BTS have produced a assured lockdown album (Image: Massive 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 is going to be a tonic for the ARMY after a troublesome 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 sport of two halves – an inward have 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 via these robust instances. What may have been a typical 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 enhance, monitor three Blue & Gray is a extra private tackle the pandemic, with the chorus ‘I simply need 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 shall 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 could seem to be a typical ballad, it acts as a 2020 time capsule and can seemingly 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 largest band on this planet to deal with nervousness and melancholy 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 concentrate on the boys being trapped of their rooms and battling 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 truth, I’d go so far as to say Telepathy is one in all BTS’s strongest dancefloor tracks thus far. Sounding like a extra retro accompaniment to Vacation by Little Combine, the post-skit (solely BTS would come with a skit about their Sizzling 100 rating smack bang in the midst of a half hour album) banger instantly boosts the vitality of the report. Whereas album nearer Dynamite would 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 submit 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 unquestionably the very best level of BE, a double hit of the vitality BTS are so recognized 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 high quality segue into Dynamite, however much less authentic 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 the rest.
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 things 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? Properly, whereas we’re certain 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 effectively curated tasting menu of BTS’s skills – showcasing their development, emotional vulnerability, subunits and information of tendencies and music historical past with out packing on filler.
It is likely to be thinner on the dramatic bangers than Map Of The Soul: 7 and it doesn’t break the mould, however BE is a reminder that on the subject of manufacturing, vitality and openness with followers, BTS are the band to beat.