After a really impressive debut back in 2012 and a triumphant sophomore year in 2013, Lee Hi is now, somehow, having her first proper comeback in over two years. However, despite the long, long wait, “Breathe,” the first music video to be released for Lee Hi’s album Seoulite, doesn’t so much announce Lee Hi’s comeback with a bang as it does so with slightly misjudged pomp.
Putting aside the video (I won’t spend much time on it except to say that it’s a well shot montage of boring), “Breathe” is a standard ballad that hits all of the genre’s traditional notes without deviating from the well-worn script at all. The soft piano riffs, the swirling maudlin strings and the marching percussion could have been lifted from an television drama and I’m not sure anyone would have noticed a difference. And while Lee Hi slays the number, it’s not like “Breathe” reveals anything about Lee Hi that no one hasn’t seen in her much more arresting comebacks past. The girl is a talent. Her ability to transition between pop, blues, jazz and traditional ballad styles, sometimes within the same song, is precisely why Lee Hi is highly regarded so giving her a cookie-cutter ballad doesn’t really do her talents justice. Listening to Lee Hi sing “Breathe” is like watching Stephen Curry shoot a bunch of corner threes. The consistency and control is breathtaking but you know that both are capable of so much more.
At the risk of looking a gift horse in the mouth, “Breathe” is a fine ballad but it’s a bit disappoint that that’s all it is. On the bright side, “Hold My Hand” (which I won’t have time to review this week) is a total jam.