XIUMIN’s solo debut mini-album, Brand New, is the next album to be reviewed on the blog. It was released back at the end of September 2022 and features the title track of the same name. In addition to Brand New (this time I am referring to the song), the mini-album also contains four other tracks – one of which features past collaborator MARK from NCT. Overall, it is a decent mini-album that helped create a solid solo debut for XIUMIN. Not exactly the most mind-blowing release ever, but it does do enough to get me interested in XIUMIN’s solo potential. Aside from solo potential which raises hopes for a future solo comeback, XIUMIN is expected to return as part of EXO alongside his bandmates in an announced Spring 2023 comeback. So there is a bit more to be excited about. But for now, here are my thoughts on Brand New.
1. Brand New (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review of Brand New. (8/10)
2. Feedback – That main pulsing electronic synth was pretty jarring and overtime has gotten annoying for me. But aside from that synth, Feedback is neat electronic dance pop track. I liked how XIUMIN’s vocals embraced the choppy melody (which arose from the choppy nature of the use of the synth in the instrumentation), and how the melody smoothened out for the pre-choruses and choruses. The backing vocals and samples also added a cool backing element to the song. (7/10)
3. How We Do (ft. Mark from NCT) – Last time we heard XIUMIN and Mark together was through their SM STATION collaboration Young & Free. They come together once again through How We Do, another dance track. This time, however, the song delves into 90s territory with its mix of hip-hop and R&B. XIUMIN brings the R&B to the song with his vocal works, while Mark’s raps encroach hip-hop territory. For the most part, How We Do is a decent track. My biggest complaint comes during the second verse, where XIUMIN’s vocals are autotuned. I didn’t think this unfitting feature of the song was necessary. (8/10)
4. Love Letter (민들레) – Moving away from the dance tracks, we get the album’s mandatory ballad through Love Letter. It is one that features a swaying melody that I enjoy when it comes to ballads. Piano and violin, along with soft percussion, makes up the instrumentation for this ballad. Rather typical, but it was a beautiful one nonetheless. I really enjoyed XIUMIN’s softer vocals in this one, which is stilling at times and brings forth a delicate tone that compliments the instrumentation so wonderfully. (9/10)
5. Serenity – Closing XIUMIN’s debut album is a lovely soft pop track that I would recommend to anyone. Every time I listen to Serenity, I find myself smiling to the track. It is one of the reasons to why I pick this song as my favourite from the mini-album. Serenity features acoustics, uplifting drums and soothing vocals from XIUMIN – all of which comes together to create such warm, inviting and inspiring song and end to the release. (10/10)