Released: October 10, 2016
BTS’ debut 2014 studio album Dark & Wild served a collection of gritty urban and electronic-influenced tracks that, to an extent, is probably one of the most unpolished and intoxicating releases from the mother land of K-Pop in a long time. Very rare to catch a glimpse of those traits these days, considering that K-Pop endures on sugar-coated production, with extremely well-performed vocals and edgy, colourful, and over-the-top haute couture fashion (a bit of a stretch, I know). Unlike their superlative, such as Big Bang and Exo, to name a few, BTS aren’t afraid to get a bit dirty and challenging, especially when it’s presented in majority of their debut work and subsequent releases.
So, there lies the question; does the group’s subsequent release, October’s Wings, follow-up on their debut work? Well, as a package, not completely. The different between this and Dark & Wild is that Wings is slightly inconsistent. You get the general pop entries, like the dope “Begin”, the intriguing K-Pop entry “Blood Sweat and Tears”, and the happy-yet-sad “Lost”, all flowing into the formula of your typical K-Pop sound. Then you get the rap-inspired ballads, especially threw the raw confessions of “First Love”, a bit of classic The Weeknd-influenced numbers like the jazzy “Stigma”, and the retro funk beats in “Mama”. This phenomenon of mixed genres and sounds isn’t really that surprising, considering K-Pop acts have dug a lot deeper with blending too many sounds into one album.
But weirdly enough, even though it’s not the same cold flavour or formula as Dark & Wild, the entries on Wings work extremely well and, because of the boys harmonizing vocals and complimentary sounds and diverse themes present in its lyrics, the record doesn’t have any boring, unoriginal or silly moments. However, the only issue present here is that the dudes sound like they don’t know exactly when to stop, particularly towards the end of the record. “BTS Cypher 4”, a try-hard hip-hop rump that boasts some bland rapping and narcissistic lyrics are quite embarrassing, or even the introduction and interludes of the album seem a bit flat. But whilst the soulful “Refection” and “Awake” may sound like an attempt to still run through its realm of your typical K-Pop boy band, the guys still add some extra originality and chill-out sound through its composition, which all fits well.
Of course, as you may have enjoyed Dark & Wild for its raw, unpolished and gritty vibe and beats, it’s not exactly replicated in Wings. However, what Wings does offer is yet a more mature, slicker and catchier extension of their debut. The record is packed with some raw and honest moments, but the overall package works exceptionally well with its EDM-influenced sound, strong vocal performances and addicting hooks. Definitely worth a few spins to say the least (knowing that the record has already gotten a HUGE dominating attempt throughout international markets, it’s bound to be quite an iconic K-Pop surprise).
Track list (Bold means best tracks)
- Intro: Boy Meets Evil
- Blood Sweat & Tears
- Stigma ~Liam’s favorite~
- First Love
- BTS Cypher Pt. 4
- Am I Wrong
- 21st Century Girls
- Two! Three! Still Wishing There Will Be Better Days
- Interlude: Wings