Breaking records yet again with The War, EXO had the highest amount of pre-orders for a K-pop album in history (which I think got beaten by BTS shortly after, but that’s not the point). To make things short, this particular comeback was immensely successful, and ALL of the songs on the album are still in the top 100 on Korean charts as I am writing this. In order to keep up with the momentum, SM Entertainment has released a repackaged album titled The War: The Power of Music. Complementing the sultry summer theme of the original version of The War, this repackage goes retro with simple but fun tunes that will make your day.
(On a side note, the design of the physical album is extremely cool. It looks like a comic book, and even has trading cards to accompany it. I am trying my best to get it!)
The new songs on The War: The Power of Music are arguably even better than the songs on the original version. Most of the original songs have an immediate impact with their extravagant, lavish beats, which can put the listener off. In comparison, the new songs slowly lure you in with their mystic charm, and those are the kind of the songs that stick in your head longer. The only complaint I have is that there should have been more songs in the repackaged album, but honestly even I myself think that that is too much to ask for.
(Another note: I am only going to review the 3 new songs because of time constraint. If I have time, I might consider reviewing the 9 original songs on the album.)
Power is, to be concise, powerful. I consider Ko Ko Bop, the title track for the original version of the album, to be a hot mess of EDM and reggae. Arguably one of their worst title tracks; they got the mood right, but the cohesion of the song is practically non-existent. Because of this, I perceive Power to be paradise to my ears. Unlike Ko Ko Bop, each element of this song is cohesive and blends together nicely. There is an infectious energy to this, and instantly gets you dancing, which makes sense considering that this is meant to be a retro dance track. The distorted electronic sounds that are what constitutes most of the melody are modern yet familiar of dance songs. Also, I find the meaning of the song to be rather important, which is that music is the universal language, connecting people across the world! Considering that people can have hatred for one another solely because of race, culture, or other trivial things, this is a touching message that should be brought across more often (huge bonus points for that!). A funky beat, a catchy chorus and a critical message are what makes Power one of the best EXO songs yet. It has definitely exceeded my expectations.
I have seen quite recently that people have been lauding Sweet Lies as EXO’s best B-side so far. And I do agree to a certain extent. Minimalist and simple, it has a very bare melody that is strangely attractive. On first listen, I wasn’t really that into the song, as it came as a song significantly slower than Power, but as I listened to it over and over again, I became more amazed at how sensual it is. It’s not the in-your-face kind of sensual, but it is more of an underlying tone within the song. The high notes that the vocalists of EXO made towards the end (particularly D.O.‘s) were truly spectacular and are a fitting climax for this sultry tune. The only negative criticism I have is that it relies almost entirely on the potent of their vocals, which might not end up well if the song structure is bad. However, I will definitely come back to this song over and over again.
Boomerang is a stylish R&B ditty that is redolent of the 90s and early 2000s in music. There is an ominous atmosphere to it, almost melancholic, but it is too fast for it to be deemed melancholic. If I were compared the energy of this song to the other two songs, this would be in the middle. It’s faster than Sweet Lies and at the same time slower than Power. If medium-paced songs are your thing, then this might just be your cup of tea. However, this song doesn’t instantly capture your attention unlike the previously mentioned two, and it has a song structure that takes quite a while to get used to, so this pales in comparison. But it’s still good at the end of the day.
The War: The Power of Music is a strong and memorable addition to EXO’s discography. I would probably be addicted to the 3 new songs soon. And I would like to give huge credit to LDN Noise, who are the masterminds behind Power. They have brought their expertise in the EDM genre into the K-pop industry, working with many artists (mostly those under SM Entertainment) such as Red Velvet, Shinee, f(x), and even solo artists like Taeyeon. Their collaboration with EXO in this album is no exception in terms of its excellence.
Overall rating: 8.5/10
What’s extremely hot: Power
What’s hot: Sweet Lies, Boomerang