BTS have produced a assured lockdown album (Image: Large Hit)
Artists making lockdown albums may have leaned into the distress of the 12 months – however fortunately, BTS have given disappointment a swerve.
The Ok-pop kings have dropped their fifth Korean language album, their second this 12 months, and it will likely be a tonic for the ARMY after a tricky 12 months.
BTS’s BE was described as reflecting the ‘ideas, feelings and deepest ruminations of BTS’, and it’s clear from the opening monitor Life Goes On that RM, Suga, J-Hope, Jin, Jungkook, V and Jimin have taken their cues from the previous 12 months. BE is a recreation of two halves – an inward take a look at the hardships of 2020, with a skit separating them from a sequence of upbeat bops to distract us from all that.
The primary three tracks on BE is as shut as BTS have come to an easy-listening mini-album, the equal of a rocking chair – albeit a really slickly produced one. Life Goes On, a mature mid-tempo quantity, reminds us simply that, that all of us must persevere by means of these powerful occasions. What may have been a normal album opener within the arms of different acts is elevated by BTS with butter-smooth vocals and rap verses that add a slight edge to the consolation.
If Life Goes On is an encouraging increase, monitor three Blue & Gray is a extra private tackle the pandemic, with the chorus ‘I simply wish to be happier’ portray an image of how BTS have coped in a 12 months the place their world tour has been cancelled. I believe this might be a fan favorite; whereas BTS are expert at producing the bops, it’s good to see them get extra private with their lyrics. Whereas on first hear, Blue & Gray might appear to be a normal ballad, it acts as a 2020 time capsule and can doubtless join with lots of people who’ve struggled with their psychological well being – and the extra you concentrate on it, it’s refreshing for the most important band on the planet to handle nervousness and despair so candidly on a report.
Blue & Gray follows the Suga, J-Hope, Jimin and V subunit monitor Fly To My Room, which at first hear is a slice of 90s R&B and a extra grown-up, sexier sound for BTS. Nonetheless, the lyrics give attention to the boys being trapped of their rooms and combating being contained. In 2020, even BTS’s sexiest grooves are tinged with lockdown woes.
That’s to not say that the album is a downer – in actual fact, I’d go so far as to say Telepathy is one in every of BTS’s strongest dancefloor tracks to this point. Sounding like a extra retro accompaniment to Vacation by Little Combine, the post-skit (solely BTS would come with a skit about their Scorching 100 rating smack bang in the course of a half hour album) banger instantly boosts the power of the report. Whereas album nearer Dynamite could be the full BTS disco expertise, Telepathy is a extra delicate funk-tinged effort, however has an added maturity, confidence and ease that pips it to the publish because the album’s most profitable bop.
Dis-ease additionally leans into the retro vibes, with a extremely produced refrain and old fashioned hiphop references, and the one-two shot of Telepathy and Dis-ease is certainly the best level of BE, a double hit of the power BTS are so identified for. The upbeat tone follows on with the RM, Jin and JK subunit monitor Keep, however switches from funk and hip-hop to EDM. It’s a effective segue into Dynamite, however much less unique and extra paint-by-numbers than the remainder of the album’s second half, with its beat drop into the hook and extra emphasis on the manufacturing than anything.
Earlier than we all know it, the album is closing with the US primary monitor Dynamite, the English language tune that has soundtracked all the pieces from Samsung adverts to HRVY’s salsa on Strictly Come Dancing. Regardless of it getting extra radio play than any BTS tune earlier than, Dynamite has but to grate, and is a reminder of how a lot the band has grown into worldwide superstars.
In a time the place deluxe editions, added tracks and collaborations are par for the course, BTS’s tightly packaged albums are an anomaly, with its seven tracks and a skit coming in at simply 28 minutes. Is it sufficient for the ARMY? Effectively, whereas we’re positive they’d welcome a 4 hour extravaganza from BTS, it doesn’t really feel rushed or like a cop out. BE is extra like a properly curated tasting menu of BTS’s abilities – showcasing their progress, emotional vulnerability, subunits and data of tendencies and music historical past with out packing on filler.
It is perhaps thinner on the dramatic bangers than Map Of The Soul: 7 and it doesn’t break the mould, however BE is a reminder that in the case of manufacturing, power and openness with followers, BTS are the band to beat.