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Live Review: 박혜진 PARK HYE JIN holds nothing back on formidable new EP, 'How Can I'

6 July 2020 | 12:36 pm | Julie Fenwick

박혜진 PARK HYE JIN is opinionated and fierce, not unlike her music, especially in new release 'How Can I', her most unapologetic EP to date.

Considering her impressive history it’s hard to imagine 박혜진 Park Hye Jin's conception as someone who taught themselves Ableton and watched Youtube tutorials. However, the payoff is large considering her music to date. Originating from South Korea, the Seoul-based artist boasts a number of accolades including being hailed as ‘one of the breakout stars of the past year’ by mixmag, as well as playing at various international festivals including Primavera, Dour and Melt. Her crowning achievement, however, is with her new EP, ‘How Can I’. Just like the way 박혜진 PARK HYE JIN comes across in interviews in that she's unapologetic, fiercely opinionated and adamant about her growing influence in the house music arena, her second EP ‘How Can I’ drops with quite the same sentiment. Aggressive and dark, the six-track release moves between trap, house and techno, relying on its repetitive hooks to hone down a big ‘fuck you’ to someone or something.

‘How Can I’, her first solo release with Ninja Tune after her 2018 debut EP ‘If You Want’, sits differently on the tongue than songs from her previous discography. Its lyrics, half-English, half-Korean, are unashamedly confrontational. No better song shows this then fourth-track ‘NO’, a dark, alien-like production teetering between digital synths and a hard jungle beat. It’s as if someone has spat acid over it before calling it a day, with a rigid "Shut the fuck up" repeated over and over at the pinnacle of the song. ‘Can You’, a stand-out and second track off the EP, acts in much the same way. It has a muted drive, one that accentuates the tempered xylophone melody atop. A decisive ‘I love you, And I fucking hate you,’ enters in at the middle of the song and an alluring ‘will you be my baby?’ steers it out. The title track, a strung-out hip-hop style number counteracts the upbeat temperament of the other five songs on the record. She sings in a hoarse drawl, almost pleading as she asks, ‘How can I call you baby?’ 

Left are ‘How come’, a largely instrumental track that increasingly adds layer upon layer until the ambient melody atop drips over the heavy beat in a mess of percussion and electronica. Conversely, ‘Like this’, the EP’s opener, is perhaps the most commercial and pulled-back of the six. Finally ‘Beautiful’, the closer, is blissful and bright, even videogame-like. It has a triumphant quality, like the closing soundtrack of an action adventure movie; conquering and upbeat, serving as a victorious end to a diverse EP.

Though the restrictions of Covid-19 proved to be a hurdle to the EP’s release, Hye Jin’s belief in pushing through kept it on track, saying “who knows if I might die tomorrow, but at least if that happens, I'll die really happy.” Upon release she responded to fans with, ‘Thankyou for waiting, I appreciate you.’ And we’re glad we waited.

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Image by Sirui Ma