds allows the expressiveness of her voice to shine.

The chorus drips with the pain of a relationship that ended badly. She lets loose her frustrations at going unheard for so long because she was making herself small and holding back for someone else’s sake. This track more than any other, I think, speaks to the overall message of the EP — that min.a is ready to speak up for herself, unwilling to tone herself down for the sake of others anymore. 

“You said so much you didn’t hear anything that I had to say

지겨워서 놓친 손에 맡겨둔 걸 다 포기하고 (I’ve let go of everything I held onto, it’s gotten too heavy)”

translation provided by min.a on YouTube

There’s a quick tonal shift with “sunshower,” a love song that’s sonically more reminiscent of her usual music. Her lyrics are still raw and honest, but exploring a sweeter topic — falling in love with someone and taking them just as they are, and having those feelings reciprocated. It’s complete with a bright guitar riff and dreamy harmonies. The track is simple and has a repetitive earworm of a chorus.

“I’m your cheerleader

Pick you right up from the ground

Under sunshowers

Promise that I’ll stick around

I don’t care what anyone else says

I want you”

As the closer, “petty” brings listeners back into the realm of grungy alt-rock. The lyrics make it feel like a call out post, first of someone else (and their sister, it seems) but also of min.a herself. She laments her seeming inability to get over things she thinks she should be — and wants to be — able to move past after so much time. However, as with many of the songs on the EP, she simply has to have an emotional release over wounds that just won’t heal. The song, and the EP, end on a gentler, introspective note:

“I know, I know, it’s all I ever think about

I know, I know, I should be over it by now

I should be over it by now”

min.a continues to surprise and impress with each release, unveiling new facets of both her personality and abilities as an artist. Her emotionally charged lyrics cut right to the heart of issues of both the intra- and interpersonal variety.

Whether it be love, jealousy, bitterness, doubt — min.a presents listeners with an opportunity to reflect on these feelings in themselves, putting words to complicated emotions. Sometimes, what we need is to be heard, and min.a is putting her feelings out there — ones you might just relate to if you choose to listen.

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aspiring museum professional, avid lover of music