With little attention from the K-pop industry as a whole, idol band The Rose seems to have cultivated a dedicated international fan base — enough for the group to launch tour dates around the world. They may only have a few singles under their belt, but the band has already spawned a solo album from its leader (and lead vocalist) Kim Woosung. Face is an accomplished piece of slightly left-field pop, though it suffers from the same affectations as Woosung’s work with the main group.
It’s hard to be objective about Woosung’s work, because his vibrato-heavy style is a love-it-or-hate-it stylistic choice. Honestly, I can’t quite get over it. He’s got an otherwise incredible tone, but the insistence on ending almost every phrase with that fluttering affectation makes it hard for me to embrace the music. So, you’ve been warned. This site is called The Bias List for a reason.
Trying to put that aside, Face is a cool burst of indie pop with a surprisingly sticky hook. It’s the sound of The Rose filtered through trendy elements of 2019-era K-pop, which would usually be a problem. But, Woosung never leans fully into any one style, and incorporates enough rhythm guitar and funky bass to give Face a more timeless appeal. Plus, the relatively clipped delivery that characterizes much of the track helps minimize that pesky vibrato. While it might not always be to my taste, Woosung’s performance certainly has character, and that unique twist gives Face more appeal than most solo releases of late.
* In a somewhat unrelated note, I’m absolutely in love with the album’s cover. It reminds me of the proudly cheesy images that often dominated pop music of the 70’s and 80’s.
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