Want: to have a need, desire, wish, hunger, yearning for something or someone. To have a want can be as simple as being inclined to a certain choice, or be as intense to long for someone. There is an array of wants that we find ourselves enticed with, and Taemin’s latest mini-album does its best to convey this simple but intricate sentiment across seven tracks. 

Want, which topped iTunes charts in 29 countries shortly after its release and sold more than 40,000 albums on its first day of sales, explores not only the romantic interests one may have, but also the disinterest or confusion towards relationships that may be present in their lives. 

In “Want”, Taemin poses himself as the end-game and desired lover. 
You’ll be a prisoner to this heat, you’ll want me even more. 
You’ll burn up even more. 
(Hot, hot) I’ll burn you up even more slow. 
(Hot, hot) I want you to fall for me without limit. 
The prohibited fruit is even sweeter so it’s tempting you. 
The clash is making your senses heightened. 

The title track was described to be of a Space Disco genre, and it’s really refreshing to hear. Disco, let alone Space Disco, is not common in the K-Pop sphere; while “Want” does seem similar to Taemin’s 2017 release, “Move”, it still brings an exhilarating uniqueness that only he can pull off. Like “Move”, the track is a heated, fiery groove.

Unlike “Move” and its Pop-R&B influence, “Want” has an obvious Disco influence apparent in the steady pulse of the instrumental. Its appeal lies in the uncluttered, slightly old-school vibe that is brought about the patterned and regular backing of the song. The addition of synths and percussions in the instrumental during the chorus adds to the charm of the song and keeps listeners hooked from start to finish. 

Similar to “Want”, “Artistic Groove” is minimal in its production, and the two tracks create a great pair. Where Taemin aims to entice in “Want”, he is enticed in “Artistic Groove”. (“A wave that swirls deeper into my heart, that’s what you are.”) Although both are relatively simple in their instrumentals, “Artistic Groove” is the water to “Want”’s fire. It’s smooth and sensual in its execution, and compliments the more fiery title track very well. Both these tracks bring a focus to Taemin’s vocals and his ability to exude a sensual and emotional gravity — a quality that is inherently unique to Taemin. 

“Artistic Groove”, “Truth”, and “Monologue” are all about the persona of the song wanting to get closer to the subject of the song.

It’s gotta be you, in every moment
of my life, in my heart. 
Another name for my heart is you. 

Although “Truth” starts off as a somewhat generic ballad, it’s made more engaging through the introduction of electronic elements in the build-up to and the chorus itself, transforming the track into more of a lyrical/dance ballad, fitting in well with the sound of the mini-album. 

The innocence of the affection in “Truth” is contrasted by the melancholic, unobtainable love in “Monologue”. Also a ballad, the song talks about the aftermath of a break-up, and the persona wanting to reunite with their loved one. “I call for you to come back again, I miss your eyes every day,” Taemin sings. It isn’t until this track that the artist really boasts his vocals. The song is almost stripped of all instrumentals, except for the accompaniment of a piano and the cello.

Refraining from the airy vocals presented throughout the other tracks, Taemin sings this song with solid, belting notes, and pairs it off with some vocal harmony. As raw and honest the track is, especially with a title like “Monologue”, it does seem to feel slightly out of place in terms of the overall sound of the album. 

Want is not one-dimensional; Taemin doesn’t only sing about longing for someone (or vice versa), but he also tackles the issue of being pursued by someone you no longer want. 

Possibly the most instrumentally complex track, “Shadow” is captivating in all ways: the instrumentals, the vocals, the dramatic flair. It’s the most stylistically stimulating track with a pronounced difference in the chorus and the rest of the song, swapping the staccato-like violin instrumentals for a heavier, orchestral instrumental base during the chorus. The song doesn’t just stand out in terms of the musicality of the song, but also in terms of its lyrics: 

Even if I erase and burn you,
it’ll only thicken the mark. 
I remember how I loved you. 
You follow and tease me every day. 
You’re like a shadow. 
It constantly hovers in my ears,
your voice won’t leave me alone. 

The combination of the dramatic, orchestral instrumentals and the lyrics gives “Shadow” an alluring, haunting quality, and keeps the listeners hooked to the album as it falls in the middle of the track-list. Comparing their past partner to a shadow, the metaphor is built upon by the echoes of “la la la la” in the background vocals, which just seems like a thing haunting shadows would do in horror movies — the echoes make the track all the more beguiling and intriguing.

“Never Forever”, while instrumentally simple, is lyrically complex. It also presents a nice juxtaposition with a light-hearted, simple beat and serious lyrics with a confused sense of push-and-pull between the persona and their lover. 

We were attracted to each other like the fate we found.
But, after all it’s different. 
Should we drift away? 
Never forever, baby. 
We’re turning around now, each on a different path.
Never forever, baby.
I’m holding onto you. 

Akin to “Monologue”, “Never Forever” does seem to fall outside the sound of the mini-album, but still presents itself as an appealing, gorgeous track. Taemin sings in a higher key than the other songs, and he combines lighter, airy vocals with stronger, solid notes. His vocals are further highlighted and complimented by the synths and guitar in the instrumental. 

The only serious complaint about this album is the length of “Want ~outro~”. Pun intended, it really leaves you wanting for more, and upon the first listening it felt like an interlude, as opposed to an outro. Just when Taemin’s voice creeps in with an echo of “oohs”, and you’re really getting into it, the track (and the album) end on a sudden, solemn note. Yet, despite being an instrumental tease, “Want ~outro~” is the perfect summary for Want: a mini-album with a minimalistic dance/R&B/electro sound, paired with Taemin’s delicate and breezy vocals. 

I really enjoyed Want on my first listen, but had largely preferred Move for how it presented a more diverse and richer side of Taemin, and turned his level of sensuality and flair up a notch. On contemplation, though, Want is simply a mini-album, and yet managed to broadcast how Taemin is a man of artistic gravitas. The sextet of songs continue to build on a sound that is distinctly Taemin: suave, sensual, and sophisticated. Showcasing a pitch-perfect performance, Want presents itself a perfect musical foundational base for Taemin to build on. 

(YouTube. Lyrics via: Color Coded Lyrics. Images via: SM Entertainment)