Today, on the day of Taemin’s military enlistment, it is rather fitting to dive into the artist’s 3rd mini-album, “Advice,” which was released on May 18, 2021.The 27-year-old super-artist delivers a powerful “goodbye for now” that not only pays homage to his talents, but flavors of styles both SHINee and his own.
In the months leading up to the last SHINee member’s enlistment, the idol’s idol Taemin has kept busy not only as a solo artist, but with SHINee. From April 4’s ‘Beyond LIVE – SHINee World’ online concert to his first online solo concert ‘Beyond LIVE – TAEMIN : N.G.D.A’ and many V-Lives with his members and solo, Taemin has shared a lot of memories with Shawols before his musical break to serve his country.
The album’s title track and lead single “Advice” was debuted during his ‘Beyond LIVE – TAEMIN N.G.D.A’ online concert. Featuring his talent for the piano, Taemin plays a rhythmic, broken melody that winds throughout the song, punctuating the hard emotions. Lyrically, it talks about someone who crossed the line in a relationship with undertones of hurt in anger. With a mix of short, aspirated lines and lyrical melodies, Taemin plays with his line delivery and gives us not only great music, but also powerful emotions. This technique is reminiscent of SHINee’s Jonghyun – a fitting ode from talent to talent.
From the edgy, driving music of “Advice,” the album turns to a pulsing R&B tune that grooves on lyrics of light in “Light.” Taemin waxes poetic about a person who fills one with joy and drives away the dark, then sinks hard into a swaying melody that inspires images of dancing at a club with someone special. Working his lower notes with breathy feeling and his climactic notes with full precision, Taemin proves his mastery of his vocal instrument as he weaves tonal color throughout the verses, bridges, and choruses.
“If I could tell you,” featuring label mate and sunbae Taeyeon, is a musical waterfall of rapidly falling notes that tell the story of a person hesitating to confess to the person they cherish. This isn’t the first collaboration for the duo and the comfort with which they sing together highlights the synergistic artistic pairing. What makes this song’s delivery so compelling is how they mirror each other’s musical style, meeting in the middle as they interlace melodies and rhythms together. The flexibility of his singing mirrors the musical flexibility of SHINee, both paying them homage and showcasing his incredible skills.
Like “Light,” “Strings” delivers a sexy, blues-y tune, but this time he utters the nighttime call of a lover. Against a backdrop of steel-string blues guitar hitting a funky, slow-groovin’ pace, Taemin sings a mix of gritty low notes and pure high notes. The melodic exchange between high and low reflects the lyric of enjoying a lazy night in – the perfect dance-pop song for a slow dance with a partner.
Rounding out the album is “SAD KIDS,” a true reflection of how far Taemin has come not only as an artist, but as a person. Lyrically, the song reflects on past mistakes and what should have been. Riding on a smooth bass line supported by an arpeggiated guitar, regret and emotion build with the rise of the melody line. The maturity Taemin has gained cries out through the high refrain and meditates during the verses. It’s a fitting end to an album that means so many things, both to the artist, and to his fans.
As Taemin heads off to fulfill his 18-month duty, he leaves us with “Advice,” a capsule of who he is as an artist – mature, finessed, and full of passion. It doesn’t feel like a goodbye, but like an “I’ll be back soon” because of the raw emotion laced into each vocal nuance. Taemin is a powerful artist with the ability to retain that raw emotion with all of the technical prowess he now possesses. Although the musical landscape will continue to grow during his temporary absence, it has been forever changed by him.
Until we meet again, Taemin.