Before SHINee member Jonghyun dropped his first mini-album BASE on January 12, fans were teased with multiple teaser images and videos on social media. He is the second member of the group to make a solo debut – maknae Taemin released the successful ACE in August 2014 – and is often regarded as one of best vocalist in SHINee so the anticipation for BASE was high right up to day it was released.
It was evident that the eight-track album is crafted to live up to the expectations fans have for Jonghyun’s first solo release. The 24-year-old wrote the lyrics for all of songs and worked with four talented musicians on the collaboration tracks. BASE opens with ‘Déjà Boo’ featuring Zion. T – a funk-R&B number that is insanely catchy. It was pre-released on January 7 and made its way to the top of major music charts in Korea shortly after its release. And like ‘Déjà Boo’, which sounds more like something you would expect from Zion. T instead, the title track ‘Crazy (Guilty Pleasure)’ is a clear departure from the music we would normally associate with SHINee. Some have expected it to contain heavier melody due to the dark video teaser that was released earlier, but the sexy groove lures you in almost immediately and IRON’s rap adds a hint of hip-hop to Jonghyun’s otherwise sensual delivery.
‘Hallelujah’ and ‘MONO-Drama’ are comparatively slower jams that enable Jonghyun’s voice to take the spotlight. The former, in particular, backs his vocals with a full choir, adding depth and impact to the ballad. ‘Love Belt’ – a soulful duet with Younha – is an easy song to love. What makes it truly memorable was how her effortless, soothing voice contrasts Jonghyun’s huskier rendition. ‘NEON’ fails to leave much of an impression although the playful synths do help to break the mid-tempo tones of the album. Bonus tracks ‘Beautiful Tonight’ and ‘Fortune Cookie’ stand out for their jazzy undertones and are a testament to Jonghyun’s efforts at staying true to his own artistic and musical preferences.
Recommended tracks: ‘Déjà Boo’, ‘Love Belt’, ‘Beautiful Tonight’, ‘Fortune Cookie’