BTS’s Quarantine Baby, “BE”: A Review of The Album

BTS' New Album "BE" details the lockdown in entirety

BTS have officially plotted a brand new page in their extensive discography. The group released their highly anticipated studio album, “BE”, earlier today. And, this one boasts an 8-track list, complete with their Hot 100 smash hit single, ‘Dynamite’. Now, if you’re looking for one word to define this project, you won’t find it here. Because this album is many things – disarming in some parts, confused in others, and reflective in its sum.

Kicking things off is their title track, ‘Life Goes On’ – a wholesome, mellow acoustic pop melody. And, quite frankly, the sonic embodiment of the tear-filled, overwhelmed emoji face.

Bracketed (quite fittingly, as listeners will discover) by ‘Life Goes On’ and ‘Dynamite’, the album features a myriad of genre-exploring tracks – ‘Fly To My Room’, ‘Blue & Grey’, ‘Telepathy’, ‘Dis-ease’, and ‘Stay’. Flitting from acoustic pop to slick R&B and advancing to old school hip-hop, “BE” takes a dip in every musical pond. And, that may be the feature, for many listeners, that makes or breaks this album.

Dive In: Themes & Sonic Exploration

Inspired entirely by their time in lockdown, BTS uses “BE” to detail their anxieties and confusions as people, during this surreal time. And, for that very reason, every stage of the lockdown blues is represented on the release. ‘Fly To My Room’, set to a synth-pop, jazz-band groove, details the renewal and turning point everyone experienced at some point or the other.

Then, grounding you after the crescendo of ‘Fly To My Room’, the acoustic hip-hop unit track, ‘Blue & Grey’, descends like a calming wind. Complete with airy notes and whimsical runs, the track prepares you for full attention. Because, what follows is their ‘Skit’, a celebratory interlude of the members’ conversation following their Hot 100 #1 landing.

And, aptly, kicking off celebrations, enters the funky, and perhaps the most unfamiliar and original track on the album, ‘Telepathy’. Filled to the brim with groovy bass lines, and foot-tapping rhyme, the track is nothing short of an earworm. And, remember the mention of “disarming”? Well, the embodiment of that word lies in the second-to-last track, ‘Dis-ease’. Described by the group as “old-school hip hop”, the arrangement is sure to catch you off guard. With a funky bassline at hand, the song eventually crescendos in a festive climax that’s a lot more than just “old-school hip hop”.

What’s The Verdict?

“BE” is perhaps the farthest BTS have roamed from their characteristic sound. You know it – the musical universe-building, metaphorical, symbolic sound. Surely, their last studio album, “Map of the Soul: 7” initiated that departure. But, in the midst of a global pandemic – a time in history so unprecedented – a yearning for something new, and an attempt at switching gears is a most understandable coping mechanism.

As for whether it’s up your alley or not, is a question you’ll have to answer regardless of the artist, the project or time of year.

By: Ahalya Narayanan