Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review: JYJ's Jaejoong's "I/Mine"

JYJ Jaejoong - I/Mine (2012, South Korea) Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Tracks: One Kiss, All Alone

Jaejoong's solo EP was at the top of my list of highly anticipated releases the moment I read that it'd be rock-influenced and self-composed. The pre-released track, entitled “One Kiss,” generated a lot of buzz as soon as hit the airwaves, but I opted to wait for the full album to give it a good listen. With the exception of “Maze,” Jae's solos have never really stuck with me, but the orchestral arrangement in this song, reminiscent of the classic rock ballads I grew up listening to, instantly drew me in. I can play this from start to finish and find no evident flaws aside from a few awkwardly delivered notes. Those are more than offset, however, by his raw, emotional vocals that begin on almost an even-keel level, then gradually build up as they move towards the chorus where they eventually take wings, soaring above the instrumentals. 

The mv for  "Mine" was beautifully filmed, borrowing many of the dark, vampiric elements found within your average visual kei pv but somehow adding a unique twist to it. The strong themes seem to allude to his personal and coughverypublic struggles. The brilliance of this music video is that it provides a lot of complex imagery for the viewer to interpret however they please. I was already formulating theories a minute into my first watch.

Unfortunately, the song itself fell a little short for me. Though I enjoyed the grand symphonic accompaniment and piano interlude, the vocal transitions were awkward and disjointed. Even the aggressive metal riffs and dynamic drum sequence couldn't make up for that. I'm usually a fan of unconventional vocal styles but I didn't appreciate the strained edge to Jaejoong's voice as he belted out the chorus. It sounded inauthentic to me.

A mid-tempo alternative to the previous track can be found in 내안 가득히”. Jaejoong shows off his impressive range over a softer modern pop rock sound thats accented by a simple, steady beat. Overall, it's a pretty pleasant track to listen to if you're in the mood for song with an inspirational and hopeful vibe to it. 

나만의 위로” begins with an introspective acoustic balladry which carries on for much longer than necessary. After the second chorus the song progresses into an intense guitar driven symphony arrangement. Jaejoong's powerful vocal presentation offers much needed depth to an otherwise typical kdrama insert song but the track ends so abruptly it seemed unfinished.

Here it is – the last, and final, song on the album. “All Alone” is a great choice to finish on with its poignant melody supported by soft, layered harmonies.  Though some of the lyrics are repeated ad-nauseam, that can easily be discounted because its sung with such conviction.

With the exception of "Mine," this album is a commendable effort of a seasoned musician experimenting in a genre outside of what currently sells well in the industry. It might not be my personal favorite, but it's definitely worth listening to - and might even convince more listeners to try out k-rock, a good thing, right?

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