Perhaps one of the first things one would notice about f(x)’s Amber when listening to her debut solo mini-album Beautiful is her vocal versatility. The 22-year-old is better known as the main rapper of the five-member group, and even though she has jointly composed tracks such as Red Light’s ‘Summer Lover’ and Pink Tape’s ‘Goodbye Summer’ and was featured in label-mate Henry Lau’s ‘1-4-3 (I Love You)’, the general public is still largely unfamiliar with the fact that she is actually a pretty impressive vocalist. And Beautiful, with its variety of music styles, does an adequate job at changing that perception.
With member Sulli’s indefinite hiatus, questions have been raised about the group’s comeback. Amber’s solo debut could end up to be the only release fans get out of f(x) this year, so it is only natural that a certain amount of expectations was placed on the album.Beautiful appears to convene all that hopes into its title track ‘Shake That Brass’. The song is fun and catchy (even though Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon easily overshadows Amber on some parts), but it also retains a hint of f(x)’s quirkiness in its synth-brass arrangement.
‘Beautiful’ is a classic ballad that surprises listeners with the complexity of Amber’s voice, and the forlorn ‘Love Run’ is equally charming at expressing the loneliness of losing a loved one. The tempo quickens with ‘Heights’ – a poppy dance tune – before slowing down with duet ‘I Just Wanna’. Amber’s voice holds the most impact in the former while the juxtaposition between her softer delivery and Eric Nam’s slightly huskier counterpart injects the right saccharine mood that draws the album to a fitting conclusion.
Recommended tracks: ‘Shake That Brass’ and ‘I Just Wanna’