‘FACE’ Album Review: Jimin Sets Himself Free
“The key point was freedom.” When Jimin sat down with Consequence to discuss his pre-release single, “Set Me Free Pt.2,” he shared this sentiment, one that also feels largely applicable to his new album, FACE, available today, March 24th. Welcome to the show, where Jimin is officially taking center stage.
The BTS member is known for many things — his mix of athleticism and delicacy onstage, honed by years of ballet and modern dance training, makes him one of the most fascinating performers working right now. His airy, acrobatic voice has him responsible for many of the most memorable high notes and harmonies throughout BTS’s extensive discography. By any account, he’s notoriously kindhearted and thoughtful, and strikes as the kind of creative who feels things deeply. FACE is a whole new game, though, and posits a question for longtime listeners and more recent BTS fans alike: Who is Jimin, when he’s on his own?
Take a listen to FACE below, and read on for our analysis of Jimin’s first solo effort.
FACE begins, maybe a bit surprisingly, with a circus-type melody on “Face-off.” The world of entertainment is a wild one; the experience of existing so intensely in the public eye might sometimes feel akin to wearing a full face of makeup and putting on a performance for the sake of everyone in the vicinity.
In the notes that accompanied the stream of the album, though, Jimin specifies that this opening track is about finding resilience after feelings of doubt and disappointment. It lands like an Ariana Grande sweetener-era song distilled through the expert, hard-hitting lens of a BTS recording session (the highest of compliments from this writer); in short, the song absolutely slays. “Tonight I’m gonna not be sober… It’s all fucking over,” Jimin growls. Jimin wrote lyrics on every track of the album, and his bandmate, BTS leader RM, is credited as a co-writer on two of the highlights of the overall strong project, “Face-off” and “Like Crazy.”
“Face-off” cascades into “Interlude : Dive,” an amalgam of sounds and memories both sweet and sad. The vignettes offer an intimate look into Jimin’s daily life, especially since these are noted as audio clips he chose and, in places, recorded himself — there’s a knock at the door followed by the sound of someone catching their breath; later, we hear a flashback to Jimin introducing himself onstage at a BTS concert. Is it a coincidence or an Easter egg that the chord progression mirrors bandmate j-hope’s “Blue Side?”
The centerpiece of the album is main track “Like Crazy,” a pulsing, stylish, and glittery offering that demands attention the way a song from The Weeknd might. (The last song on the project is an English version of “Like Crazy,” and a fair world would see it finding a happy home on radio.) The synth-laden track is a nod to the 2011 film of the same name, one of Jimin’s favorites, and he samples whispers from fraught lovers throughout. “I’d rather be lost in the lights/ I’m outta my mind,” he sings. “I wanna stay in this dream/ Don’t save me.”
Jimin then pulls things back with “Alone,” a tender, vulnerable glance into his pandemic experience full of doubts, frustrations, and fear. He thrillingly spends time in his lower register here, always a treat from the vocalist who often naturally ends up with other responsibilities on BTS tracks. This is followed by “Set Me Free Pt.2,” the audacious pre-release single that signaled to listeners just how bold and dramatic this era could be.
The only downside to FACE is its length. Many of Jimin’s solo tracks in BTS’s extensive discography are sweet, tender, or more in the ballad space; it’s absurdly fun getting to see him prioritize harder edges, beat drops, and R&B influences with this project. Its six tracks wrap all too quickly, and while it was specified that Jimin doesn’t consider this a full-length project, it does leave the listener craving more music in this vein somewhere down the road — it’s worth repeating that the energy of “Face-off” is one that he should consider chasing most of all.
But back to that key point Jimin shared — the idea of freedom feels relevant to every song on the project, and maybe even floats to the top as the biggest takeaway by the time FACE ends. Throughout, Jimin sounds mature and confident, unafraid of themes or lyrics people might not have associated with him until this point. “Did I come too far to find the me that I used to know?” he asks on “Like Crazy.” “I’m feelin’ so alive.” When BTS announced a second chapter, one with space designated for the members of the band to explore individual endeavors, it was hard to imagine what could have come next — the mood of “Face-off,” choreography and styling in “Set Me Free Pt.2,” and the lyrics in “Like Crazy” feel like expansions, rather than course-corrections, of the artist Jimin has been growing into over the last decade.
A quote many BTS fans tend to return to comes from their Commencement Speech to the Class of 2020, in which Jimin shared, “Remember there is a person here in Korea, in the city of Seoul, who understands you.” He’s an artist who has spent the past decade giving — giving time to his group, giving his physical commitment to the best performances possible, and giving himself to the work required to create and write about his feelings around all of it. This release is one that required a certain amount of bravery; perhaps in sharing this collection with the world, Jimin himself will feel just a bit more more understood, too.
Essential Tracks: “Face-off,” “Like Crazy,” “Set Me Free Pt.2”
FACE Album Artwork: