[Album Review] GASOLINE (2nd Studio Album) – KEY (SHINee)

Apologies for the lack of album reviews (and reviews in general) over the weekend. I opted to not post anything during the festivities of the Lunar New Year, instead focusing on family (although through video calls and group chats this year) per tradition. I will reserve my wishes to you all that celebrate Lunar New Year in the Weekly KPOP Charts post that will go up tomorrow. For now, I leave you with the album review I had originally intended to post on Saturday – KEY’s 2nd studio album, GASOLINE. The studio album was released at the end of August 2022 and features the title track of the same name (and 10 other side tracks). GASOLINE follows KEY’s first mini-album, BAD LOVE from 2021, which many people can agree on it being a very successful solo album. While I don’t think GASOLINE reaches the heights of BAD LOVE, it definitely continues to show KEY’s individuality and potential as an artist (not that he really needs to prove that – BAD LOVE for sure cemented that confidence into anyone who had doubts about KEY).

Gasoline Album Cover

1. Gasoline (가솔린) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Gasoline. (7.5/10)

2. Bound – Following the title track is Bound, a dark and sexy pop track that I personally feel is fitting for KEY’s style, brand and personality. The pairing of deep vocals that KEY brings to Bound via the verses and the higher pitched he gives us in the choruses shows off KEY’s vocal capabilities, but also creates a captivating atmosphere. The sassy attitude vibe that the instrumental is so unapologetic dark and alluring, with the instrumental breaks we get being so charismatic. (9/10)

3. Villain (ft. Jeno of NCT)Villain joins the forces of both KEY (as this is his album) and JENO (from NCT) in a really cool and funky sounding track. There is also a dark vibe to the track, but not as much as the previous track, which allows it to both follow on and ease us away from the first two tracks of the album. I liked the back and forth between both KEY and Jeno, and the differences between the two idols musically and with the lyrics (which were about a villain wanting to be a main character). KEY’s vocals bringing smoothness whilst Jeno’s vocals/raps were rough and raspy. Together, they melded with one another to create a nice ‘icing on the cake’ scenario for the song. (9/10)

4. BurnBurn begins as an emotional break up song, with KEY’s passionate and soaring vocals delivering the start of the song. But as the song progresses, Burn ends up falling into the funky and groovy territory of pop music, which was a pleasant surprise in terms of trajectory for the song. This gave the song character and a uniqueness to that I personally enjoyed. However, to keep the Burn interesting, I wished the second verse was a bit more creative and not necessarily a repeat of the first verse. I appreciate that it snaps back to the roots of the song (i.e., the emotional feeling from the first verse), but the second verse just didn’t feel as interesting as it could have been. (8/10)

5. Guilty Pleasure – You could expect Guilty Pleasure in the clubs! I really enjoyed the consistent drive of the retro house synths, which just makes it idea for that club environment. I do feel that KEY’s vocals and Guilty Pleasure’s melodies could have been a bit more captivating and interesting. But it is a solid track, nonetheless. (7.5/10)

6. G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time) G.O.A.T stands out with its atmospheric and bubbly synths that make up the song’s instrumentation. KEY sounds really pleasant throughout G.O.A.T, with the melodies having a swaying effect, similar to the ones I tend to mention when I talk about ballads. At the bridge of the song, the producers insert an orchestral touch to heighten the peak of G.O.A.T, which I personally thought was a cool and unique twist to a synth-filled track. While I do think it was successful, the final chorus should have followed through with a better drop, just to carry on that momentum more naturally. (9/10)

7. I Can’t SleepI Can’t Sleep is one of my favourite side tracks on the album. I just feel like it is the most straightforward and simple song on the album that also manages to speak volume. There is also a fun and vibrant tone to it. Another reason to why I picked it as one of my favourite because it also feels nostalgic to me, thanks to the song’s pop instrumentation. (9/10)

8. Ain’t Gonna DanceAin’t Gonna Dance is a lot more complicated, but still sits in the pop realm. It starts off atmospheric with balanced and measured vocals from KEY. But this is short-lived, as the percussion comes in boldly, making a statement to what is come with the rest of the song – textured trap beats and funky undertones, all of which feels miles away from the start of Ain’t Gonna Dance. KEY sounds amazing in this track, showing off falsettos in the chorus that allows the textures from the spacious instrumentation to do some of the speaking alongside his vocals. Altogether, it creates an interesting energy that I would gladly replay over and over again. (10/10)

9. Another Life – Based on my understanding, Another Life was previously performed as part of KEY’s first solo online concert from 2021 – Beyond LIVE – Key: Groks in the Keyland. It is also an all-English track. Another Life kicks things off with a synthwave instrumental that gets more intense and bolder during the chorus. It is quite a strong instrumentation, and so I am quite impressed with how powerful KEY’s vocals come off as. There was also some good hooks and moments that bumps up Another Life in my books. The choreography for Another Life is also remarkable and showcases KEY’s performance skills very well. (9/10)

10. Delight – The piano at the start was misleading, suggesting for a second that Delight was going into ballad territory. But in a matter of seconds, the track picks up with very bright/vivid vocals and ultimately progresses towards disco-pop territory. I love how breezy KEY’s vocals sound in the track, especially during the falsettos he delivers in the chorus. Altogether, Delight is a purely fun and playful track that I have definitely been replaying since the album’s release. Aside from the first few seconds, Delight can also be described as straightforward and simple. (10/10)

11. Proud – Ending the album is a track that delves into a genre that hasn’t been heard elsewhere on the album just yet. Proud kicks things off with a prominent hip-hop beat and reflects on his career so far. I do like the tone and energy that KEY puts into the song, but I felt the melodies were a little dull for my liking. But still a neat ender to the album which quality is consistent with the rest of the album. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

Gasoline Teaser Image

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