The Hidden Shelf - "Cut It Short A Year Ago" (EP Review)

The Hidden Shelf is the solo bedroom pop project of Minji Kong, an Art and Computer Science student at the University of Delaware. Kong has been consistently releasing music as The Hidden Shelf since July 2017, and her latest release, Cut It Short A Year Ago, an EP released on January 26, is her best yet. In the album description, Kong writes "The Hidden Shelf is a solo musical project I am working on. The reason behind the name is because I have yet to share my work so far with most of my close friends. I don't care if they manage to find them at one point, but when they do, I hope for the experience to feel like they've found, at the least, an okay book or an artwork or what have you from a "hidden shelf" in a corner."

Kong's creative secrecy aligns with the EP's understated beauty. Its watery synths, delicate guitars, and careful vocal delivery make you feel like you're uncovering a secret. Standout track "Golden Hours" is the album's most focused, although it begins still slightly tucked behind a veil of secrecy as Kong sings in the first verse "Dearest "insert name," oh how I/Warm up when you look up at me/Sitting by the white curtains we just bought last week." And yet, at the end of the first chorus, a synth line rolls in that feels like what it's like to be with a lover in the golden hours just after sunrise and before sunset. Everything around you can be silent and unmoving while your inner voice rolls along in normal time.

The Hidden Shelf may still be a secret to Minji Kong's closest friends, which adds to the album's charm. How often do people make a cool thing and not tell anyone? It's admirable. Unassuming artistic expression is beautifully pure.