Jimin – ‘Faces’ Review: BTS Singer Reflects on Turmoil of Modern Life in Shady Debut Solo Album

The singer’s first record sometimes takes a rocky road, but there’s plenty of promise between

Minutes into Jimin’s debut solo album ‘Face’, the sound of music cuts across the speaker before being interrupted by a loud, firm knock on a door. As if answering it, a sparkling instrumental flow flows over ‘Interlude: Dive’, a recording of the singer’s opening remarks from the BTS Busan 2022 concert and interlaced with little sounds of everyday life – a glass full of liquid that comes back after a few seconds; Distant wave of chatter. Midway through, the ominous chords cut in, bringing tension and an undercurrent of darkness to the atmospheric sound collage.

The track may simply be billed as an interlude, but it is indicative of the push and pull between light and dark that is occurring on ‘Face’. The record begins life in early 2022 and finds the BTS star examining his experiences during the pandemic to reveal who he really is, confronting his true feelings instead of presenting them with a cheery face. It, as one of its names suggests, confronts reality and captures the complex rollercoaster of emotions that comes with it.

The battle between opposing forces centers on “Like Crazy,” a crisp synth-pop song inspired by the film of the same name starring Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, and Jennifer Lawrence. “I think we could last forever,” a female voice whispers optimistically in a sample of dialogue at the beginning of the song, before a male voice responds in an equally calm – but far less positive tone. Gives: “I am afraid that everything will disappear.”

Lyrically, the metallic track tells a tale of heartbreak and trying to hold onto what is falling apart. “As the fast music plays / I’m fading away,” Jimin sings. “A cliche story like a play / I’m getting used to it / Have I come too far to find myself that you used to know?” Amidst the gloomy outlook, however, comes escapism with hope—the yearning of not having to face the painful reality morning will bring. “I want to get lost in the light / Get lost in the light,” he cries. “I’m out of my mind / Please stay till the end of this night.”

While the Korean version of ‘Like Crazy’ deals more with the struggle to keep something alive – whether it’s a relationship or a certain embodiment of Jimin’s being – the English version that closes the album sets its sights on the burdens of fame. “I can hear voices / Don’t know who they are,” he sings at a later point. “Trying to take the pressure off / Reaching for the stars / Tell me if I’ll find myself again / When I’m too far away?”

‘Set Me Free Part.2’ – a quick divisive track that would fit neatly into the dramatic symphony of Kanye West’s ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ – tries to fight his way out of hurt. “Look at me now / Even if it hurts I won’t hide anymore,” Jimin declares. “Going crazy to stay sane / Raise your hands for my past.” It is a claim that refuses to give up on her haters and the tough times life gives us.

“Face-Off” and “Alone” – two of the highlights of “Faces” – fall into the shadows, but both take different paths. The former is practically nihilistic, with Jimin spitting, “Tonight I don’t wanna be sober / Pour it up, it’s all over.” The latter, meanwhile, embarks on a more depressing path, telling of a monotonous life where he is “pretending to be okay every time / I’m so pathetic”.

Jimin has talked about challenging himself and showing something darker and more raw on this record. Sonically, he’s done it here in just five tracks, using a range of sounds and styles that both add new strings to his bow as an artist and create an inky and compelling atmosphere. Some of these new adventures in the shadows work better than others, though.

‘Set Me Free Pt.2’ is the most abrasive and in-your-face track on the record, the singer’s forays into rapping processed through thick layers of auto-tune that go beyond stylistic and symbolic and become grating. By the time the song hits its second verse, that effect gets ratcheted up to an uncomfortable level.

If that song is somewhat of a misfire, then the rest of ‘FACE’ fares much better. ‘Alone’ is a triumph, its melancholy, murky guitar lines and Jimin’s quietened vocals taking you into the heart of the loneliness the song portrays, whether you understand his words or not. ‘Face-off’ brings just the right level of intrigue, while the breathy, bubbling delivery of ‘Like Crazy’ provides some lightness, even if it still feels like grey clouds are hovering over it.

‘FACE’ might not be flawless but even in its missteps it reflects the turbulence of modern life – and especially of the last few years. If Jimin’s mission on this record was to stretch himself creatively and distil that dissonance in these songs, it’s one he’s accomplished.


  • Release date: March 24, 2023
  • Record label: Big Hit Music

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