When we’re talking about the connoisseurs of Kpop as we know it, one name that comes immediately to mind is TVXQ! Not only were they one of the first Korean idol groups to really conquer Japan, but their influence largely looms over much of what we see today. And although I’ve loved almost every single release from both their five member and two member configurations, their post military releases have not been their greatest. However, last years daring Japanese album ‘XV’ alongside U-knows fantastic ‘True Colors’ project pointed towards some of the sounds that made the groups older work so great. This extends to Max (Changmin)’s Chocolate, which has got to be one of the weirdest k-pop singles we’ve heard all year.
Produced by legendary producers Yoo Young Jin and Thomas Troelsen (who were also responsible for U-know’s Follow), Chocolate is a Max song through and through. Opening with an incredibly unique soaring vocal hook, Chocolate quickly shifts into its more restrained verses. I adore the dark, low bass here as it adds a sense of unfamiliarity and edge to a track that already feels incredibly experimental. It’s an ideal playground for Max’s snarky vocals, as they shift from the powerful and deep opening segment to more restrained and attitude infused delivery. Things however rev up immensely for the very TVXQ! pre-chorus, which provides an incredible build as well as a wonderful showcase for Max’s resounding vocals.
This brings to me to the tracks hook, which much like (G)-idle’s latest single, feels way too under developed to really act as a notable centrepiece. However, I actually think it works better here than it did in Oh my god. The scruffy, minimalistic drop works mostly thanks to its embrace of a more unique soundscape, and one that I think was an interesting production choice. While I would have preferred a knockout hook like the one that anchored U-know’s Follow, it isn’t long before Chocolate launches back into its hypnotic verses. In fact, other than the hook every other aspect of the track is incredibly addictive. The fantastic bridge is a great example of this, providing an excellent series of powerful hooks before that bombastic pre-chorus slams back in. It’s a track that expertly showcases Max’s talent as both a performer and vocalist and one that pretty much accomplished everything it set out to do.
Now bring on that epic TVXQ! comeback I’ve been waiting for since 2018.
Final Rating: 8.25 / 10