Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD), Cassette
It can be a gamble for any emerging artist to not commit themselves to an easily-identifiable genre. Yet on her first release for a label, How Many Times Have You Driven By, the 18-year-old, self-produced Los Angeles musician hana vu throws caution to the wind, dipping her toes into murky R&B in the vein of King Krule (“Cool”), woozy jangle-pop (“426”), and even writing one of the best post-rock gloom jams this side of Interpol’s Antics (“Shallow”). Threaded through the entire project is vu’s remarkable knack for melody; armed with a dazzlingly confident voice, these songs are all clearly hers, even if they explore radically different musical territory.
Not only is vu assured, but she tackles questions of self-reliance and emotional insularity with a maturity far beyond that of your average high school student. There are nods to dissolving romance; on “Crying on the Subway” (perhaps the first song to be written about L.A. public transit) for instance, she captures the complex push and pull of ending a doomed relationship, incorporating a slinking bassline and skittish drum machines that magnify the poles of her mixed emotions. Later, on the EP’s title track, she delivers a bold statement of her own independence, backed by nothing but a gravelly guitar figure: “I ran the world / I’ve heard it all / Doesn’t get me very far.” Even though hana vu seems like she’d rather stay within the confines of her room, she’s made clear that she’s eager to tackle a world’s worth of sounds and experiences.