[Album Review] Don’t Mess Up My Tempo (5th Studio Album) – EXO

EXO has returned with their 5th studio album last week, titled as Don’t Mess Up My Tempo. Their lead title track was definitely a rollercoaster of sounds and tempos and it is titled as simply Tempo (link below). Today, the focus is on their album and can I begin by saying how impressed with every song on this album? So without any more delays, here are my thoughts on the album.

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Don’t Mess Up With My Tempo Album Cover

1..Tempo (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Tempo. (8/10)

2. Sign – When you listen to both Tempo and Sign side-by-side, Sign is the better choice for the title track. Firstly, it doesn’t feel erratic. Secondly, the autotune section that follows the chorus was done wonderfully. It gave the song an intriguing factor while being an excellent addition of texture, which made me like it. While it does feel a little more mainstream, it is a solid track from start to end. Amazing vocals and raps (though I will admit that I prefer the rap sequences from Tempo) were also included in this song. The instrumental was intense and fell on the R&B scale, while also containing a mixture of synths of dubstep and other EDM. It was a great song. (9/10)

3. Ooh La La La (닿은 순간)Ooh La La La seems to be EXO’s answer to the ongoing Latin trend that has hit KPOP and SM Entertainment as well. And it is not that bad. The song is a lot softer than their other songs (or any of the Latin-influenced songs that we have heard), giving us some relief to the intensity of this album. I really liked the vocals in this song. They were husky and low, which was something different for the group. The harmonies throughout the song (in particular the chorus) were perfect and it made the song flow effortless. There wasn’t rapping in this song, which I was kind of expecting. I am not too troubled by this as the vocals were on point. (8/10)

4. Gravity – The start of Gravity reminded me of Power for a brief second. But the song is not like Power at all. It has a dance techno instrumental which I thought was refined. I would have described the song as smooth but we lost that smoothness factor as the song went along. The vocals matched the song perfectly. They made the song feel cohesive and stand out for all the right reasons. What I loved about the song even more is the presence of the raps, which fits the bill well. They kicked the song up a notch and made the song feel right for a club setting. (9/10)

5. With You (가끔) – I think I found one of the most beautiful songs on the album. It starts off off-tuned, which I thought was going to be mean an awful track. But I was genuinely surprised with the direction the song took. The vocals (which added the beautiful factor to the song) took a soft ballad approach, yet the instrumental was fast tempo dance vibe. This is a very interesting combination. And I would not have expected it to work. Yet it does, and I can’t help stopping but marvel at this song. I really liked the continuous build-up in the first verse, which must be my favourite pick for inclination in any song. The rapping was nice but not their best on this album. (9/10)

6. 24/7 – It started off as another song. The whistling at the start was intriguing yet I lost interest in the song somewhere in the first verse. When the chorus kicked in, there was more than a kick to the song. I would like to describe it as more of a subtle explosion. It got my attention back to the song. As the song went along, there was a gradual build-up in the intensity of the song, which made it bold and appealing. The vocals were soft yet husky at points, which I think really gave the song some character and body. I prefer the final chorus as this is when the song full reaches its peak and doesn’t feel in any way related to how it started, yet still managing to remain true to the song’s roots. (9.5/10)

7. Bad Dream (후폭풍) – I like the way the song sounds but I can’t really figure out a way to describe the song to show this. I personally felt the instrumental could have been more interesting and developed a little more. The instrumental felt jazzy and R&B-ish, mixed nicely with some house. But it felt plain and didn’t really stand out. Same can be said for the vocals and raps. Yet when I listen to the song, I can’t help but groove along. I think a good comparison would have to be The Eve, as I can imagine the group going down a sexy route with this performance. (8/10)

8. Damage – When the song first started, it felt like something you would have gotten back in the day in KPOP. Chanyeol’s raps start the song off in a really pumped-up manner and this momentum continued into the vocals. The chorus was quite epic with a dramatic movie sound to it. I really liked how they incorporated classical instruments into the intense instrumental, particularly in the second verse, which basically a dream for someone who enjoys an orchestral piece. The bridge takes on a classical feel, stripping away the dramatic vibes of the song, which was a nice contrast. Sehun’s responsibility of saying E.X.O reappeared in this song, paying a nice throwback to EXO’s younger days. Altogether, I liked the song. (9/10)

9. Smile On My Face (여기 있을게) – Doing a complete 180° on the album is Smile On My Face, which is a pretty nice ballad. It showcased the vocals of the group and gave us an opportunity to focus on a softer side of the group before we end the album. There were no raps in this song, but I kind of expected given the ballad nature. It isn’t technically a stand out song on the album. It felt like it was there to give us a chance to catch our breathes from enjoying the more intense and dance-based tracks on the album. I like the melody and the swaying nature of the instrumental (which earns a tick from me!). (7.5/10)

10. Oasis (오아시스) – This was a nice closer for the album. There was a very certain level of hope which you could feel in the way the song sounds, which makes sense given the lyrics’ meaning. Vocally, there were many nice moments that make you feel warm and fuzzy. I think this track would have nice to listen during a walk on a nice warm day with blue skies. A cool breeze would make it even more exceptional. I would have expected some rapping in the song, to give the rappers a chance to feature in the closing of the album. But that could have easily changed the dynamic of the song. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

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Don’t Mess Up My Tempo Teaser Image

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