Album Reviews

[Review] BTS; Love Yourself: Tear

Two days ago, May 18, BTS released their third Korean studio album, Love Yourself: Tear.

Actually, Love Yourself: Tear was first announced on April 14, 2018, following the release of a nine-minute short film entitled “Euphoria: Theme of Love Yourself 起 Wonder” on April 5 so we can definitely say that I was waiting for that moment for almost a month.

As soon as I could, I bought the digital edition of this album so my review will only be about this edition.

Quick Notes

Released: May 18, 2018
Genre: Hip Hop, Alt-R&B, EDM
Lenght: 49:59
Language: Korean
Label: Big Hit Entertainment, IRIVER
Producer: Pdogg
Where To Buy: Here (Amazon, $19.99) and here (CD+Photobook+Mini Book+Photocard+Standing Photo+Folded Poster+Free Gift, Amazon, $28.99).

Tracklist

 Intro: Singularity

Instrumental: Very minimalistic, which helps deliver the message of the song and increases focus on the delivery of it. It’s a pretty experimental mix between R&B and Jazz/Soul. The bass guitar is monotone and creates a very haunting atmosphere.

The song is a bit too slow for my personal tastes, I prefer more song like Blood, Sweat & Tears and Not Today, I don’t know if I explain properly. But even so, there’s no doubt that the production and composing of this song is stellar. Even if the song doesn’t particularly suit my own personal tastes, it’s a very interesting, experimental, atmospheric and refreshing piece, which I really appreciate. And I don’t think I’ll feel like skipping it when playing the album.

Lyrics: The song is filled with beautiful metaphors and interesting imagery meant to represent pain, hardships, and the struggle of remaining true to oneself like:

So I can definitely say that the lyrics are very poetic, interesting and emotional. Namjoon wrote the lyrics of this song, and if you’ve been following BTS for a while, you know that he has been struggling with finding his personal identity so this song both feel like a stand-alone look into the members’ personal thoughts. The lyrics are very well written and moved me personally.

Singing style: His airy singing style makes the delivery sound pretty raw, emotional and sensual, which is a cool contrast to the haunting elements in the instrumental. His singing is almost like a whisper, which helps carry the message and lyrics across. That’s something that requires a lot of control and much more breath support. So this is a very impressive stylistic singing choice for this song.

With his deep baritone voice, Taehyung has one of the more unique male voices in kpop, and in this song, he’s allowed to showcase its fascinatingly deep and soulful timbre, which he usually doesn’t get to do on BTS songs. I absolutely love the vocal melody in the chorus, where he raises his pitch and volume, contrasting the quiet and low pitched delivery of the rest of the song. That’s my favorite part of the song. Very good performance!

Overall: 4/5


 FAKE LOVE

Instrumental: That are no doubts that BTS has one of the most interesting instrumental repertoires and that’s one of the reasons I love their music so much.This track, just like many of their other tracks, also manages to blow me away instrumentally. It’s experimental and fresh with it’s grunge guitar + hip hop + edm + trap mix. There are so many production elements to this song, I don’t even know where to start. It’s a massive production, with a lot of detailed layers.

The track has a pretty guitar-heavy sound that really stands out and is vital to the melody. The guitar you hear in the verses is quite mellow, melodic and catchy, but also slightly fuzzy which  gives it that grunge sound.

The song does a fabulous job at building the intensity of the song, by gradually adding more and more sound layers in the verses, which then culminates with the electric drum drop into the chorus. The edm bass during the chorus on this song is massive. It’s the kind that will rake through your body at a concert or club. I personally think that’s dope AF. During the chorus, a reverb heavy electronic guitar recording also kicks in, adding more of that distorted feeling, as well as an edginess to the edm.

All of the distorted elements combined with the very melodic elements, gives the song a very mellow and melancholic sound, while the edm and bass makes it possible for you to still get turned up.

It’s just beautiful.

Lyrics: I love the subject the lyrics concern themselves with. The song is about hiding your feelings and insecurities from someone, and thereby also hiding your true self, which will eventually doom the relationship. The lyrics during the verses honestly move me for some reason. I think what they’re saying is so true, and love really is a difficult and painful thing. Especially loving ourselves.

I love the usage and blending of English and Korean. The chorus lyrics are catchy and easy for anyone to understand. I think the English lyrics are very mature and tastefully done.

Singing style: They use a couple different rap styles here, but one thing’s for sure: it’s on fire. I love the way they weaved the rap and vocals in the verses, like a conversation.

And Jimin’s high pitched vocals… I’m screaming.

Following the current trends, they use autotune on both some of the vocals and rap to give the song a more electronic sound but I think I would have preferred the song without it.

