Next album I am picking to review is EXO’s latest release after a long while, Don’t Fight The Feeling. I am a bit unsure if the album is considered their 7th mini-album, or just a special mini-album. But basing off a few sources, I have decided to go with their 7th mini-album. Anyway, as mentioned, this is the group’s first release since their 2019 comeback, Obsession (title track and studio album) due to military enlistments of some members who have since returned (i.e. Xiumin and D.O). The comeback occurred after additional members enlisted (i.e. Baekhyun and Chanyeol) and hence it may be a while until we get another comeback from the group. In the meanwhile, we are treated to this mini-album and future solo promotions (D.O is confirmed for a solo comeback in the coming days!).
1. Don’t Fight The Feeling (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review for Don’t Fight The Feeling. (8/10)
2. Paradise (파라다이스) – Following the upbeat and fun sounding Don’t Fight The Feeling, Paradise slows the pace of the album with mid-tempo R&B track. While I don’t mind a slowed down song, I felt Paradise was a bit too slow and sluggish, relative to the first track. Now, this isn’t an issue if I were listening to the song by itself. But I found this to be an issue when I was listening to the album in order of the tracklist. Despite the slow profile, the chorus was still a strong one. I really like the melodies (they helped add some faster tempos to the song) and the warmth that the members gave the chorus via the vocals and melodies. I also found it lighthearted and ‘easy on the ears’. The rapping didn’t have that seem feel and was largely forgettable. Overall, a decent track. (7/10)
3. No Matter (훅!) – While No Matter is still in that ‘mid-tempo’’ territory like Paradise, I feel that No Matter has a bit more of a bit to it. Everything felt cohesive and had a place in this song. I liked the funky atmosphere that the instrumental gives the song. The vocals were quite strong and added that needed substance to the song. The falsetto-like ‘Oh Oh Oh’ hook was quite memorable. The rapping felt fitting and continued the momentum and energy from elsewhere in the song, which was great. No Matter is definitely one of my favourite side-tracks on the album. (9/10)
4. Runaway – While the other songs on the album thus far have been more on the brighter end of the spectrum, Runaway feels and sounds a lot darker and moodier. I really like this slow rock, guitar and piano fusion sound. I also know that Runaway is a lot slower than the previous songs, but I feel its placement on this album is justified and it works nicely to help build a captivating and alluring atmosphere. For the vocals, I liked how they sounded echo-y, which adds additional depth to the song. On top of that, the chanty style of the chorus was quite memorable. Personally, it is another favourite on this album and is the first song that really stood out to me when I listened to the album for the first time. (10/10)
5. Just As Usual (지켜줄게) – Just As Usual both ends and returns the album to its brighter sound. Just As Usual starts off as a soft R&B track, before the instrumental builds into a soft pop style instrumental (with the actual use of instruments, rather than synths to build the song’s backbone). I liked this buildup of energy and it puts forward EXO’s skillsets better than what a ‘straight’ coffeehouse track would have presented us with (which was a concern I had at the start of the song). Vocal and rapping-wise, I liked both elements in this song. Chanyeol was the standout member, with his husky vocals and cool rapping. Kai was the other member that stood out for me. The ad-libs from some of the other members were really good and the fade-out of the song was a good idea. (8.5/10)
Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10