By: Claudia Siregar |
Not an unfamiliar name for those who are into the second generation K-pop scene, Kim Taeyeon, leader and main vocalist of SM Entertainment’s popular girlgroup Girls Generation (SNSD), has embarked on a successful solo career since 2014 with her first single “I”. The 1989-born singer has recently released her second full-length album “Purpose”, a rather darker piece compared to her previous solo works. Combining elements of retro pop, various musical references, and Taeyeon’s slightly sultry yet sweet vocals, “Purpose” is one of the must-hear 2019 K-pop albums and here’s why.
Popular for her theatricality, it’s not a surprise that the opening track of Taeyeon’s second album, “Here I Am”, a piano ballad decorated by various vocal adlibs, has a climactic orchestral buildup. A promising introduction to the album indeed, followed by “Spark”, the first single off the album. “Spark” is an upbeat number about having a big “fire” inside one’s (Taeyeon’s) tiny body, guitar-heavy with lots of falsetto adlibs and Taeyeon’s signature belting, somewhat reminiscent of her earlier bubblegum pop rock style (listen to Fine for reference). The album gets darker with tracks such as “Find Me” and “Love You Like Crazy” marks the album’s departure from a clean, upbeat sound to a mature, soulful one. “LOL” takes us to an even darker dimension as this slow R&B track showcases us Taeyeon’s lower register. It only gets better as the next track, “Better Babe”, a blues rock-influenced number takes us somewhere Taeyeon has never taken us before. Whereas we are used to Taeyeon singing bubblegum tracks, now we hear her as a bar singer – not your ordinary bar singer, though. “Wine”, a piano ballad, marks the continuation of the dark theme present throughout the album – which stops at “Do You Love Me”, a sweet retro pop track reminiscent of 60’s American country pop singers such as Skeeter Davis. The next track “City Love” is a Japanese citypop-influenced number, still carrying the retro tone of the album, which continues on to the last track, “Gravity”, a soul pop track filled with gracefully sung high notes.
It has been stated that Taeyeon took part in the creative process, especially in vocal-directing the album. The result is something different from the usual SM release – dark, mature, yet artistic and far from bland. At the very least, we can all agree that Taeyeon’s “Purpose” has resulted in a sense of purpose for Taeyeon herself as an artist.
Listen to Taeyeon here: