Jan 16, 2015

Jonghyun Shows His Colors in "Base"

[OFFICIAL] Kim Jong Hyun – Concept Photo For ‘Base’ 2000x2887I suppose there isn't much of a need to do an introduction here, keeping my previous rant in mind, but I do feel the need to express how happy I am about this whenever there's an opportunity. Jonghyun is such a multi-talented artist, and his passion for music is one that not too many idols can compete with, even those who are involved with their group's music. If there's one person in SHINee that I always wanted to go solo, it's him, just because I know how much he wants to do his own thing. Now it's finally here, the mini-album we've all been waiting for. I do find the title a bit funny, especially considering the name of fellow member Taemin's album, and it has sparked some funny ideas about what the rest of the group's solo albums would be called.

Jonghyun's personal style has always been slightly different from what his group's musical identity is, or more like a lot different. In this album, you can hear loud and clear what kind of sound he's going for, but if you are a die-hard blinger like me it shouldn't come as a surprise.

[OFFICIAL] Kim Jong Hyun – Concept Photo For ‘Base’ 1329x2000First up is "Déjà-Boo (Feat. Zion.T)", the pre-release track of the album (that almost managed to score an all-kill upon its release). I did hear some variations of opinions about this, mostly shocked ones from casual fans or non-fans, because it's not exactly the sound a they were expecting. Others have compared it the work of Zion.T himself, saying that the song almost sounds like it could be his. I agree on that, but I think Jonghyun does a great job as well. His voice sounds lovely in the given range of the song, and I really like the laid-back feeling as well as the rapping, surprisingly. The title is kind of bad, though.

Up next is title track "Crazy (Guilty Pleasure) (Feat. Iron)", a song I briefly touched on in my MV review post. Even though I've heard this track multiple times now, I'm still really conflicted as to whether I like it or not. First of all; I think the instrumental is a bit too weak for the vocals, and it also hinders the song from taking off at any point, thus making it a bit monotone. I also am not a huge fan of Jonghyun's falsetto, especially not when used as much as in this song, because I much prefer him singing in his chest voice. However, the lyrics are great and the melody is catchy so it's still one of my favorites on the album. Also, Iron is in it so how can I not love it?

"Hallelujah" is probably my ultimate favorite though, and that for multiple reasons. The choir harmonies are definitely one of them, as that kind of effect sends shivers right down my spine. It also makes the overall vibe of the song more majestic, as if the person he's singing about truly is a descendant from God. The lyrics, written by Jonghyun and Wheesung, are about a girl who's truly an angel and her mere presence is enough to bring out tears of joy. Perhaps it's a bit over-dramatic, but it works for the same reason. Listening to it almost feels like a religious experience in itself, and I simply love Jonghyun's voice when used like this.

[OFFICIAL] Kim Jong Hyun – Concept Photo For ‘Base’ 2800x1510The following song, "Love Belt (Feat. Younha)" is the second collaboration of the album and the only mixed-gender one. I've been a fan of hers for as long as I've known of her, so to have her feature on my bias' first album was a real treat. The song itself is a very smooth R&B track, with soft, almost whisper-like vocals and the most relaxed execution I've heard in a while. The lyrics are quite lovey-dovey, but it's still a bit hard to figure out the actual nature of their relationship. They do say "hold me" a lot though, so it's obvious they're into each other in one way or another. Unfortunately for me, this song remains quite forgettable. It could be that I feel it's slightly too lazy, because I can't seem to get into it fully and wholeheartedly.

"Neon" is one of the songs that's almost completely Jonghyun's own work, and I like that he's putting his own twist on it. However, I'm not a big fan of the twist itself. This song is weird, to say the least. The vocals and instrumental are not in sync at all, and I feel like I'm listening at two songs at once which makes me kind of confused. I don't want to call it messy, but that's sadly the feeling I'm left with. I don't mind it when tracks are strange, in fact there are plenty of those that I like, but might not be the best kind of strange. Although the vocals are gracefully smooth and lovely, I can't see past all the different musical layers in the background. It's still kind of good, but there's definitely that element that brings it down a notch for me.

[OFFICIAL] Kim Jong Hyun – Concept Photo For ‘Base’ 2000x2921The second last track is "MONO-Drama", which I find sounds the most like a song you'd hear on a SHINee album. For that reason, it probably stands out the most compared to the other songs, but I still think it's one of the better ones. Not to say it hasn't got that Jonghyun edge, because it's definitely there, but it's more subtle. Additonally, I'm not kidding when I say I literally heard the other members voices here and there, so this track definitely would have worked as a group effort too. All and all, it's a decent track but it fails to stand out too much.

To finish the album, there's "Beautiful Tonight", another heavily R&B inspired track. Like many of the songs on the mini, it plays up the sexy factor as much as it's possible, and Jonghyun's sensual vocals are definitely a contributing factor too. To be honest, these kind of "baby-making" jams have never really been what I've enjoyed the most, so this one doesn't really do anything for me either. It does have it's charming points, such as the whistling and the amplified bass, but in the end it's really not my cup of tea at all. I can see why other people would like it, though.

To summarize; this mini-album does what it sets out to do. It manages to showcase another side of SHINee member Jonghyun, the one that not everyone's acquainted with. I knew going into this that I probably would not love all of the songs because I knew what kind of sound he would be going for, and that particular sound is not my kind of music. As a fan though, I'm immensely proud of what he has accomplished and I know how happy he must feel to have released this album. Objectively I do acknowledge that this is a good album, and there are songs in there that I like as well, so there's really nothing more I could ask from him.

Highlights: "Crazy (Guilty Pleasure)", "Hallelujah"
Least Favorite: "Love Belt", "Neon"
Total Score: 3,8/5

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