The band had teased the album with the release of "Intro: Singularity" — the first song on the album and introduction to the album's sadder and sexier themes — as compared to their previous album and comeback which was laced with pastel colors and a feel-good aesthetic.
Like the aesthetic of "Intro: Singularity", the album is full of references to masks, loneliness, and not knowing yourself. On the 11-track album, BTS offer tracks that are meant to comfort their fans, call out past lovers, take listeners around the world, and wonder what it really means to love yourself.
With each track bringing something different to the album, I thought it best to approach this review track-by-track:
As I touched on before, "Intro: Singularity" serves as an introduction to the album — encompassing and introducing many of the themes present throughout the album. Performed solely by member V (also known as Kim Taehyung), the song is about sacrificing parts of yourself for something that wasn't worthwhile and came back to hurt in the end. The music video is visually stunning and V's stunning vocals creating a haunting and unforgettable introduction.
"FAKE LOVE" is the second track on the album and serves as the album's first single. A song about changing yourself for a lover and coming to realize that they never loved you in the first place. The song also explores themes of not knowing oneself and losing oneself in love. The music video features breathtaking visuals and a continuation of the story and universe BTS has curated in their music videos since 2015. The music video has already broken multiple records, including scoring the highest 24-hour YouTube debut of 2018. The band also first performed "FAKE LOVE" on the Billboard Music Awards, the song's official global debut. The song is the perfect first single with its unique melody and explosive chorus.
BTS previously worked with American musician and DJ Steve Aoki on the remix of their song "MIC DROP", however, both artists show a very different and versatile side on this track whose title translates to "The Truth Untold". The song is a ballad performed by BTS' four vocalists Jungkook, Jimin, V, and Jin. The song is absolutely heartbreaking in every way with lyrics about loving someone, but being unable to show them your vulnerabilities. The phrase "But I still want you" haunts throughout the song and left me a crying mess when I first listened to this song. This collaborative track is certainly not something I would expect from either artist and shows both artist's versatility.
This track gets its title from Pluto's minor planet designation. The song's lyrics tell the story of being stuck on someone, even when you don't want to be. Not only is the song's plight extremely relatable, but also the story of Pluto that was declassified as a planet in 2006. The word Pluto can also be a verb that means "to demote or devalue something," much like how the narrator's lover does in the song. Many of BTS' fans probably remember Pluto's declassification, including me. Using that universal experience as a metaphor is genius and cements the band as a voice of their generation. The song itself is easy to listen to and features some cleverly conceived rap verses that feel conversational and illustrate the lover's hold on the narrator.
This track — which translates to "Paradise" — starts with an almost R&B smooth beat and Jungkook's vocals, but immediately once Jimin takes over vocals, a funky and synthesized beat takes over. The song's message is one BTS has previously championed, that of not having a dream. In the song, RM raps, "It’s alright if the name of the dream is different/Be it buying a laptop next month/Or just eating and sleeping/Not doing anything at all and still having a lot of money/Who says a dream must be something grand." Not only is this a message that young people can relate to, it is one they most likely need to hear. The song may not have the most danceable beat on the album, but it's lyrics and vocals stand out.
Member RM's favorite track on the album, Love Maze, channels the Greek myth of the Labyrinth and creates an adorable love song about helping each other through hard times. The song features some of the best vocals on the album and multiple runs I am envious of. This is an all around feel good song and one of the few songs that are optimistic about relationships on the album. I think "Love Maze" has single potential and is one of the best songs on the album.
One of my personal favorites on the album, "Magic Shop" is pretty much everything I've ever wanted in a song. With a slow beginning, the song builds toward the EDM-inspired chorus. The title comes from a psychodramatic technique that attempts to replace negative thoughts and fears with more positive thoughts. The song is dedicated to the band's fans and tells them, "While drinking a glass of hot tea/And looking up at the Milky Way/You’ll be alright, oh, this here is the Magic Shop". The song also continues to expand on and use space metaphors and assures fans. "I wanted to become your comfort and move your heart/I want to take away your sadness, and pain." Out of all the songs on the album, this song means the most to me and reminds me how much BTS understands and cares about their fans.
A continuation of member J-Hope's song, "Airplane" from his mixtape "Hope World" that was released earlier this year this song is very different from the first part. The song features a wind-your-waist beat characteristic of Latin music and blurs the line of the genre. The song's lyrics are about the band's frequent travel (much like the first part) and how they balance traveling and being a musician. "Airplane pt. 2" is probably the most innovative song on the album, incorporating three languages (Korean, English, and Spanish) and containing elements of countless genres. This song is truly ahead of its time and captures the worldly voice of a generation. It's a must listen.
Anpanman references a Japanese children's book character and anime of the same name. The whimsical reference and fun beat hides a song about insecurity and feeling unworthy. Anpanman is a superhero comprised of a bun with red bean paste (called "anpan" in Japanese), so the choice of the superhero as the basis of the song makes sense when the lyrics are examined. Regardless of its somewhat insecure message, the song is about reassuring oneself and building yourself up. It's a fun song and one that I feel will be a fan favorite.
Another personal favorite of mine this song is all about shouting "So What" at your worries and realizing most worries are not worth your time. The song is upbeat and extremely motivating with a good build. The song is certainly EDM-inspired like much of BTS' music. It is a song meant to build up its listener, something I can appreciate and celebrate. Member Jungkook mentioned in a Buzzfeed interview that this song was his favorite and I can certainly see why. It is probably the fastest song on the album, yet, ends on a slow note with violins in the background. "So What" follows many other similar dance songs the band has released on previous albums, but it does not disappoint.
While the vocalists got to showcase on "The Truth Untold", BTS' three rappers get to show off in "Outro: Tear". This is a scathing song about a break-up and saying goodbye. While the lyrics do call out their former lover, they also attempt to reconcile the break-up and the narrator's own conflicted feelings. Beyond the lyrics, each rapper's unique style is showcased and even a few rare vocals from the rappers. I was extremely impressed with this song and felt myself immediately connect with it. If you're someone who enjoys the rap genre, this is definitely the song for you. J-Hope's end rap and rushed breaths will leave you breathless as the album concludes.
"Love Yourself: Tear" has continued to solidify BTS as an innovative voice of this generation. One who comforts, speaks for and out for young people. The album certainly is comparable to their previous releases and in my opinion is one of the best albums of 2018 thus far.