By Caristia Villanueva
Released on November 2nd, South Korean and Chinese boyband, EXO, has returned to the music scene with their fifth album, Don’t Mess Up My Tempo, after over a year of hiatus. They have already broken records with the album surpassing 1 million pre-orders, making this album EXO’s fifth million sellers and earning them the ‘Quintuple Million Seller’ title. This album also marks the return of Chinese member Lay, who was unable to participate in the previous album. He can be seen in both Korean and Chinese music video, but his vocals are only featured in the Chinese version.
Their title track ‘Tempo’ released both in Korean and Chinese is a fusion of old-school hip-hop and dance that catches the audience’s attention and keeps them on their feet. Along with the addicting chorus and impressive verses which allowed the rappers Chanyeol and Sehun to shine, EXO has once again proven their immense vocal ability all throughout the song. They continue to surprise the listeners with brave directions and unexpected turns, from the electro, double-time chorus to the unexpected yet marvellously done acapella in the bridge which was carried out by Suho’s soft vocals at the forefront along with the rest of the member’s harmonies. The song is overall a joyride, much fitting to their music video and shows the public that EXO has returned with a brand-new era.
The album within itself is cohesive yet each song is still different from each other, ranging from songs such as Ooh La La La which has a soft Latin flair to it to Sign which is a song more heavily electronic and dubstep influenced. Each song presents its own vibe, but it never clashes with the other so listening to this album from start to finish is refreshing but not too overwhelming.
Not only are each song impressively produced, but their concept of each song linking to each member’s superpower, a concept which they’ve had since debut and continue to dedicate to, highlights each of the song’s lyrics and brings it to the forefront. With songs such as Oasis and its lyrics ‘with this burning thirst, we’ll go further’and ‘past this red desert, we find the oasis’, this obviously highlights Suho’s power to control water and gives a nice touch to each song. It also allows the fans to feel nostalgic as each member recollects their powers to which they had since debut and connect it to their new songs.
Don’t Mess Up My Tempo is overall an album of well-produced songs and has ticked all the checklist of what makes a pop song good, with their catchy hooks, amazing vocals and strong rapping, it’s no wonder that EXO continues to gain success. Their constant experimentation means you’re never going to hear a song similar to their previous ones, yet they still have a style that continues to flow through in each album so whenever you hear a song, you’ll instantly know that it’s EXO. Being a seven-year-old group, it’s easy to get stuck in the middle of producing new music or keeping their old style, but as always, EXO has managed to outrun that problem and release new music that fits their style perfectly.