Text: Priscilla Wu

    Fans did have to wait two years for IU’s latest mini album CHAT-SHIRE, but similar to her third studio album Modern Times, which was a compelling jazzy affair, the seven-track effort is fully written and partially composed by her. And in spite of the giant controversy surrounding CHAT-SHIRE, the album is a charming trip down the quirky wonderland Korea’s little sister has created for us.

    The album leads us on its journey with track ‘Shoes’ – a breezy opener with reference to her earlier single ‘The Red Shoes’ – and the laidback mood continues to the controversial ‘Zeze’. At times flirty yet delicate, the number was inspired by the 1968 novel ‘My Sweet Orange Tree’ and the jazz-pop backdrop blends with IU’s soft delivery, detailing the tree’s affection for the title character.

    ‘Twenty-Three’ succinctly sums up IU’s honest thoughts on growing up. The song is a addictive electric-pop narrative, easing listeners into her confusion of leaving her innocence behind for adulthood. The tempo turns subtle with the stripped-down ballad ‘Shower’ before picking up again with ‘Red Queen’ – a collaboration single with Zion. T. While the latter could have had a stronger presence on the retro-jazz number, his sensual rap paired seamlessly with IU’s vivacious performance.

    The album drifts back to a sentimental mood as we hit ‘Knee’, an emotional ode to a precious treasure from the past. The unpredictable ‘Glasses’ wraps up CHAT-SHIRE – it is difficult to allocate the whimsical single into a specific genre as it hints at experimentation, skipping from the light-hearted beats to a darker tempo before transitioning back again.

    Recommended tracks: ‘Zeze’, ‘Twenty-Three’ and ‘Red Queen’