Although I’ll primarily be reviewing singles, there are some albums that are too influential or strong to not cover. In this segment, I will be spotlighting those standout albums and giving my thoughts on each and every track
The most anticipated musical project of 2020, BTS’s Map Of The Soul:7 has already broken a number of records since its release almost 3 days ago. Though the album is essentially a repackage of last years fantastic MAP OF THE SOUL: Persona (bar 2 of that albums best tracks), it still features a whopping 13 new tracks. Though title track ON left my quite cold, I was quite optimistic going into this album. BTS have always been super solid with their albums, and I expected much the same from “7” despite the its lacklustre single and pre releases. And much like single, the album is a project that works in fits and starts, with some songs easily standing out, and others that fall towards lower end of the groups musical spectrum.
For the purpose of the review, I’ll be omitting the tracks that appeared on “Persona” and will only be focusing on the songs that are exclusive to “7”
6. Interlude: Shadow (Suga solo)
Easily one of the strongest hip-hop songs on the album, Interlude: Shadow utilises some dynamic production choices to elevate what could end up as just another basic trap laced production into something that’s much more invigorating. Though none of this would have worked nearly as well if it wasn’t for Suga’s effortless charisma and excellent delivery. The final 45 seconds however, do lean a little too heavily into the more unpleasant and grating areas of modern hip-hop.
7. Black Swan (Full Review)
8. Filter (Jimin solo)
The Latin inspired groove of Filter, in theory, should be right up my alley. But for some reason the track just doesn’t connect with me as much as I thought it would. Yes, Jimin sells the track with bucketloads of natural charisma and the hook is quite potent, but I cant help but feel that the song comes off as abit too inconsequential. I have would have enjoyed a little bit more experimentation and ambition (much like 2016’s Lie) but it’s still another solid track from Jimin, whose solo efforts have impressed me the most out of all the members.
9. My Time (Jungkook solo)
Although I love Jungkook’s vocal timbre, none of his solo projects, bar Euphoria have really done anything for me. This streak continues with the rather bland My Time, which coasts along on a languid trap assisted instrumental that pretty much goes nowhere. Although I’ve expressed my discontent towards the over abundance of trap in the music industry, It actually isn’t what bothers me the most about this song. To me My Time just comes off as soulless, moving forward without any real sense of conviction or drive. And in that sense, it’s one of the albums weaker tracks.
10. Louder Than Bombs
Co-produced and written by Australian singer songwriter Troye Sivan, Louder Than Bombs seems like a current fan favourite, although I’m not as blown away with it as many others seem to be. While it does feature a fantastic chorus, the verses don’t really don’t do much for me. They’re fine, but I can’t help but wonder how strong the track could have potentially been if that dynamite hook at the tracks core were to be supported with equally potent connecting tissue. But still, that chorus manages to just get it over the line.
11. ON (Full Review)
Ah yes, the standard BTS rap track. They’ve become a fan favourite, and for good reason. 2018’s Tear and the Cyphers that came before it were all phenomenal hip hop tracks that pounded forward with a sense of unrivalled energy and insanely clever wordplay. However, UGH! devolves into heavily processed vocal effects way too many times for me to fully enjoy the track. It’s evident that the bones of a fantastic track are there, especially in that intoxicating beat, but without enjoyable delivery, it all comes down to a less than inspiring listening experience.
13. 00:00 (Zero O’Clock)
A crooning mid tempo RnB track, 00:00 (Zero O’Clock) is one of the albums most laid back moments. And that’s totally fine, not every single song has to be a full on hype fest. In fact it actually reminds me of 2018’s Magic Shop, a song I absolutely adored. But alas, 00:00 (Zero O’Clock) doesn’t manage to feel as memorable as a track like Magic Shop. I primarily attribute this to the hook, which doesn’t offer the same punch, or staying power as some of the groups best work.
13. Inner Child (V solo)
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Inner Child is without a doubt one of the strongest songs on the album, powering forward with a soaring anthemic melody that ticks almost all my musical boxes. V has always been one of my favourite members, and his choice to tackle such a dynamic track is a treat in itself, and far from the sultry mid-tempo/jazz that we’re used to seeing from him. His husky, deep voice is unexpectedly potent here, providing the track with excellent texture and a larger than life appeal. If V were to ever embark on any solo activities, this is the type of solo music I would want from him on the daily.
14. Friends (V + Jimin)
Another fantastic pop song, Friends is one of the most effortlessly fun tracks on the album. This is the kind of melodic pop that I was missing from the entire first half of the album. The arrangement here is brilliant, setting up each chorus as its own mini climax, by infusing each pre-chorus with a cheering crowd of voices. But the track works especially well thanks to the perfect contrast between V’s husky and Jimin’s high tones, which together combine to form an excellent mix that elevates Friends into one of the albums easy standouts
15. Moon (Jin solo)
The last we heard from a Jin solo, was 2018’s deceptively simple, yet touching Epiphany. And while I did enjoy that track quite abit, it struck me almost immediately how well Jin’s voice would fit a more uptempo track. Thankfully my prayers were answered with Moon, which provides Jin with a track that melds addictive acoustic guitar with resounding percussion. It’s a total revelation, shining light on Jin’s rather potent vocals and give us another great pop song in the process.
16. Respect (Suga + RM)
Another fun track, Respect is the stronger of the two rap based tracks on the album. Though UGH! provided a more hard edged delivery, Respect paints rappers RM and Suga in a more fun loving, and novel light. This results in a track that’s much more self aware than any other on the tracklist, leading to some hilarious interactions between the rappers during the tracks run time. While it doesn’t possess melody that’s engaging enough for me to fully love the song, it’s really hard to hate the song after seeing how much fun the two are having.
17. We are Bulletproof: the Eternal
Just looking at the title, I went into We are Bulletproof: the Eternal expecting one of the most bombastic tracks of the year. So just imagine my shock when the track opened with a delicate piano riff. Though I was caught off guard at first, it only took a while for the track to completely blow me away. In essence, We are Bulletproof: the Eternal is basically an ode to both their fans and to BTS themselves. It’s one of the years most powerful tracks, carrying an unprecedented amount of emotional weight in its emotive synth pop brew. I’ve always wanted BTS to take full embrace of the synth pop genre, and We are Bulletproof: the Eternal proves that they one of those groups that pull of the sound better than almost anybody else. Easily the strongest track on the album, and would have been the perfect title track to mark the end of an era.
18. Outro: Ego (J-Hope solo) (Full Review)
*Updated rating: 7.75/10
Best Album Tracks
- We are Bulletproof: the Eternal
- Inner Child (V solo)
- Friends (V + Jimin)
- Moon (Jin solo)
Final Thoughts: Apart from a few strong tracks, “Map Of The Soul:7” falls short against some of BTS’s stronger efforts. The project would have been much stronger had the last 5 songs on the album been compiled into a seperate mini album. But as it stands, “7” consists of more lows than it does highs. However, most of the lows still fall within the “below average” band, hence boosting the rating of the album upto a solid:
Album Rating: B-