That’s totally my jam.

Overall: 5/5


The Truth Untold (feat. Steve Aoki)

Instrumental: It starts off as a ballad. Very stripped-down song instrumentally, which puts focus on the lyrics and delivery. For 2/3 of the song, it’s basically just a raw acoustic piano recording with some added sound elements.

The acoustic piano, with all it’s distorted white noise, aided by the mentioned sound effects gives the song a sad and haunting sound. Then towards the end, the production takes off like crazy. First, a slow electric guitar layer and drums are added which expands the production and adds a sensual feel to the song. The tempo then suddenly rises and you think it’s the climax of the song, but BAM! The song increases in tempo and production once again right before the song ends. I’m personally not really into ballads, but the production and composing on this song are definitely good.

Lyrics: Crazy emotional and compliments the sad and haunting instrumental really well. The track focuses on personal insecurities, how much space they take up in our lives, and how we’re compelled to hide them, which makes us feel incredibly lonely. The lyrics are written from the perspective of someone who has gone through a break-up because of their own insecurities, and are now reflecting on their mistakes. The lyrics are incredibly poetic, with beautiful metaphors and imagery much like with Singularity.

Singing style: Only the vocal line features on this song. They do a good job of delivering the emotions of the song. The airy and light timbres of the tenors, suit the song really well. Beautiful vocals, Jin especially stands out for me on this one. They show more skill on this track, but once again, taking the autotune away would have made the delivery better for me, even though it’s not used a lot in this song.

Overall: 3/5


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Instrumental: A really interesting and funky song. I have a hard time pinpointing the genre mix, it’s kinda lo-fi hop hop + Jazz-funk + folk. It’s definitely really interesting and unexpected but I don’t fully connect with the instrumental. Once again, this is definitely a very smooth and versatile production. I’m in love with the funky bass in the background, I can’t help grooving along to it. I also love the reverb synth effects during the bridge, they’re really cool and adds a lot.

Lyrics: I guess it goes without saying, the lyrics are really pretty and poetic in it’s imagery, it’s BTS after all. This follows the same narrative about heartbreak and regret due to personal insecurities, that the previous songs focused on too. What I particularly love about the lyrics on this one, is the beautiful connection/parallels they draw between their own situation and Pluto’s nameless and thrown away fate. Pluto was also once considered a It’s really intelligent writing. Reminds me of Whalien 52, lyrically.

Singing style: I think both the vocalists and rappers sound really solid on this one. I also think the pitch here fits most of the vocalists a little better, since it’s a little lower. Jungkook’s smooth and very controlled vocals stand out for me on this one.

Overall: 3/5


Paradise

Instrumental: Now this instrumental is more up my alley. This genre is totally me. It’s a soulful r&b + hip hop + pop mix, with some real retro sounds. The bass line is really well made and funky. It’s a very pleasant song for easy listening and jamming out. It mixes its very funky beat and melody with beautiful xylophone synth sounds and trap-like guiro effects.

Lyrics: We revisit an old well known lyrical theme of BTS’ here. The members talk about how it’s ok and natural to not have any big dreams in life. That it’s ok to not know who you are or what you want in life. They criticize the neo-liberal mindset that we should all dream big, since we have the means to do so nowadays, because that leads to a life and a society that’s focused more on competition than happiness. Beautiful and well-written lyrical content.

Singing style: I love the vocal melody, it’s got a lot of bounce to it due to the chopped-up syllable emphasized singing, which fits perfectly with the bass line. The background adlibs add a beautiful sultry sound. The anthem part is a killer too. I love that they’ve added harmonization to that part. The vocalists sound very strong on this one and the rapline does a really great job too.

Overall: 3/5


Love Maze

Instrumental: Another song, that’s right up mu alley genre wisely. It’s a urban trap + modern trap + R&B mix. This track also has quite a few retro sounds in it, reminiscent of the type of R&B you’d hear in the 90s. Love the acoustic electric guitar and synth drums that make up the beat. It’s another easy-listening song with a lot of groove, similar to Paradise, but it still has a lot of intriguing elements. It has this really interesting distorted harmonica sound accompanying the verses in the background, and a high-strung synth that kinda mimics a string instrument, which makes up the main instrumental melody in the chorus and the interlude. The synth has a really interesting sound and melody, it almost sounds like a gayageum. Really cool. An organ like sound also makes its presence towards the end of the song. Another amazing, pleasant, and interesting instrumental production.

