[Album review] Where did EXO’s power go?

By Hong Dam-young
  • Published : Sept 7, 2017 - 15:58
  • Updated : Sept 7, 2017 - 15:58

“The War: The Power of Music”
Genie Music

Before anything else, there is one question that needs to be answered regarding “Power” from EXO’s extended re-release of July’s “The War”:  What’s up with the line “We got that power, power”?

The reigning K-pop act intended to show off its comical side in the music video, morphing into animated extraterrestrial characters wielding superpowers. But it is difficult to shake off the feeling the song sounds like a childish cartoon theme song.

Starting with an intro that recalls the sounds of a video arcade game, “Power” immediately brings listeners into the world of sci-fi with pounding electro-house beats and quirky sound. Despite the song’s dynamic shift between tones, danceable rhythms and melodies, “Power” emphasizes thematic plots and conceptual-driven marketing strategies at the expense of EXO’s musical power, which has been well demonstrated in hits such as “Growl,” “Diamond” and “Monster.”

EXO sings lines fitting to the superhero-inspired characters in the video: “Throw away your fear, we can do it, it’s okay” and “We got that power, power.” Except for the part where the band members raise their voices for “power” in the chorus, the song sounds flat with a simple resonating message of how music is a force that brings people together.

“Sweet Lies,” another new track in the repackaged album written by Chanyeol, is a bold new experiment that is rarely seen in EXO’s usual high-energy works. But the groovy and smooth R&B track, featuring a monotonous melody that runs atop a minimal beat, is bland enough that some listeners may doze off. After the dark tune of “Sweet Lies,” “Boomerang,” the last of the three new songs, is something of an earworm that might just make you bob your head to its funky beat. 

Considering the three new songs are from the extended rerelease of the original album, perhaps fans may be rewarded with better offerings in the group‘s upcoming original album.

By Hong Dam-young (lotus@heraldcorp.com)