After releasing the EP Skool Luv Affair earlier this year, the hardworking group BTS has come back with their first full album, Dark&Wild. They definitely weren’t kidding with the title. Gone is the sappy, innocent attitude. Now, we have an angsty and rather angry group of young men (and one boy) who are being unleashed.
Dark&Wild involves participation from the group on all songs, which is nice. We also see a better line distribution than with their previous releases. Jin and V are both rather good when it comes to their vocals, and it shows. Even Jimin is doing more than executing those crazy high notes. Their lyricism and talents have improved: the rapping is sharper and the vocals clearer.
“Intro: What Am I To You?”
The intro is probably familiar to people: it’s the teaser trailer. With Rap Monster tackling the track on his own, he lets out his feelings regarding a relationship. The music starts off melodic and sweet, depicting a rosy period in love. Rap Monster’s voice is also lighter. However, as the song progresses, the tone becomes darker, and Rap Monster gradually sounds angry. Clearly, the love has gone very, very bad. Rap Monster is wondering what the heck is up with the girl and her mess.
As described by Jin at BTS’ showcase, “Danger” is about finally convincing a girl to date you, but when you get together, you don’t know what you are to her. Therefore, the guys are letting you know that the relationship is in danger. Starting off with a beatbox, “Danger” is a mix of multiple sounds and style changes — from hip hop, to R&B and rock — that meld together for a wild ride. V and Jimin’s raspy vocals only add to the threatening tone. Throw in some “ain’t got time for your crap” lyrics and “BAM!” we’ve got an earworm intent on displaying some anger.
Musically, “Hormone War” features some interesting sounds. In the beginning we have scratching and the Mario-collecting-coins sound. If you listen closely, you can even hear a bit of yelling in the background. Like “Danger,” the song features a driving rhythmic electric guitar, which gives it a clear rock feel.
The lyrics for “Hormone War” are something else, to say the least. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what to say about them. People will take them as being incredibly objectifying or just the common thoughts of horny 20-year-old males. I do however like the allusion to “BTS Cypher Pt. 2: Triptych” with the “Because of who?” repetition in the bridge. Nice reminder of past songs.
Regardless of the lyrical content, the song is easy to rock out and bob along with.
This song is pretty self-explanatory: the guys are describing why they love hip hop and how they came into the game (the rappers in particular). Hip hop is basically a part of them and gives them a voice. They’ve received inspiration from other artists – both internationally and in Korea – and their intent is to immerse themselves in their music.
“Hip Hop Lover” layers a classic hip hop and R&B to create both a forceful and smooth effect. The best thing about this song is that they don’t leave the non-rappers out. They still get their parts. It sort of gives the impression that all seven members are united in their love of the hip hop genre.
“Let Me Know”
“Let Me Know” is the SUGA-produced, pre-released track from the album. SUGA did a good job. Largely electronic, the song is different from most on the album, which is why it’s made such a great pre-release. It’s a good diversion. SUGA’s ability to bring out the different sounds for the group is what stands out the most. While SUGA and J-Hope’s raps are exact, V’s mellow parts offers soothing feels. Then, the main chorus parts are even more exact and forceful. BTS sounds like they are pleading for the girl to let them know that the relationship is kaput.
Could the music for “Rain” be more suitable for such a title? The jazziness is on point, with the piano, flute, and light cymbal play. However, BTS doesn’t stop there. In order to keep it current, scratching and a hip-hop beat are thrown in. The effect of the old recording voice and additional airy vocals are also a nice addition. While not explicitly stated, it’s not farfetched to interpret this song as discussing the struggles of the group being artists. It’s a good track to listen to on a sad, rainy day, and to remind you, that like yourself, even idols can be miserable.
The cyphers that BTS’ Rap Monster, SUGA, and J-Hope have released have been a chance for them to vent all their frustrations regarding any sort of troubles or criticism they’ve faced. Not content on just letting loose like before, they enlisted the help of rapper and BigHit producer, Supreme Boi. With an instrumental that sounds like video game music (complete with gunfire), you feel like the guys are going to battle. As the title suggests, this track, with its slick lyrics and attitude, definitely kills.
Just because BTS has been releasing songs about relationships lately, it doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten their roots. “Can You Turn Off Your Phone” is a track with a message: get off your dang phones and reconnect on a personal level. This isn’t intended toward a girl, but to society as a whole. Coupled with a funky beat and funky guitar, the track is a good example of the throwback feel of the album. It almost makes you want to walk down the street, blasting the song from a boom box carried on your shoulder.
Continuing with the throwback feel is “Blanket Kick.” The track features muted guitars, brass, and an organ to create a 1970s tune.
Only you woo woo woo woo woo you
You woo woo woo woo woo you
Why did I do that, my head spins bing bing
I kick my blanket that didn’t do anything wrong kick kick
The song is about the ridiculous behavior of taking out your love-related frustrations on your poor sheets. How many times have we seen that in dramas? The singer realizes this behavior is stupid and childish, but can’t stop himself. He’s simply that much in love with this girl. The guy has it bad.
A love that makes every day a date day. That is the love being expressed in “24/7 = Heaven.” And it’s done rather cutely. It sounds like R&B/hip hop, but the song does have a bit of a pop feel to it. It’s lighthearted and bright. By managing to sound mature, the track does avoid the feeling of a song we’d think would go along with an aegyo-filled MV. With its syncopated guitar and snaps, “24/7 = Heaven” is a groovy song that will make you smile.
This is the third and last love song on the album – and the most poppy track on the album. “Look Here” has a sound that is becoming quite popular in music these days, thanks to the likes of Pharrell. It’s poppy with limited instrumentation, featuring just percussion and brass that isn’t loud or overpowering. The high pitch capabilities of the vocalists are shown off rather effectively. There is also the great harmonization between the lower (likely V) and higher (likely Jungkook) sections of the chorus. Although this style is different for BTS, they pull it off well.
As this is the last full track on the album, of course it would offer a roundup of their careers so far. “2nd Grade” breaks the love song cycle and is a bombastic exclamation of BTS making it to their second year in the industry. It also expresses their intent on continuously banging out songs. When the song starts, you know this is the going to be a banging track: it uses eclectic electronic music and effects. It even includes, what sounds like, an electronically altered pungi. The chorus almost a childish chant feel to it, so it’s not hard to imagine them in second grade. Also, if you like Taeyang‘s “Break Down,” you’ll definitely like this track.
As usual, BTS includes a track that features just the vocal line (Jin, Jimin, V, and Jungkook.” The outro accomplishes this with a sexy, R&B track. Just as they started, the boys end with questioning their relationship and pleading for an answer.
Overall, Dark&Wild has a sort of classic feel. This could be due to their time in the US, or just the general feel of throwing things back a little. There’s a certain roughness around the edges in a lot of the songs. Not the roughness of it being incomplete or lackluster, but rather a tougher instrumentation. There are of course outliers, such as “Rain” and “Let Me Know,” but you can’t ignore the classic elements associated with hip hop music.
With Dark&Wild, BTS has shown their growth in the transition from rebellious youth to mature artists.
Album Rating: 4/5
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