“I’m blooming when you look at me,” Soojin sings in fragile wisps on the intro of her debut solo mini-album, ‘AGASSY’. “Hello my sunshine.” The resilience of flowers speak volumes; come rain or shine, they stand tall and retain their vibrancy – and Soojin herself is much the same. After leaving popular girl group (G)I-DLE under a cloud of controversy, the singer has largely spent the last two years away from the spotlight.
‘AGASSY’, her first release since, masquerades as a lovelorn record that employs the poetic metaphors that have always surrounded flora, but look closer and you’ll find that written between its lines is a soft but stern statement of self-empowerment. Not only is it a testament to her strength in returning to what does best – making music and performing, as she sings on the record’s title track (“Love, love, I don’t know that kind of thing / I just dance”) – it is also a captivating love letter to herself.
On ‘Sunflower’, she depicts the giddiness of falling head first in love, comparing the experience of developing deep emotions for someone to a sunflower blooming within her: “The feeling becomes clearer / In short, dazed / You move more and more towards the sky / As the stories pile up / I’m looking forward to tomorrow.” While the song itself is rather pedestrian, its lyrics are remarkably strong. But the highlight here – and throughout the rest of the mini-album, is Soojin’s delivery, with her signature soprano tone.
On the other hand, the energetic, PinkPantheress-esque ‘TyTy’ plays to the strengths of her unique vocal tone. Twinkling synths skip beneath her wispy, layered falsettos as she takes control of the song’s quick flow. ‘TyTy’ is repetitive, catchy and on-trend in all the right places, but it’s on the hazy, dream-like ‘Sunset’ where Soojin truly finds her groove.
The lyricism on ‘Sunset’ is poetic and carefully written, as Soojin gracefully toes the line between clarity and ambiguity of what she really feels. There is a hint of hesitation, but Soojin delivers with a calm confidence. “Day or night / The light becomes clearer / As if mixing together the borderlines,” she sings in an alto register, evoking the intermediacy and transitional experience of watching the sun set beneath the horizon.
The K-pop idol ends the album on a rather melancholic note with the ominously titled ‘bloodredroses’. Her voice, now laced with more emotional weight, speaks to the pain she experiences where there was once love, because one cannot exist without the other. “Dry tears, thorns filled with painful memories / I bloomed among them / It’s fragrant, blood red roses,” laments Soojin.
‘bloodredroses’ comes across so intimate and personal that it feels like we’re taking a forbidden peak into her own diary, and that’s the exact reason why it stands out the most. Soojin bares her heart and soul on this record, acknowledging the trials and tribulations she had to weather, yet finds the space to accept that she has grown because and in spite of them. “I spread like flower petals bigger than these thorns / And embraced the blooming me / Be myself, a flower that will not withеr away.”
On ‘AGASSY’, Soojin embraces the sliver of light at the end of what must have seemed like a dark, endless tunnel. She wears her heart on her sleeve and that’s what gives it so much power. The mini-album – even if it tends to play it safe with run-of-the-mill production – underscores the potential Soojin has always held and puts it on display for the world to see once again.