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Xiumin brings out old school in first solo album ‘Brand New’

Xiumin of boy band EXO poses during an online press conference held for his first solo album, “Brand New,” on Monday. (SM Entertainment)
Xiumin of boy band EXO poses during an online press conference held for his first solo album, “Brand New,” on Monday. (SM Entertainment)

Months after celebrating his 10th anniversary, Xiumin of boy band EXO welcomed the rustling sound of falling leaves with his first-ever solo album, “Brand New,” released Monday evening.

The singer-turned-soloist is the seventh bandmate to go solo, while other members like Baekhyun, Kai and Suho have branched out as a soloist with their own musical projects.

In a press conference Monday hosted by his bandmate Sehun, Xiumin described the new album as his “turning point.”

“I’ve done several solo activities before, but this is my official solo album, so I’m a bit nervous and can feel my heart fluttering with excitement. As the title suggests, I think the album marks a turning point for me because I’ve tried to meld in the new side of me, so I hope people will look forward to my other side,” he said.

Xiumin of boy band EXO poses during an online press conference held for his first solo album, “Brand New,” on Monday. (SM Entertainment)
Xiumin of boy band EXO poses during an online press conference held for his first solo album, “Brand New,” on Monday. (SM Entertainment)

The musician’s first solo musical project is packed with retro tunes from the ‘90s and early ‘00s, with a pinch of his musical taste and style, referring to the genre as something he grew up listening to. Gushing about the album, he added that his music will make people feel nostalgic.

“Old-school songs make you listen to music with your heart since the types of music source used in each track are simple, while you need a lot of information when you hear music that’s done now. But music is something that we all listen to together whenever and wherever,” Xiumin said.

The namesake titular “Brand New” is a dance song that gives an old-school vibe and has an addictive hook. The words to the song show his determination of wanting to reveal a new side of him to the person he loves. Both the lyrics and music video fall under the theme of a gift, the musician said, calling it a present that makes everybody happy.

But unlike the bright ambiance of the song, Xiumin’s solo journey was a tough row to hoe.

Xiumin of boy band EXO poses during an online press conference held for his first solo album, “Brand New,” on Monday. (SM Entertainment)
Xiumin of boy band EXO poses during an online press conference held for his first solo album, “Brand New,” on Monday. (SM Entertainment)

“The main vocalists usually sang the song in EXO, but I’m the one who has to sing throughout the whole solo track, so I even got vocal lessons to hone my vocal skills. That’s why I’d like to say the album is like it's full of gifts,” the musician said.

When asked why he decided to push the envelope as a soloist, Xiumin said it’s because he yearns to be on stage as EXO.

“I had a long hiatus as a singer because I had to enlist in the military. After I was discharged, other bandmates went into the military, and I couldn’t just wait. I wanted to greet fans as a singer, and that’s how I ended up bringing my first solo album,” he said.

Xiumin also expressed hopes that fans would recognize him as a solo artist with the new album.

“I want to show fans I can be on stage, fill the stage as a soloist, and put out a solo album. That’s the ultimate goal I want to reach with my album, and I hope my thoughts will land well with fans,” Xiumin added.

Xiumin of boy band EXO poses during an online press conference held for his first solo album, “Brand New,” on Monday. (SM Entertainment)
Xiumin of boy band EXO poses during an online press conference held for his first solo album, “Brand New,” on Monday. (SM Entertainment)

Other songs that round out the album are: “How We Do,” a jack swing genre interweaving hip-hop and urban contemporary sounds which Mark of NCT lent his voice for the rap verse; powerful uptempo dance track “Feedback”; “Serenity,” a song that makes listeners feel warm inside; and ballad track “Love Letter.”

At the end of the event, Xiumin walked down memory lane, looking back on his 10-year career. The best thing he has done so far is how he has maintained EXO and Xiumin as EXO, he said.

“I’ve realized that my most precious things are my bandmates and EXO-Ls, and those are something I’ll always cling onto,” he said, thanking his fandom.

Xiumin’s five-song package hit global music platforms on Monday at 6 p.m.

(junheee@heraldcorp.com)

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