On January 6th, the veteran singer of 15 years, Younha, released her new mini album, ‘Unstable Mindset’, a sort of conceptual sequel to her previous album ‘Stable Mindset’. Known for her powerful vocals, she has been a prominent soloist in Korea and Japan since the mid 2000s, and has had several widely popular tracks, such as her solo ‘Password 486’ (2007) and her collaboration with Epik High in ‘Umbrella’ (2008).

‘Unstable Mindset’ fits right into her discography, as a beautiful display of her soulful vocals accompanied by her signature pop-rock sound. The album is a musical expression of the artist’s search for balance. While the ‘Stable Mindset’ speaks of heartbreak, ‘Unstable Mindset’ explores healing. Album teasers hinted at a concept of mature, sombre optimism, as indicated by the images of greenery and natural growth.

‘Winter Flower’

‘Winter Flower’, the first track, is a rock-ballad — injected with a vein of hip-hop by none other than BTS’RM! The lyrics, too, were a collaborative effort between the twoAs far as sound goes, the build and release of intensity was so epic that I could easily see the song used as an OST for some kind of an action/romance drama. Her high notes were almost like pure outbursts of emotion: they had me shuddering through. The chorus is, like the rest of the composition, very powerful. The heady guitar accompaniment and her vocals (pitching up and then falling) perfectly transcribe the collapse of a relationship in musical form. The transition into the second verse is smooth, a natural lead-in to RM’s rap. He asks a mournful question — why did he meet his lover on a cold winter day? ‘Stay’, he says, ending on a profoundly impactful note. They’re both determined not to give up and ‘Hold On, Hold On’, even though things are breaking apart. A fitting first track, this song leaves you anticipating the rest of the album.

‘Dark Cloud’

‘Dark Cloud’ is the title track, and speaks of the darkness following the end of a relationship. She sings of the struggle of letting go, being unable to leave behind past memories, describing the pain of facing the world by oneself. In this song too, the build up is incredible, flaring out in the form of amazing high notes. She simply exudes emotion — enough to rile up even the most stoic of listeners. That she’s a great vocalist is already unquestionable, but this song makes it even more clear, perfectly exhibiting by her superior breath control and well supported belts. Intense orchestral instrumentation are a good complement to the the the atmosphere: dark clouds, heavy rain. While this is not my favorite track on the album, it’s dynamism and gravitas are indeed title-track-worthy.

‘See You’

Another rock-ballad, ‘See You’ is more on the soothing side than the previous tracks, almost coffee-house-music-like. A piano-based intro is peaceful ambiance, electric guitar and percussion create the perfect amount of tension as a lead-in to the chorus, and her heart rending vocals (particularly in the chrous itself) communicate a beautiful agony to the audience. ‘See You’ talks about missing a former lover bitterly, until being reminded why the relationship ended when faced with the person again.

‘One Day of Twenty’

‘One Day Of Twenty’ is dreamy soft-rock. A romantic, delicate, almost whimsical mood, nicely contrasting the weightiness of the rest of the tracks in the album. The song is about finding peace, and realising that one’s heartbreak doesn’t hurt as it once did. One finally finds solace in oneself. Her soft falsetto was particularly memorable for me, as it waa a nice change of pace from her typically intense rock-influenced vocals.


‘26’ is an energetic rock song, with an almost anime-esque sound. It’s fast-paced, upbeat, with a strong electric-string backing track, bound to refresh and renew anyone who listens. (For this very reason, it’s my personal favourite out of all the songs on this album). Those familiar with her early music may even recognise similarities in this song, especially in the types of rock elements used. The lyrics are a euphonious goodbye — she’s sick of being hung up over her past, and is ready to free herself from it, even if she never completely gets over the hurt. Even her vocals are strong and filled with spunk, perfectly conveying the emotions of the song to the listeners with her soaring high notes — relief and confidence. It’s an optimistic end, the perfect way to conclude this album.

Overall, as far as I’m concerned, this whole album is a masterpiece, and is definitely worth a listen, though personally, I enjoyed the B-sides (‘Winter Flower’, ‘One Day of Twenty’,‘26’) more than the title track itself. A compelling story of pain, doubt, and relief is beautifully communicated through her singing. Her vocal technique, as mentioned above, is superb, and in my opinion, this album cements her status as an industry legend. The instrumentation, heavy on the electric guitar, were vibrant — textbook ideal in the realm of pop-rock. Her passion for music is clear as day in her work, and I look forward to more from her in the future.

Artistic Creativity: 9.25/10
Vocal Quality: 9.75/10
Music: 8.25/10 for the title track, 9.5/10 for B-sides