Love Yourself: Tear
And so K-pop finally did it – blasting its way to the top of the elusive American music charts. But is the historic success of BTS merely a construct of feverish fan reception?
Soul-baring intro Singularity immediately dispels detractors. Vocalist V is all mysteriously husky as he croons over a smooth R&B-esque melody. The track is a 180° swerve from the group’s usual frenetic fares. Its addition to the 11-track collection is proof that the boys of BTS are no one-trick ponies.
As a whole, Love Yourself: Tear feels more cohesive compared to its predecessor Love Yourself: Her. But part of that is probably because the tracks here play like proper K-pop instead of the current trend of Westernised K-pop, especially lead single Fake Love, with all its explosive hook-heavy glory.
The BTS boys are not dumbing down their music to fit an international palate. Instead it’s forcing the charts to conform to the eccentricity of the genre.
That in itself feels especially momentous for K-pop fans.
There’s a more obvious maturity here: both thematically and sonically. Delving into the messages of grief and separation, Love Yourself: Tear excels when it does the unexpected.
The reunion with prolific DJ Steve Aoki on The Truth Untold churns out a ponderous ballad instead of the usual EDM fare.
The bossa nova-tinged 134340, which follows next, keeps things fresh.
Elsewhere, the seductive Paradise and honeyed Magic Shop show that the heartthrobs are on track to becoming heart-breakers.
For the most part, the record reins in the euphoric beats. That move does make for a more sombre listening experience, but hey, whatever drives the message forward, right?