Jimin’s debut album, FACE, released March 24, dazzles ARMYs and casual listeners alike with his sensual and androgynous voice and expansive vocal range against the frenzied beats spanning from trap to synth-pop to R&B.
The highly conceptual six-track album (seven if including the CD hidden track) provides a glimpse of Jimin’s psyche during the pandemic, combining a variety of genres and ASMR elements throughout the piece. It details a night out to escape from the loneliness he felt, followed by an introspective look before being set free. According to the Busan lead vocalist’s interview with Rolling Stone:
“I wouldn’t say that I felt something new. But when I look back at myself during the pandemic and the emotions that I felt then, I actually didn’t really realize the feelings I had back then. [I thought] I was fine. I was happy. I was just enjoying things. But looking back, I realized that those weren’t the only feelings [I had].”
Jimin is the fourth BTS member to venture into the solo album realm after the group announced their temporary group hiatus to accommodate for enlistment. This was after the critical success of his labelmates j-hope’s Jack in the Box and RM’s Indigo respectively, with Jin’s “The Astronaut” and Jungkook’s “Dreamers” as singles as well. The group has splintered off to do individual activities, spanning from variety shows, brand deals, and of course, solo albums. Jimin teasing the album for weeks and having a “normal” idol promotional rollout with a fan-call, music show appearances, and interviews with Korean press was a genuine relief to see.
As “Serendipity” and “Promise” highlighted Jimin’s bubblier, in-love persona and “Lie” and “Filter” gave us the range of Jimin’s theatricality and depth, FACE was an abrupt but well-timed departure from these sides of him, sonically bringing listeners into a look into Jimin’s mind. If one could describe FACE, it would be black fairy pixie dust sprinkled across the dark cityscape.
The opening track “Face Off” begins with carnival music before blending into a trap-soul-filled track with Jimin crooning in his lower register, “I guess the blame is on me.” The song bares his soul within the first minute into his state of mind, littered with profanity and his feelings of being lost and betrayed by an unknown someone. This Jimin was angry, growling through the harsh string accompaniments and the trap beats.
The album seamlessly goes into “Interlude: Dive,” giving us a feeling of being disoriented before going into the reality of someone knocking on the door. The 2-minute track has no vocals, but one can hear Jimin’s ragged breaths, his greeting to ARMY at the Yet To Come concert in Busan, his footsteps as he walks into a room, and drinking a glass of water before going into silence. The song was meant to be a reversed version of “Face Off,” continuing the theme of the album.
“Like Crazy,” which is heavily inspired by the film of the same name, seeks a temporary escape from the reality of a painful breakup. The song begins with an original dialogue between two people, voiced by actors Shelby Young and her friend Joe Brogie, exchanging words of fear that the relationship would end. According to Young, the quaint but passionate dialogue was imitated from the original 2011 film, to invoke feelings of longing as the main characters could not be together due to their long-distance relationship.
“I think we could last forever.
I’m afraid that everything will disappear.
Just trust me.”
The city-pop track is filled with escapism, invoking images of longing nostalgia upon the first listen. The accompanying music video shows Jimin at the club amongst a sea of strangers, trying to drink the night away, only to be alone in his home at the end with Brogie’s disembodied voice sighing in defeat, “Alone again…what’s the point?” The step-printing and the infrared scenes provoke the dizziness and the fiery feelings Jimin might have at this point in the album.
“Alone” is a soft but powerful 3-minute pop ballad, providing the thoughts of partying the night away to the morning after, with the alarm going off. Jimin switches between addressing “you” and “I” throughout the song, addressing the depressed side of himself in second person. The song was created after Jimin had spent days being lethargic during the pandemic with someone repeating “lie” several times, a nice callback to his first solo release, “Lie,” from BTS’ Wings album.
“Even if you make pretty good excuses
Even if you close your eyes and try to turn away, oh
You know that you’re already ruined
You can’t go back”
The album reaches its climax at “Set Me Free Pt. 2,” the pre-release triumphant hip-hop track with horns and a rapping Jimin, a pleasant surprise for both fans and casual listeners alike. The song details his desire to be set free, a freedom that he could be vulnerable to the audience and the entire world. After all, Jimin is in his prime. As echoed by one of his idols, Taeyang, in an interview with 1theK, Jimin’s ambition is something to take notes on and be inspired by.
The hidden track, “Letter,” is a love poem to fans according to his interview with member SUGA on his drinking talk show, “Suchwita.” With background vocals from Jungkook, the lead vocalist continues to croon his way into fans’ hearts in the style he’s best known for: a ballad. In the lyrics, Jimin grows vulnerable, opening up to the listener to not leave his side.
Overall, FACE provides a clear snapshot of Jimin’s real feelings during the pandemic, a running theme across BTS’ solo albums. The band’s musical direction has become more introspective over the years with sprinkles of critiques of society, an apt transition after achieving so much success in the past decade.
“FACE” has already garnered so much love in its first week of release with “Set Me Free Pt. 2” debuting on Billboard’s Hot 100 at No. 30, the group’s highest entry for their solo releases (“Left & Right,” Jungkook’s feature with Charlie Puth is at No. 22 respectively). He also appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” to promote the single, and has won 1st place awards on Korean music shows.
Stream “FACE” below!