[Album Review] Obsession (7th Studio Album) – EXO

EXO is nominated for Best Male Group, Best Music Video, Best Male Choreography. Baekhyun and Chen are nominated for Best New Male Solo, with the latter also nominated for Best Vocals. Finally, EXO-SC is nominated for Best Subunit. Click here to support EXO and its members in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. 

Despite being downgraded to 6 members due to military enlistment and Lay’s continuous Chinese promotions, EXO has remained strong through their latest promotions. The group returned with Obsession, the title to both their 7th studio album and title track. This is the group’s first comeback since their return at the end of last year with Love Shot (which is also eligible for Best Song of 2019 in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – see above paragraph). The group, however, has been active through individual and unit promotions. So let’s see what their comeback after a year offers.

Obsession Album Cover

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

2. TroubleTrouble features a slight reggae beat and mixes it with some trap elements, resulting in an epic vibe. This also got me intrigued, as it merges two styles that we often hear in KPOP into one and the combination does come off as unique. I liked their approach with the chorus, sounding anthem like. But the song did feel weighted. While this isn’t an issue for some songs, the weight in Trouble made it feel slightly sluggish and takes away the energy that the song could have potentially channeled. (8/10)

3. Jekyll (지킬) – I really liked how sleek the start to Jekyll sounded. It really sets the mood and tone of the track. The suspense it built was awesome and the members sounded really good. I just didn’t see the chorus coming. It continued that sleek sound, but the vocals opted for shouting and a rougher texture. This kind of makes sense, as the verses would represent the calmer Jekyll, while the chorus changes to a scarier tone, representing Dr. Hyde. Overall, another unique sound. (8/10)

4. Groove (춤)Groove is not what I had expected. It opts for a jazzy R&B number when we arrive at the chorus, whilst keeping it more R&B centred during the verses. There was also a sensual vibe to the song, which I thought the group nailed very well. Their vocal work was really good, with Chen’s vocals being a definite highlight. Chanyeol and Sehun’s rapping helped give the song some rhythm, I also loved the flute and how it transformed the song without going for an extreme change. (9/10)

5. Ya Ya YaYa Ya Ya had a good feel to it. It is a lot brighter in terms to sound and tone, when compared to the preceding tracks on the album so far. And I liked this energy, as a result. The vocals in the background were nice, giving the song’s already upbeat 90s influenced instrumentation. Their vocals were nice (once again) and the rapping had a good push to it. But I don’t think it is the most exciting track on the album. And that has stayed with me since my first listen to the album on the day after it was released. (7/10)

6. Baby You Are – I think the vocal work shined the brightest in Baby You Are. The harmonies were top-notch, and the chorus was very smooth. The vocal work was also very complimentary to the instrumental, which was funky and groovy. It just felt weighted. This time, I use this word in a more positive context, as this allowed the song to match with the more mature and serious sounds we have heard on the album thus far. I did think the song was rather fragile, but the rapping really gave this song some stability and that fragility that I felt was no longer present. (9.5/10)

7. Non Stop – For a second, the piano at the started sounded like Non Stop was going to be a ballad. But within a split second, the song transforms into a funky beat. I also love the retro vibe that the song throws in, thanks to the brass and percussion. The ‘Hey. A Little Bit of Love. My Love Non Stop’ line is amazingly catchy. I think the song could have went a little further, giving us a stronger chorus. But the hook that we got did enough and it is another great song. (8.5/10)

8. Day After Day (오늘도)Day After Day is another song that showcases the group’s vocals, singing over a simple instrumentation that opts for acoustic guitar to be the main centerpiece. The song has a nice melody. Given what EXO has showed us in the past, the song obviously sounds very nice and pleasant. However, it just doesn’t sound as amazing as before. It just feels like something we have heard before and hence I don’t find it special this time around. (6/10)

9. Butterfly Effect (나비효과) – We end with another amazing track, featuring great vocals and appealing harmonies that hook you onto the song within the first listen. The instrumental for Butterfly Effect places the song into pop territory and everything sounds so smooth in this track. I also quite like the melody and the beat it had. And given its position at the end of the track list, I put this down as a hidden gem. I feel like any other description I give will not give it justice, so I recommend you listen to this track. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

Obsession Teaser Image

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