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Album Review

Album Review: Our Top 3 Tracks From BTS' EP 'Love Yourself: Her'

By  October 5, 2017

BTS’ latest EP Love Yourself 承 'Her' marks the beginning of their Love Yourself album series that’s based on Kishōtenketsu (起承転結)- the four-act structure of classic East Asian narratives. ‘Her’ signifies the ‘development’ (shō) of the story, a prelude to the eventual 'twist' (ten). The EP's urban pop numbers center around young adults falling in love, but there’s a visible storm brewing in the distance if you squint in between the lines.

Although BTS displays excellent commitment to their thematic ideas, the EP doesn’t stand out as a very strong release- sonically, their style has changed, but it hasn't evolved. BTS has always capitalized on global chart trends, but they approached those well-known sounds from fresh angles and dimensions. The songs in Love Yourself 承 'Her' dive further into radio-friendliness without retaining the edges that made BTS exciting to begin with: The Chainsmokers collab Best of Me falters with its uninspired chord progression and lukewarm drop; Dimple captures the giddy rush of infatuation but lacks a personality; Go Go’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics are marred by a beat that sounds like a generic Shape of You hip hop remix.   

Nevertheless, the EP isn’t without its share of noteworthy tracks. Here are our top 3 picks: 

 

1. Pied Piper

Referencing The Pied Piper of Hamelin, BTS sings about obsessive love in fan culture. The production here glistens as the disco chords, funky Nile Rodgers-esque guitar strokes and soulful vocoded harmonies evoke a (deceptively) breezy atmosphere. Like a schoolteacher, rapper Rap Monster chides his fans for neglecting their own lives. It’s the only hit of reality we receive before it gets swept away into a twinkling mirage of synths and a sweet falsetto chorus. BTS play the villainous seducers for the rest of the song alongside the central metaphor- a mesmeric synth ostinato that flits in and out of focus but never departs. In the lush swoon of a bridge, Jimin and Jungkook’s breathy voices drip with honeyed poison, the lines “If perhaps I/ Am destroying you/ Will you forgive me?” are delivered with such doe-eyed sincerity that it makes you forget the rhetorical nature of the question. The interplay between the song’s buoyant groove and its darker subject matter is what takes it all to another level: like the root of an obsession, you don’t realize how innocuously it lodges under your skin.

 

 

2. MIC Drop

This gritty punkish trap banger is your classic screw-the-haters anthem- an art form that BTS has become well adept at. The opening metal guitar distortion is an instant back-straightener, but nothing prepares us for that straight up dirty bassline. Its menace is amplified through the rappers’ deliveries: J-Hope’s staccato flow jabs each note and syllable with the muted precision of an assault sniper, Suga coolly surfs the beat with sardonic apologies and a smirk in his voice, Rap Monster dials up the intensity with his stentorian spitting and trap vocal inflections. The Autotuned taunts over piercing synth wails stir up a commotion that might be a little too in-your-face for some, except that it’s exactly what a song like this aims to do, and BTS makes all the ruckus sound like a party. Their live performance of the song says it all, better than we ever can.

 

 

3. Outro: Her

The melancholic old school hip hop beat recalls 90s East Coast boom bap and feels like a change of pace after the high of love songs and hype tracks- we can’t help but feel the nostalgia rise in our throats. Over jazzy Rhodes piano chords that exhale warmth and longing, BTS’ rappers lay out pensive passages on their need to compromise their identities for their loved ones. By engaging with the complex side of love, the outro peeks beneath the luster of the EP and alludes to the next chapter ahead. It’s a track that’s both light and heavy, calm and restless- a soundtrack for broody bus rides home as the day draws to a close.

 

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What are your top 3 songs from this EP? 

Photo Credit: Big Hit Entertainment

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