[Album Review] Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 1 (3rd Studio Album) – Taemin (SHINee)

The next album on the reviewing list for this weekend is Taemin’s latest and third Korean studio album release, Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 1. The album was also released a month ago and Taemin has since ended promotions for the new album, which include the release and promotion of Criminal as the title track, and 2 KIDS as the pre-release single. Taemin has also been quite busy with promotions as part of SuperM, as the group has just released their first studio album as well. Some have said that SuperM’s album release cut short promotions for Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 1, but that isn’t something we are here to discuss. Rather, we are going to have a deep dive into the side tracks on the album.

Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 1 Album Cover

1. Criminal (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Criminal. (10/10)

2. Black Rose (일식) (ft. Kid Milli) Black Rose isn’t as intense as Criminal, but it has this subtle epic factor to the song that makes it very worth listening to. The subtle epicness of the song comes from both the main artists of the song (Taemin) and the featuring artist (Kid Milli). Kid Milli adds what I like to think as ‘hype’ to the song, similar to what we used to hear in R&B and rap songs from the Western industry back in the 00s. It isn’t an energetic sequence, but he keeps it rather subtle. You can feel that it is there and that it was the intended direction of Kid Milli’s featuring. Taemin adds a velvety smoothness to the song that makes Black Rose that more captivating to listen to. And pulling the two parts together is this dark, theatrical and almost gothic sounding instrumental, which is stunning to listen to. Criminal may have started off the album strong, but Black Rose following the title track makes the album’s start even better! (10/10)

3. Strangers – Taemin does aesthetics like no other artist. Strangers is testament to that. Strangers is another captivating song. The instrumental for this track is just on another level. Haunting, clever and engrossing are three different terms to describe one item, but three very suitable terms for this song. The simplicity makes it haunting. The use of footsteps to match with the lyrics is clever. And everything comes together to engross you. I really like how the song builds up. It never reaches a climax, but its this lack of climax that makes the song’s momentum to be aesthetic. Taemin once again is smooth with his vocals and the melodies are super catchy. (10/10)

4. Waiting For (해몽) – Not only is Taemin known for aesthetics, but his solo releases always have a flair to them that makes it hard for any other artist or group to pull off. For Waiting For, the instrumental has tango-influenced instrumentation. It is a unique flair, sexy and just another captivating drawing point to another song on the album. And this is a song that I would love to see a live performance for. It is perfectly crafted to remind us that this is a KPOP song once we get to the chorus, but still has the ability to pull us back to the tango instrumentation. Unfortunately, the song lacks strong hooks to really make that KPOP-aligned chorus memorable and catchy. But that is the only flaw of Waiting For. (9/10)

5. Famous (Korean Version) – I have previously reviewed the Japanese version of Famous. Click here to read that review of Famous. (8.5/10)

6. Clockwork Clockwork is the type of song that takes you places when you close your eyes whilst listening to the song. It is a ballad that really shows off Taemin’s vocals (those high notes at the end were unbelievable). And like any good ballad, you can hear Taemin’s emotions as he sings about missing someone all the time. The instrumental is haunting, but it isn’t posed as dark like the previous songs on the album, which makes it stands out. The use of the ticking clock as part of the instrumental was, once again, clever. And so were those barely noticeable synths used to bring the song to its climatic point. (9/10)

7. Just Me And You Just Me And You opens the album to an upbeat final chapter. Aside from changing the album up, Just Me And You attempts to be impactful with its slow paced thumping and pop sound overall. Unfortunately, I don’t think the song hit that mark perfectly. It gets to that level, but the slowness causes any momentum created to fizzle out. The song’s pop genre alignment is also nothing that special, it makes the song more typical. The trap elements make the song slightly messy, stealing the attention away from Taemin’s vocals. And top it off, the song lacks any strong hooks to really help bolden the song. I feel that Just Me And You is the weakest song on the album. One that I would frankly skip over. (6/10)

8. Nemo (네모) Nemo features the R&B genre. Taemin has done R&B before but has done so in a fashionable manner. Nemo comes off more as more of your typical R&B release from any other artist. There are a number of elements in this song that bump it ahead of Just Me And You. The first has to be Taemin’s vocals, who sounds effortlessly amazing. I feel that there was some smoothness to his voice that wins me over. The 90s vibe of the instrumental was also quite nice. I also really like the start to the choruses in Nemo, which adds a bit of excitement to the song and feels like an end-goal that I would definitely sit through the song for. (7.5/10)

9. 2 KIDS (Pre-Release Track)Click here to read the full review for 2 KIDS. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 1 Teaser Image

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