Taemin, a member of the K-pop boy group, SHINee, has graced millions of fans worldwide with a new solo EP. His previous solo comebacks have never failed to disappoint and the same can be said for his latest one, titled Want. The EP, containing 4 tracks and one outro is somehow completely unique from what Taemin has released before but also incredibly Taemin-esque, showing the growth and development he’s made through his ventures as a solo artist and as part of his group. While most if not all of his solo songs have been works of contemporary R&B, this latest release hits differently, almost as if it’s the culmination of everything he’s learned and developed as an artist since the age of 13 when he debuted in 2008. Taemin has always been the type of artist who plays around with different musical elements in his songs. They all have three things in common: beautiful, emotional lyrics, addictive melodies, and out of this world vocals. However, although Want encompasses these three things, it’s darker and explicit in the adult nature, more so than those of his previous albums.
The album begins with the title track, “Want”, which also has a beautifully shot music video. The lyrics seem to express strong desires for someone that usually aren’t so overt in his lyrics or the lyrics of other K-pop artists in general, almost as if he’s breaking the mould of the industry he used to fit so well into. Taemin seems to embrace his femininity in the title track, the music video and the rest of the album, something many male artists to this day still struggle to do. While it’s a dance track, there’s something almost delicate and seductive about his voice, specifically seen in this song. The video is laden with imagery of the desire he expresses in the lyrics (hence, the album’s title) with images of black snakes all over him, Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man and more as well as stunning choreography and visuals. “Want” is one of those songs that you’ll never get tired of, no matter how long you listen to it for.
In my honest opinion, the title of the next track, “Artistic Groove”, does make me cringe a little but at least it aligns with what the song actually contains. Again, this track is so quintessentially Taemin but there’s something different about it that you can’t quite place, like trying to remember a dream after you’ve woken up. The lyrics also centre on the feeling of desire “like a dream,” and how Taemin is “crazily attracted” to whoever he wrote the song about. There’s something euphoric about the song’s rhythm which I just can’t get enough of no matter how many times I repeat the track, even though the chorus is just Taemin repeating “artistic groove” over heavy bass and some electric beats. The track, “Shadow,” following this, however, turns your entire idea of this album on its head. It’s completely unexpected, but again has ‘Taemin’ written all over it. It’s a fun, powerful track, but that’s all I’m going to say because I want it to be as much of a surprise for you as it was for me because I think it’s probably what Taemin intended.
“Truth,” is a much slower, sadder track. It’s one of those songs, given the right conditions would probably make you bawl your eyes out. Taemin’s vocals are powerful in this one too but in a more desperate, hopeful way. It’s almost as if he’s walking us through the different stages and types of ‘want’ and ‘desire’ on this album. The piano in the background gave me chills and surprisingly, isn’t overpowered by the beat drop in the chorus. If the previous songs centre on ‘eros’ or physical and sexual desire, this one centres on ‘agape,’ the purer form of love and desire. “Never Forever”, which follows this track has the same sombre tone as “Truth” but with a more cheerful guitar riff rather than the heartbreaking notes of the piano preceding the beat drops in the chorus. It’s a more mellow track about someone regretting their actions and him not wanting to walk away from his lover. This also adds to the feeling that this album is a journey through the stages of ‘wanting’ someone’. As said before, there’s a delicateness in Taemin’s voice and the album but these two songs are probably where you can see it most.
If “Truth” had the potential to make you cry, “Monologue,” will not hesitate to break your heart and force the tears straight out of you. The piano in this one is even more exquisite and solemn, especially with the violins playing with it. This song is the stage in wanting someone where you know it’s bad for you but you have to let go. It’s probably the opposite of the title track, “Want,” but that doesn’t make it disappointing.
Taemin seems to have outdone himself with this EP somehow. I didn’t entirely think it was possible, but it is. I’d say that Want is by far one of Taemin’s most ‘grown-up’ and mature works in his discography, I can hardly wait for when he releases an actual full-length album.
Featured Image via SM Entertainment.