BTS is back; cue chart (and world) domination in 3,2,1.
The Korean supergroup dropped their 20 track studio album “Map Of The Soul:7”, along with the official music video for the lead single “ON”.
From features with Sia and shared writing credits with some of the biggest names in Western music including Troye Sivan, the songs in this album work with distinctly different sounds and genres on each track, make of that what you will.
With a solid R&B lead on “Louder than bombs”, the vocal line maintains the sultriness required of the genre, being cut in perfect balance by the rap line’s moody raps and riffs. The chorus of the song takes a turn, leading you unexpectedly into an Imagine Dragons-esque chorus.
An extension of this R&B sound is explored in more depth in its predecessor “My Time” – a solo performed by the youngest member of the group, Jungkook. The track explores the 22 year old’s time in the spotlight and his journey, arriving where he is today. Textured with some traditional r&b beats, and his airy and technically perfect vocals, the song takes you where you need to be.
Moving forward, the lead single “ON” serves a mixture of pop-trap and moombahtan – a sound previously explored only in their hit single “Blood, Sweat and Tears”. A radio-friendly single, it walks the line between K-pop and Western pop perfectly, and backed by the groups’ loyal ARMY, is sure to find a place on the radio and charts world over.
Rap tracks like “UGH!” and “Respect” show different sides of the rap line; the former combining all the reliable tricks used by the three proficient and unique rappers – think “Cypher”, “Ddaeng” and “Bapsae” all in one track and you’ve got “UGH!”. The latter, is probably the farthest away from RM and SUGA as fans were expecting, giving fans a J-Hope esque vintage, retro and basically happy sound to the track, peppered with obvious sarcasm and an interesting outro of Satoori (local dialects of Korean).
Jimin provides fans with an impressive acoustic rendition of his own on the album with the track “Filter”. Songs like “Friends”, “00:00 (Zero O’Clock)”, “Moon” and the much anticipated “We are Bulletproof: the Eternal” are almost completely missable if you aren;t paying attention to the tracklist, considering how close they are to each other in sound. With a heavy influence of Western pop-radio sounds, the tracks pretty much flow into each other.
Considering their now high-flying status in the commercial Western music world, it is presumably in their best interest to create music more easily consumable by the masses. But, somewhere along the way, their unique sound has taken a backseat, it would seem.
Their first single “Black Swan” still stands out as a definitive song on the album – working with a completely different sound, and diving deep into a theme rarely explored by artists. Accompanied by SUGA’S “Shadow”, the album proved to be off to a solid start, but dwindled somewhere in the middle.
Either way, BTS is back, bigger than ever before.