Release date: October 16, 2017
- Crazy 4 U
- Heart Stop ft. Seulgi (Red Velvet)
- Rise (이카루스)
- 미로 (Stone Heart)
- Back To You
- Flame of Love (Korean Ver.) (Bonus Track)
Total runtime: 00:31:41
Recommended for: Discerning listeners looking for a less conventional take on K-Pop music, Shawols, fans of Taemin as a soloist
Not recommended for: Those who prefer easy-listening sound bites with catchy refrains
SHINee’s youngest member Taemin has returned home after a stint of Japanese promotions with a second full Korean album, MOVE. The album features nine tracks, including a song featuring Red Velvet’s Seulgi, as well as a Korean version of an originally Japanese track. In MOVE, Taemin rejects a more conventional, accessible route while simultaneously taking sensuality and theatricalism up a few notches.
Track 1 – MOVE
Taemin sets up the album with MOVE, a sensual electronic pop number that is structurally simple, in a similar progression style to his past title tracks. It’s not a song that is going to draw in listeners who aren’t already his fans (or would’ve already liked him based on his previous albums). But MOVE‘s main strength lies in its incredible engagement of aural and visual senses. Rather than attempt to distance himself from his apparent androgyny, Taemin embraces it entirely, in a brilliant echo of Prince’s style. Although they do exist, there aren’t many artists in K-Pop who have dared to push those gender boundaries. I have to admit that I wasn’t initially a fan of the choreography, but after seeing it performed live at Seoul Fashion Week, I have since been converted. Taemin’s hips do not lie. Shakira would be proud.
Track 2 – Love
In an interview with Billboard, Taemin revealed that producer Lee Soo-Man wanted Love to be Taemin’s title track instead of MOVE, and I can see why. Love is far more vocally impressive, and perhaps more accessible. It would’ve shown Taemin’s progress from a main dancer who used to struggle with the few lines given to him, to a far more confident vocalist. Nonetheless, I am more than pleased with Taemin’s own choice to push MOVE as the title track to represent him as a soloist. MOVE has far greater replay value, and coupled with memorable choreography, it truly solidifies Taemin’s solo identity. More importantly, it achieves all this without leaving behind his roots as a dancer.
Track 3 – Crazy 4 U
The song begins quite promisingly, combining modern jazz with instrumentals that are perhaps a little bit too reminiscent of Drip Drop, from his previous album, Press It. But it’s likely that the latter was intentional, especially when one takes account of an oft-repeated line from its lyrics: “it’s a déjà vu” (which could, of course, be a nod to fellow SHINee member Jonghyun, too). It comes across as slightly too heavy-handed in its production, though, with a falsetto note at its climax that seems pushed and out of place. It’s almost tiring to listen to.
Track 4 – Heart Stop ft. Seulgi of Red Velvet
Heart Stop is a duet with Red Velvet’s Seulgi, in a light transition from the more intense Crazy 4 U. Taemin has had other artists featuring on his past solo releases before, but Heart Stop is his very first duet, excluding an OST with Jonghyun. Considering past speculations over her involvement in Drip Drop (it was, in reality, indie singer LiVii), it was about time this duet happened. This took several listens for me to appreciate, but their different vocal tones makes this song, at least, somewhat interesting.
Track 5 – Rise (이카루스)
Rise is my personal clear, definitive favourite from this album. It’s honestly almost insulting to find out that it doesn’t have the most number of plays among the tracks from MOVE on Spotify. The slow, powerful build up of vocals and instrumentals leads us to a glorious, rousing crescendo that more than packs a punch. This is a song that I can very easily envision an epic, magnificent live performance for, involving an obscene amount of mist, a movable stage, and dramatic lighting — so much so that I’m honestly worried that the reality would never be able to meet my expectations. All in all, Rise is one of Taemin’s best songs to date, if not the absolute best.
Track 6 – Thirsty
Thirsty is perhaps a song that would fare much better on its own, rather than a part of the album. A vast majority of songs in MOVE are well-constructed, but tend to blend far too much into one another, resulting in a very slight overall monotonous flow. Still, that’s not to say that Thirsty isn’t a good or entertaining track per se; very thankfully, its dirty lyrics do somewhat break the aural tedium. I would strongly recommend listening to the songs on MOVE individually, in order to fully appreciate each track.
A concert version of Thirsty will be released via SM Station on November 10th.
Track 7 – Stone Heart
Issues with cohesiveness aside, Stone Heart, nonetheless, offers a decent auditory experience, particularly with its experimentation with tempo and rhythm. The awkward transition between the first chorus and the following verse does throw me off slightly, though. It’s not a song I would write home about, either.
Track 8 – Back To You
Back To You is MOVE‘s very own obligatory stripped down, slow song. Simple in its choice of instruments, as well as melodic and lyrical structure, it’s quite a welcome change of pace. Taemin’s vocals are suitably light and soft in this one, making it a rather pleasant listen. However, my main problem with it is that it isn’t a song that I would actively single out and listen to on its own.
Track 9 – Flame of Love
Taemin caps off the album with a dramatic flourish through a Korean version of an originally Japanese track, Flame of Love — and it’s as gorgeous in Korean as it was in Japanese. The strings are a clear highlight, wonderfully melded into Taemin’s delicate, yet soaring voice. It’s one of those songs that wouldn’t be out of place in an official soundtrack for a masterfully directed film in the slightest. Alongside Rise, this is clearly one of Taemin’s greatest songs in his entire body of work.