Lyrics: This song illustrates love as a complex maze, where you need to make a lot of tough choices. You start on opposite ends, and finding each other is difficult AF. The end destination is to exit the maze together, but you can only make it out with help and support of each other. It’s a beautiful metaphor, but I’m not too big on love songs.

Singing style: Vocals are slaying on this tracks. There’s a lot of variety in the vocal melody. The vocalists airy singing style suits R&B tracks perfectly, so this song is a perfect fit for them. They go for slightly higher ranges here, but make them sound effortless. Jungkook and Jin sound especially great on this track. The rappers create a nice contrast to the soft and sultry vocals, and they also showcase a lot of skill with their mid-verse changes in rap tempo and rhythm.

Overall: 4/5


Magic Shop

Instrumental: This is one of the stand-out songs on the album to me. The instrumental is so so good. It’s an edm + electropop + future bass mix. But the EDM isn’t really overpowering, there’s a lot of softness to the instrumental. The synthesized glass harp sound, that’s been very popular globally, is the main interest driving element in the instrumental. It gives the song a haunting sound. It is constantly present in the song, except the bridge, but its scale melody changes between verses and chorus, which makes it feel less repetitive or tiring.

The verses are beautiful and simple – just the melodic glass harp synth and some synth percussion to create a beat. But then the pre-chorus slowly builds tension in the song, with the addition of some bass, electric guitar and faster percussion. The chorus introduces some of the classic future bass elements. It’s beautiful and somewhat understated, which helps give the song a climax, while still keeping it chill sounding. The bridge almost turns acoustic, and the sudden space left in the song is really pleasant and allows a lot of space for the vocals. But then it builds up to the climax with a sick bass recording that increases in intensity. My only real critique I have of the instrumental, is that I find the during the alien-sounding synth during the bridge drop a little too loud and jarring. But a really impressive production all in all.

Lyrics: This is another fan song, reminiscent of 2!3!. The song tells us that everything will become ok. They’re sharing their personal struggles and promising, that if we show them our true selves, they’ll show us theirs. So we can all take of our “masks” and be true to ourselves. It’s really cute, and as a fan I love it, but objectively speaking I think others might think it’s a little cheesy?

Singing style: Ok I’m blown away by the vocals here. Like legit, what did they eat before singing this song? Jimin stands out, his belted notes sound really good and strong in this pitch. Jin too, he sounds good in his belted high notes. Some of the best vocal moments on the entire album are given to us in this track. The rap also has a little more fire to it here, than in some of the other songs. Suga especially delivers a strong rap. The vocal melody during the chorus is catchy and the anthem-like choir towards the end emphasizes the “come-together” feeling of the lyrics. Really really good job from everyone.

Overall: 4/5


Airplane pt. 2

Instrumental: This is probably the biggest surprise on the album. BTS doing latin pop/bachata? Who would’ve thought? They kill it tho. The song is very catchy from beginning to end. The instrumental has plenty of sultry groove and sass, without it loosing the edginess that we associate with BTS. It achieves that with deep bass synths and a few trap elements.

Lyrics: They talk about their honest emotions, ups and downs during their 2017 world tour. Maybe not the most stimulating lyrical content upon first glance, but it’s written very well and you can feel their sincerity about their own insecurities, and just wanting to sing and perform. As a fan, it can’t help but touch me a little.

Singing style: Both the vocals and rappers do a great job here. Rappers go a little harder and faster, while the vocalists show us a little more of their skills. The airy singing style of the 4 vocalists also fit perfectly with the sultry vibe of the song. I like all the layers of vocals on this track – harmonizing, adlibs etc. There’s plenty of them, and they all sound nice. They definitely help elevate the song, and give it a more sensual feeling. Jimin, in particular, is like made for this genre. It’s crazy how well his adlibs and lines work in this. Also, I’m pretty sure the moaning recordings on the track is him… I guess when you think about it, it makes sense that Stripper Jimin would do well with a sexy genre. Really great delivery through and through.

Overall: 5/5

MV REVIEW

This MV is full of dynamic imagery — there’s no time to be bored as the scenes change at a breakneck pace, showing you one epic shot after another. You’ve got boys sitting alone in shafts of light, and towards the end, it all seems to be flood-related, as water spills out from grates in the wall to gouts of fire engulfing another band member. And there’s the dancing.

The dancing — what can be said that hasn’t already? These boys know how to bring it and move with a power and intensity rarely seen these days. They also are synchronized with machine-like precision, and this just adds to the arresting nature of this MV.

There’s no girls in this, no shadow of a love interest or anything like that. Just shot after awe-inspiring shot of the boys, filmed in various poses and featuring those amazing confident moves of theirs. There’s no question that this MV is full-on fantastic.