Jimin Shows Off His Pop Strengths, And Explores Some Moods, On ‘FACE’
The solo debut from BTS’ Jimin starts off with something unexpected—horns that sound like they’re coming from an energy-depleted carnival band, bleating out a few jaunty notes before completely falling into a heap. It’s not a harbinger of how the six songs that follow will go, but it does indicate that Jimin is willing to have fun with the image he’s cultivated over the decade-plus that he’s been in the global spotlight. And while FACE does at times dwell on the existential what-ifs that plague twentysomething men who have the world’s gaze turned squarely toward them, for the most part it’s a compelling showcase of the silky-voiced singer-dancer’s pop strengths.
“Face-off,” the track introduced by that breaking-down band, delves deeper into the dark side implied by that opening—it’s a high-gloss trap-pop cut that allows Jimin to lash out at people and things that “test” and “kill” him, with a pre-chorus that swirls into synth-pop bliss before crash-landing back into its jagged, visceral anger. “Dive,” the interlude that follows, provides an immediate respite; it’s glassy and dreamlike, interspersing found sounds—cheering crowds, Jimin running (which, he told Rolling Stone, he recorded on his phone)—into its sonic escapism. The swirling ballad “Alone” also adds tension by tweaking its sonics, using vocal effects to underscore its depictions of emotional short-circuiting.
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FACE reaches its focal point on “Like Crazy,” a sumptuous slice of modern Quiet Storm that shows off Jimin’s limber singing style. It appears on FACE twice, first in Korean and later in English; its smooth textures and glittery synths give the track a cooler-than-cool façade. But that’s belied by its bittersweet lyrics, which are bracketed by dialogue snippets that give further context to why the song’s narrator might want to put his “emotions on ice.”
Perhaps the most intriguing track is “Set Me Free, Pt. 2,” a cacophonous blend of synth brass and vocal effects that has an insistent chorus where Jimin’s voice turns into a siren call for self-liberation. Jimin’s processed yelps depict his agitation in a way that implies he wants to break out of any boxes in which he might be placed—and this twisty, yet hooky EP is his first step toward doing so.