Note: The first part of this review is for the original release, The War. For what we thought about the new repackaged edition tracks, skip down to the bottom.
While we are not feeling this one as much as Ex’act/Lotto, but we like this nonetheless.
If there is one thing about this album that standout immediately upon listening is that Ko Ko Bop, the lead single, is an absolute outlier in terms of the sound. They utilize the increasingly popular island sound for that track, but that particular style appears nowhere else on the album. In fact, the major cohesive style that floats throughout is more of a throwback feel, similar to EXO-CBX, but with a lot more modern EDM and trap elements to keep it from slipping too far into nostalgia.
The vocals on the set are solid, with the harmonies and leads on the Korean version being just a slight notch above those of the Chinese version. There is enough similarity between the two that, if you aren’t fluent in either language, you can enjoy both without any major complaints about what is missing.
Part of the disparity between the two has to do with the number of voices in the perspective groups as Lay is completely absent from the comeback in all ways. That absence is notable when the high notes in some of the lead vocals where they just aren’t as crisp and full as they should be. It doesn’t make the album any less enjoyable, but the less dynamic range diversity is noticeable.
One thing that does seem to have continued is the improved lyrical content of the songs, although there seem to be some translation problems with a few of the Chinese songs. Those problems are nowhere near as big as they were in the early days of EXO, where the Chinese versions were near gobbledygook, but it is a difference between this and the previous album.
All in all, this album is good, but not as memorable as a total package like El Dorado was. Everyone will have their favorite track(s) that they will play from here on out, but this is not going to be the big example of what EXO, as artists, are capable of.
Our favorite tracks are What U Do?, Touch It, and Going Crazy. The most skippable track is Forever.
Update: After listening to the three new songs, it is very obvious that EXO LED WITH THE WRONG TRACK!!! Sweet Lies is the clear standout in this new set with Boomerang bringing up a close second. They are two very different sounds for the group, Sweet Lies being a sexy R&B slow jam and Boomerang being a mid-tempo throwback bop, but they highlight their voices well. These tracks are fairly distinct and really make you sit up and listen (before hitting the sheets or the dancefloor).
Power, by contrast, is just an average EDM/pop track that doesn’t do anything to make itself stand out. It doesn’t feel like an EXO track and could have probably sung about the same by any group with passible vocals and average stage presence. It’s not an awful track by any means; it just isn’t that memorable.
We are adding both Sweet Lies and Boomerang to our favorite tracks list. Power gets added to the skippables.